Social welfare


Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 10/07/24


Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

Both refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are entitled to social benefits, in particular unemployment benefits, on the same level as German nationals. There have been substantial reforms of the legal framework governing social benefits in Germany through the so called ‘citizens benefits law’ (Bürgergeld Gesetz) which entered into force on 1 January 2023. They entail changes to social benefits which respectively apply for German nationals as well as for beneficiaries of international protection. By way of example, the amount of financial benefits has been lifted from € 449 to € 502 for single adults, € 451 for spouses, children between 14 and 17 years € 420 and children between six and thirteen € 348 and children under six years € 318. Additionally, grounds for penalties upon non-compliance with obligations to cooperate have been reduced and the amount of financial reserves and extra income next to the unemployment benefits has been raised.[1]

In order to meet the late effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and inflation the Federal government further introduced several ad hoc measures. Children receive a monthly support of € 20 to facilitate social and financial participation, adults who received unemployment benefits in June 2022 received an additional sum of € 200 for July 2022.[2]

Beneficiaries of international protection are entitled to benefits, starting from the first day of the month after the recognition of their status has become legally valid i.e. usually with the arrival of the decision by the BAMF. Problems with access to social benefits may occur during the period when persons have already been granted protection status but still only have the asylum seeker’s permission to stay (Aufenthaltsgestattung) because they have not yet received the residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) which officially confirms that they have protection status. This may lead responsible authorities to deny social services for the first couple of weeks following the recognition of the status. However, persons concerned would in any case be entitled to the (lower) asylum seekers’ benefits during this period and they can claim payments to which they would have been entitled at a later date.[3]

For persons who are registered as unemployed, the responsible authority is the job centre or Employment Agency. This institution is responsible for the disbursement of unemployment benefits as well as for the provision of other benefits and measures for integration into the labour market; job training measures, support with job applications, specific language courses etc. For persons who are not registered as unemployed (e.g., because they have reached the age of retirement or are unable to work on health grounds), the responsible authority is the Social Welfare Office.

Since August 2016, beneficiaries of protection are generally obliged to take up their place of residence within the Federal State in which their asylum procedures have been conducted for a maximum period of three years (see Freedom of movement). In these cases, social benefits are only provided in the respective municipality.




[1] NDR, Bürgergeld statt Hartz IV: Was ändert sich und was bleibt?, last amended 2 January 2023, available in German at:

[2] Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, Sofortzuschlags- und Einmalzahlungsgesetz, available in German at:

[3] Georg Classen, Ratgeber für Geflüchtete in Berlin, 2nd ed., November 2017, available in German at:, 156-157.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation