Unemployment benefits – entitlement, duration and amount

Entitlement to unemployment benefit What is the amount, duration and requirements?

The company reduces jobs or for private reasons a move is pending Unemployment and the need to apply for unemployment benefits can affect anyone. This is intended to ensure social security for the period of unemployment by paying part of your previous salary. The entitlements and benefits for unemployment benefits are defined in the Third Book of the Social Code (SGB III)§§ 136 to 164. The Federal Employment Agency and the local employment agencies are responsible for approving and paying this benefit.

Entitlement to unemployment benefits

Insurance benefit

Every worker who is subject to social security contributions pays monthly social security contributions. This includes pension, nursing care and health insurance. In addition, employees pay into the unemployment insurance fund, which ensures their right to financial support in the event of unemployment. For the year 2020, the contribution rate for unemployment insurance according to§ 341 SGB III 2.4 percent. The corresponding contribution assessment limits of this insurance benefit are 6900.00 euros in the west of Germany and 6450.00 euros in the east.

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Who is entitled to unemployment benefits?

Qualifying period (SGB III§ 142 Article 1)

In order to receive unemployment benefits, you must first fulfill a basic condition, the so-called entitlement to benefits. This means that you must have been employed for at least twelve months during the two-year period before becoming unemployed and subject to social insurance contributions in order to be able to apply for unemployment benefits.

If you have had several short-term employment relationships within this period, the period of employment completed by the 31st day of unemployment will be taken into account.12.2022 temporary special rule applied. This states that you will have easier access to unemployment benefits in that your qualifying period only has to be six months instead of twelve months. If you meet this condition, you are legally entitled to unemployment benefits.

The fulfillment of the qualifying period for unemployment benefit 1 may also be given by special cases:

  • If you are self-employed and have paid into the unemployment insurance scheme voluntarily
  • Due to the receipt of sick pay.
  • By doing voluntary military service or federal voluntary service or youth voluntary service.
  • By raising children up to the age of three.

In each of these cases, you must work within 30 months for at least 12 months Have lived one of the above situations to fulfill the qualifying period.

Requirements for the receipt of unemployment benefits

  • Unemployment must be present- work less than 15 hours per week
  • the 65. age has not yet been reached
  • the registration concerning unemployment must be available at the Federal Employment Agency
  • Readiness for job placement by the Federal Employment Agency
  • independent efforts to find a new job (SGB III§ 138 )

When must the application for unemployment benefits be made?

Long-term dismissal

If a termination is expected in the foreseeable future because the employment contract is limited in time or the termination is preceded by a long-term notice due to restructuring, there is an obligation to report unemployment as part of early job search. In this case, you must present yourself in person as a jobseeker to the relevant employment agency no later than three months before the termination date (SGB III§ 38 paragraph 1)

Termination at short notice

If the termination is short-term and unexpected and your employment ends in less than three months, the employment office must be informed within three days of becoming aware of the termination date.

How long unemployment benefits are paid?

Age and length of employment

The age and duration of your employment subject to compulsory insurance are decisive when it comes to the duration of benefit receipt. For all persons who register as unemployed, they must prove periods of employment subject to compulsory insurance within the last 5 years, which can also be the result of several temporary employment relationships.

Age-dependent unemployment benefit (SGB III§ 147 Article 1(2))

Up to the age of 50. Unemployment benefits shall be granted only if the person has completed the qualifying period before the age of 55 and has been subject to compulsory insurance for the last 5 years:

  • 12 months of compulsory insurance = 6 months of benefit entitlement
  • 16 months of compulsory insurance = 8 months of benefit entitlement
  • 20 months of compulsory insurance = 10 months of benefit entitlement
  • 24 months of compulsory insurance = 12 months of benefit entitlement

From the age of 50. You must be at least 55 years old. the age of 58 applies:

  • 30 months of compulsory insurance = 15 months of benefit entitlement

From the age of 55. From the age of 58 until the age of 58. The following applies from the age of 55:

  • 36 months of compulsory insurance = 18 months of benefit entitlement

From the completed 58 years of age applies:

  • 48 months of compulsory insurance = 24 months of benefit entitlement

This means that you are entitled to unemployment benefits for a maximum of 12 months if you are younger than 50 years of age. This maximum can only be exhausted if you have been in an activity subject to compulsory insurance for at least 24 months in the 5 years prior to registering as unemployed.

Age-independent entitlement to unemployment benefit in the case of temporary employment

If you have worked for less than 12 months in the 30 months before you became unemployed, you can still qualify for insurance. For this purpose, the employment subject to compulsory insurance may only have a duration of a maximum of 10 weeks and the remuneration of the last 12 months may not exceed the relevant reference value of annual 37.380 euros (§ 18 Abs.1 SGB IV) do not exceed. If these requirements are met, the Employment Agency will pay unemployment benefits regardless of your age:

  • 6 months subject to compulsory insurance for 3 months
  • 8 insurable months for 4 months
  • 10 insurable months for 5 months

Amount of unemployment benefit

Assessment remuneration

The amount of unemployment benefit is currently limited for unemployed persons with a child (within the meaning of§ 32 Para. 1, 3 to 5 Income Tax Act (EStG)) is set at 67 percent and for all other unemployed persons at 60 percent of the previous gross pay. In addition, there are lump-sum deductions (SGB III§ 149 Article 1).

To determine this amount, the average daily wage is calculated from an assessment period of 150 days (SGB III§ 150 (1). If you cannot provide evidence of employment subject to compulsory insurance covering a period of 150 days or more (fixed-term employment), the assessment period is reduced to 90 days. To determine the daily wage, the total wage in the assessment period is divided by the number of days in the assessment period (SGB III§ 150 (3) .

One assessment period comprises 200 days. Within this period, the person concerned earned a salary subject to unemployment insurance of 10000 euros. The daily assessment pay is calculated from the equation 10000 Euro : 200 days = 50 Euro (SGB III§ 151 Paragraph 1).

Compensation for disadvantages in the calculation of the assessment salary

Your weekly working hours and the resulting wage may be reduced by various criteria over a certain period of time. This is the case, for example, if you have been caring for a child at home and have received parental or child-raising benefits. The care of a relative also reduces the working time by claiming care leave (Sec 3 para. 1 S. 1 Nursing Time Act) and the remuneration for work. Based on these values, the daily assessment remuneration and thus the approved unemployment benefit amount would be lower. Therefore, these assessment periods are not used in the calculation.

Periods of voluntary social or ecological year as well as voluntary military service are also not taken into account with their financial income for the assessment period.

If your income in the last two years was lower by approx. 10 percent higher than in the period directly preceding the reported unemployment, the higher income must also be taken into account for the calculation of the assessment remuneration. At this point, you must independently inform the Employment Agency of this fact and request that the assessment period be extended to 2 years, since otherwise it will only include the period directly before the application was filed.

Working abroad and unemployment benefit entitlement

If you have worked abroad, lose your job and apply for unemployment benefit in Germany, it will be granted if you have been employed in Germany for a certain period of time and are subject to social insurance contributions. There is a restriction regarding the countries in which you may work before submitting your application. This includes:

  • EU
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Iceland

In order to receive unemployment benefit 1 in Germany, two conditions must be met:
1. You must be employable within Germany
2. You have worked in Germany subject to compulsory insurance (the duration of the employment does not matter)

That is:
For example, you have worked abroad for 3 years, then returned to Germany and worked for 4 months in a temporary job subject to social security contributions. After these 4 months, you register as unemployed and are now entitled to German unemployment benefits, since the 3 years of your work abroad are counted as waiting time.

Unemployment benefit amount and tax class

The calculated assessment pay is reduced by several factors to determine the actual daily benefit rate. This includes (SGB III§ 153):

  • the social security lump sum in the amount of 20 percent of the assessment pay
  • the solidarity surcharge
  • income tax

Therefore, changes in the wage tax class (marriage or birth of a child) must be reported to the Employment Agency immediately, as this can change the tax class with the result of a lower wage tax deduction.
After deducting these payments, the lump-sum net income is created, of which unemployed persons with children receive 67 percent and unemployed persons without children receive 60 percent as unemployment benefits.

What comes to your account?

In summary, the employment agency calculates the unemployment benefit amount in the following steps.

Calculate daily benefit rate

(Gross income of the last 12 months divided by 365 days)
(SGB III§ 151 Abs.1 sentence 1)

Calculate daily benefit rate

(Assessment remuneration minus social security lump sum minus wage tax and solidarity surcharge)
(SGB III§ 153 para. 1 sentence 1)

Calculate daily benefit rate

(Daily benefit rate multiplied by a factor of 60 percent for unemployed persons without children and by a factor of 67 percent for unemployed persons with at least one child)
(SGB III§ 154 sentence 2)

Monthly payment amount

(Daily benefit rate extrapolated to the days of the respective month)

Unemployment benefit calculation example
Single man with a gross monthly salary of 3000 euros, income tax class 1and living in the state of Brandenburg. His monthly unemployment benefit would be 1148, 34 euros.

