Lioba from Red Tape Translation is a freelance actor when she’s not working for us, and she has spent the day trying to make sense of the state aid available for self-employed people during the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke with a case worker at a Job Center in depth this morning. We give her our warmest thanks for taking the time to share her knowledge.
Financial Aid for Freelancers in Germany
Edited 26.03.2020 with important information for people with residence permits – see below.
Freelancers, you are very likely eligible for “Arbeitslosengeld II” (unemployment money II) as “Grundsicherung für Selbstständige” (basic security benefits for freelancers) from the Jobcenter. This is financial aid from the unemployment center to cover your most important needs. They cover health insurance, rent, and give you allowances for other expenses. Due to the lockdown in Berlin, they have now simplified the application process. You can still go in-person – this is seen as an emergency – and you will be handed the forms right away. You then fill them out, attach all sorts of evidence of your expenses, and drop them in the letterbox at the front of the building.
Please note that this is WELFARE. This is not related to the immediate one-off grant that will be available for self-employed and freelance people in Bavaria and not officially released yet in Berlin. You can find those details here.
Bureaucracy in the Time of Corona (also known as #staythefuckhome)
Since some people don’t want to/can’t leave the house anymore, you can also get the forms by post. To get the right forms posted to you, write a simple letter stating that you are a freelancer who is out of income due to the virus and you wish to apply for aid. In this letter, make sure you include:
– Your date of birth
– Your marital status
– Your living situation: are you the main tenant (‘Hauptmieter*in’), a sub-lessee (’Untermieter*in’), living in a flat share (WG) or do you own your property, do you live alone?
– How you earn money – are you a freelancer/self-employed/employed?
– A copy of your ID or, for non EU-citizens, your passport and residence permit (‘Aufenthaltstitel’)
EDIT 18.03.2020: Here is a template in German to send to your local Jobcenter
If you are some sort of bureaucracy ninja and you already know what forms you need, you can also download them at www.jobcenter.digital and send them in right away. We would also be happy to help you figure out which forms are relevant.
I’m a non-EU citizen, am I even eligible for Job Center benefits?
Here’s an excerpt from a PDF published/updated by the Agentur für Arbeit in January 2020. Have a look at the last 6 pages, 84-89. It outlines the different types of work permits and whether they are eligible for social benefits under SGB II (ALG II falls under this classification). See below for a summary in English of common permit types.
Here’s a summary of the permits held by self-employed people that we see most often at Red Tape Translation.
- Self-employed entrepreneur (§21 No. 1): You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II but it might impact your right of residence
- Freelancer (§21 No. 5): You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II but it might impact your right of residence
- Permanent residence permit or Daueraufenthalt-EU (§9, 9a, 18b, §19, §21.4, §26.3, §26.4, §38.1.1): You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II once you’ve held this permit for more than three months
- Residence permit as the spouse of a German citizen: You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II but it might impact your right of residence
- Residence permit as a parent of a German child: You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II and this has no impact on your right of residence
- Permanent residence as the family member of a German citizen (spouse or parent): You are eligible to receive benefits under SGB II and this has no impact on your right of residence
Getting these benefits might impact my right of residence?
27.03.2020: The foreigner’s office in Berlin has just released a statement with some changes to Residence Act in light of Corona. If you draw ALGII between 18.03.2020 and 17.06.2020,your permit will NOT lapse, even if there is a statement on your permit that says it will.
Residence permits sometimes have caveats on them like “Erlischt mit Bezug von Leistungen nach dem SGB II oder SGB XII bzw. AsylLG” (permit lapses if permit holder receives benefits classified under the German Social Code Book II, XII or Asylum Applicants Benefits Act). If your permit says that, you can ignore this caveat and apply for ALGII if you need to.
Other tips and tricks for completing your application
- I completed this process. I needed the following forms (downloadable at jobcenter.digital):
– HA (the main application form)
– EKS (income I earn as a freelancer)
– EK (general income declaration)
– VM (my capital, my financial situation)
– KDU (costs for accommodation and heating)
– VE (my living situation in a flatshare)
- EU citizens need to hand in their invoices from the past six months, as they’re only eligible if they can prove that they have been a freelancer for at least half a year. A way for non-EU citizens to prove they’ve been a freelancer for at least 6 months is by presenting their Aufenthaltstitel.
- If you want to receive money for the month of March, make sure you send the forms in (or drop them directly in the postbox at the entrance of the Jobcenter of the district you’re registered in) by the end of March.
- They will still need other documents that prove your expenses! (like rental contract, paystubs, bank statements, etc.)Please also note, that if you happen to earn money in the upcoming months while you still receive payments from the Jobcenter, they might ask you to pay some money back. It works like unemployment payments. So once you. start earning money again, make sure to tell them that you’ll longer need their support.
- You will be eligible for their support for the next 6 months at least.
- Please note that the above is only for people who haven’t been employed for 12 consecutive months!! If you’ve been employed, you will have to turn to the Agentur für Arbeit to ask for ALGI before you can be considered for ALGII.
Get help with your application
If you want help filling out these forms from someone who is currently going through the process herself and is a (self-proclaimed!) ALGII pro, I’d be happy to help. Red Tape Translation has reduced the price of Life Admin from 49 EUR per hour to 35 EUR per hour for this very purpose.
- this post is based on me interviewing a job center representative this morning. She probably only got briefed mere hours before I talked to her. Things can change at the speed of light. The best thing you can do is just apply ASAP so that your application is processed quickly (as quickly as possible, anyway) and ride the waves that follow.
- (edited 17.3.2020): As with any welfare program, ALGII is designed for people living hand to mouth and who are threatened with not being able to cover their basic living expenses. You have to prove that you have firstly exhausted all your assets and savings before you can receive it. This means disclosing your bank account, paypal balances, properties, etc.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane, wash your hands and dream of summer.