If the same data are used for a single mother with wage tax class 2, the unemployment benefit amount is 1315.31 euros.

Based on these values, you can see how the tax class affects the amount of unemployment benefits to be expected.

On the Internet, you can find calculators for a rough estimate of the unemployment benefit amount, which will help you to find out in advance what the amount of the unemployment benefit notice will be. To do this, enter the monthly gross income of the last 12 months, the calendar year, the state of your residence, the tax class and the number of children.

Difference between ALG1 and ALG2

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefit 1 or if the monthly benefit payment does not cover the cost of living, unemployment benefit 2, also known as Hartz IV, takes effect. The difference between the two benefits is the source of the funds.

Unemployment benefit 1 is paid from the unemployment insurance fund, into which every employee subject to social insurance contributions pays monthly. Unemployment benefit 2 is not paid as an insurance benefit. The money for this support is raised from state funds and is regulated in the Second Book of the Social Code (SGB II). The employment agency or the job center is responsible for ALG 2.

However, unemployment benefit 2 is not only paid if unemployment benefit 1 is too low. In the meantime, it is assumed that approx. 44 percent of employees whose monthly income is insufficient to cover their current expenses. Most of those in gainful employment have a mini-job, while a quarter of the "Aufstocker" (top-up recipients) have a mini-job Lives from self-employed work.

Inform the employment agency of any change

ÄIf something changes in your life, you must inform the Employment Agency immediately. To do this, you can visit in person or provide the information online. If you do not comply with your obligation to notify the change (in time), you may be subject to a blocking period for unemployment benefits.
What changes you must report?

  • new bank account
  • Taking up a new employment relationship
  • Moving
  • Change in family situation
  • Start of studies
  • Start of training
  • Change of income
  • Inability to work
  • Vacation
  • Marriage

(SGB I§§ 60 to 67- cooperation of the person entitled to benefits)
(SGB II§§ 56 to 62- Obligation to cooperate)
(SGB III§§ 309 to 319- duties to register, duties to notify, duties to certify, duties to provide information)

Bank account

If you open a new account, you must notify this change immediately, so that the next payment ends up in the correct account.

New job

If you take up a new employment relationship, your entitlement to unemployment benefits must be checked. If you work in a part-time job with less than 15 hours per week, this has no influence on the payment of your unemployment benefits. Nevertheless, you have to report your entry into gainful employment, as the stipulations in your integration contract will change (you will then no longer be fully available to the labor market).


If you leave your previous place of residence, this must be reported to the Employment Agency. This transfers your data to the new area of responsibility.

ÄChange in living situation

As soon as your family becomes smaller or larger, this change must be reported to the Employment Agency.

Beginning a course of study

If you take up a course of study, you will no longer be available to the labor market and must inform them of this fact.

Start of training

If you decide to start a new education, there are also changes in the receipt of unemployment benefits.

Change in income

As soon as your part-time job exceeds 15 hours per week, you are no longer entitled to unemployment benefits. In this case, you must check whether you are entitled to a top-up from unemployment benefit 2.

Inability to work

If your doctor certifies that you are unable to work while you are receiving benefits, this information must be forwarded immediately, as the Employment Agency will only pay for six weeks after the start of the sick leave. If you are sick for a longer period of time and have statutory health insurance, the health insurance company will pay for the days off. At the same time you are no longer registered as unemployed.

Leave with unemployment benefit

If you are going to be absent from your place of residence for several days, you must notify the Agency in advance, as the Agency for Employment only pays for a certain period of time.

Marriage and ALG1

As soon as your marital status changes, the marriage certificate must be submitted.

Is there leave during the receipt of unemployment benefit 1?

In the unemployment insurance there is the term "leave" not. you are not in an employment relationship in which you are entitled to paid days off. Nevertheless, you have the possibility to leave your place of residence for a vacation trip, if this has been approved by the employment agency.

For recipients of unemployment benefits, the availability order (EAO) applies, which states that you must be reachable (in writing) every day in order to respond to an invitation for the next day.
You may leave your residence for a maximum of three weeks in a calendar year to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Your absence from the place of work must be applied for at short notice, within one week prior to the trip. The employment agency then evaluates whether there are important job interviews in the period applied for and informs you whether your application has been accepted or rejected.

What happens if you want to be absent for more than three weeks?
The employment agency approves a maximum of six consecutive weeks of vacation within a calendar year. However, the approved unemployment benefit will be paid to you only until the end of the third week; you will not receive any benefit for the remaining three weeks.

If you are away from your place of residence for more than six weeks, your entitlement to unemployment benefits will be suspended for the duration of the trip and you will have to reapply for unemployment benefit 1 after your return

What I can earn on top of unemployment benefit

If you work less than 15 hours per week, you will still be entitled to unemployment benefits. ÜIf you exceed this number of hours, you no longer count as unemployed and must deregister from the benefit system.

Your additional income is only counted towards the amount of unemployment benefit if it exceeds 165 euros per month (SGB III§ 155 (1). This allowance of 165 euros can be legally increased by claiming income-related expenses that you incur as a result of your part-time job. This includes, for example, travel expenses to work, costs for work materials and cleaning costs for work clothes. In practice, this looks like this:

You have a part-time job and receive 400 euros per month. Your travel expenses amount to 30 euros per month. In this case, your tax-free allowance increases from 165 euros to 195 euros. The difference between the tax-free amount (195 euros) and your additional earnings (400 euros) is 205 euros and will be deducted from your unemployment benefit.

Sick leave and unemployment benefit

As long as you are sick, you are not available to the labor market and must inform the employment agency and present the sick note from a doctor. During an illness, the employment agency pays the approved unemployment benefits for a maximum of six weeks. If the sick leave extends beyond the period of six weeks, your entitlement to unemployment benefits will lapse.

Inform the employment agency about your continued sick leave and register with your health insurance company. You will then receive sick pay from your health insurance fund, provided you are covered by statutory health insurance. the amount of sickness benefit to which you are entitled is calculated by the health insurance fund.

When payment of sickness benefits begins (from the seventh week of sick leave), you are no longer registered as unemployed and no longer receive payments from the Employment Agency. Once you have been taken off sick, you must register again with the employment agency and reapply for benefits.

Special features:
Unemployment benefit is paid in the event of sickness only if

  • the application for unemployment benefits was submitted and approved at the time of the sick leave
  • you were currently receiving benefits and no lockout period was imposed

Unemployment benefit: If the child is ill (SGB III§ 146(2))

If you are caring for a sick child, please have the doctor confirm this in writing and forward the medical certificate to the Employment Agency. In this case, unemployment benefits continue to be paid in most cases. In this case, it will be examined on a case-by-case basis how long the payment can be made, provided that it is a case of long-term illness of the child.

Blocking periods for unemployment benefit 1 (SGB III§ 159)

9.1. What leads to a blocking period?
If the employee acts in an uninsurable manner without good reason, a blocking period can be imposed. This includes:

  • signing a termination agreement and receiving severance pay
  • quitting your job on your own
  • Failure to comply with the deadlines for reporting unemployment
  • unwillingness to look for a new job
  • Disregard of instructions by the employment agency
  • refusal or discontinuation of vocational integration measures prescribed by the Employment Agency

Blocking period for unemployment benefit 1

During a blocking period, you do not receive unemployment benefits and the duration of the claim is reduced by the period of the blocking period. The payment of contributions to the social security system is also suspended during the blocking period. This blocking period is fixed in the German social law and is imposed with so-called insurancerelated behavior.

What time frame do blocking periods have?

Blocks can be imposed for a period of 1 to 12 weeks. If a blocking period is imposed, there is no entitlement to health insurance during this time. This means that you must pay the contributions for private or voluntary insurance yourself. Since no unemployment benefit is paid during this period, there is also no pension insurance obligation.

If recipients of unemployment benefits do not accept or break off a reasonable job or integration measure offered by the employment agency, the following blocking periods are imposed (SGB III§ 159(4):

1. Offense: It follows a three-week barrier of the unemployment pay 1.
2. and 3. Violation: another 6 or 12 weeks of blocking will be imposed.

File an appeal

They can contradict a blocking period. You have one month after receiving the decision to do this. You can formulate the objection yourself or have it written down by an employee of the Employment Agency.

Rest period when receiving ALG 1 (SGB III§) 158)

In addition to a blocking period, there is a rest period in the payment of unemployment benefits. In contrast to the blocking period, this does not cause a reduction in the period of entitlement when receiving unemployment benefits. Rest periods occur if the employee receives other social benefits. This includes:

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