Advice on claiming sozialhilfe and/or wohngeld

58 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi

Was wandering if anyone as any first hand experience of claiming either sozialhilfe and wohngeld. I been here about a year and was working for myself freelance which was going fine until say xmas when everything as gone to shit (global problems etc). I'm now finding myslef in a quite desperate situation where I currently have no income at all and no savings either. I can't claim the proper unemployment benefit as I have not worked or payed tax here in Germany. So I'm hoping I can get some kind of assistance as an EU citizen and have been told I can claim the benefits mentioned. The trouble is tho my German is not good and I failed miserably to try and decipher the online information in Deutsch.

I'd much appreciate it if anyone could give me any kind of advice about how to go about making these claims and what kind of documentation I need to take along etc. Especially would like to hear from anyone who as actually made these claims whether successfully or not.

Jake

P.s If you don't want to post your experiences on here then a private message would be appreciated.

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Posted

I would recommend making a german friend, and asking them to sit with you in front of said webpages, and have them translate what you need to do. Then you can ask questions right there on the spot.

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Posted

You can go to Arbeitsamt and register yourself as looking for a job. They will enter you into the database in case somebody might want to hire you. When I went, they gave me a bunch of forms to fill out and to come back the next day and then gave me an appointment with a councellor about a month later. She offered me some unemployment money and when I said I never worked here, she said I could get Arbeitslosengeld II or Hartz IV so I suppose that's what you should be asking for. If you can take a German (speaking) friend with you, it would be better but if you can't, you can chance it that they speak English. Once you take their money they may send you for a German course or have you do a 1€ job but you get a little more money that way.

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Posted

Sozialhilfe/Sozialgeld are benefits for people who aren't able to work (due to illness, pension age etc.) or cannot apply for Arbeitslosengeld II.

As LeonG explained, you would have to apply for Arbeitslosengeld II/ (inofficially also called Hartz IV). It consists of basic subsidies (Grundsicherung) of 351 € plus subsidies for apartment rent + heating (within certain limits, I think for one person it is a 45 squaremeter apt.). It is also possible to receive "aufstockendes Arbeitslosengeld II" (benefits to top up low income).

AFAIK, Wohngeld and Arbeitslosengeld II cannot be received at the same time. Eligibility for Wohngeld in Berlin can be checked here (questionnaire via "Wohngeld Abfrage"), applications can be made at the Wohnungsamt of your Bezirk. It would probably be much less than Arbeitslosengeld II.

More info about Arbeitslosengeld II on the Arbeitsagentur homepage. Click on "Antrag" to find downloadable application form on the right side – it's quite a lot of paperwork. Click on "Partner vor Ort" on top of page to find your local office (ARGE or JobCenter).

Another thing to check: Did you pay into social security in your home country before coming to Berlin? You might be able to claim Arbeitslosengeld I by documenting this through the E301 form (sorry, I don't know details about this).

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Posted

Thanks very much for the advice, it makes things much clearer, at least what I need to do initially.

I'm pretty sure I won't be able to claim Arbeitslosengeld I as my tax situation is complicated due to the nature of my previous work (I was paying tax in both the US and UK) and would be a nightmare to try and document.

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Posted

If you are a freelancer and can convince your case worker of that (i.e. show him some of the work you have done, etc.), you can get Hartz IV/Arbeitslosengeld II as supplemental income. It's a bit of a complicated process, but essentially you fill out some forms "predicting" your income for the next six month (piece of advice: aim low) and based on that they will give you money each month. After six months they will look at your actual income and based on that and your predictions earlier that indicated your assumed income you will either receive extra money or they will ask for some back. It's important to keep track of your income during those six months, so you don't spend all the government money if you earn too much and have to give some back. They also pay your health insurance.

If you go this route you get a chance to continue your freelance business and don't have to go for the jobs they find for you.

Good luck.

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Posted

P.S. If you haven't officially worked in Germany you do not qualify for Arbeitslosengeld I. That is how we found out about the above mentioned. My husband worked full-time in the US and only qualified for Hartz IV when we moved here, but it really isn't so bad. After six months his freelance work is picking up and he won't need it much longer.

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Posted

they made me wait 6 months before telling me i wasnt eligible for hartz IV. I ma now living in berlin as a bum, with no insurance. my friends patience is running out, and I will be on the streets in a few days. there is no work for someone with a humastics degree like me, and i cant go back home for fear of being castrated. Its the summer, so i aint that worried now, just abput food i guess, but in 6 months i will be freezing my ass off. Is this right? Any german would get support in engand wouldnt they? surely it sghould be the same "umgekehrt"

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Posted

The finer details of bureaucracy I guess :( Can you try to appeal it or talk to somebody else? Doesn't seem right to me.

Have you tried some zeit-arbeit agencies? Here in small town, there is zeit arbeit. Some people refer to it as slavery but I have decided to try one out for my first job here. It might be fun, who knows. Sounds to me like no responsibilities, just go where they tell you, do mindless work, get paid.

Why is it that you fear being castrated may I ask?

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Posted

hmm maybe. i have phoned up various agencies, but they dont seem to be doing thst sort of thing. I would consider anything, outside of meat factory

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Posted

When I went to Arbeitsamt, they gave me a list of zeit-arbeit agencies in my area. I went to 4 out of 5 that are in my little town, couldn't find the 5th. Two of them, I talked to the ppl right away and they said they would look for something for me. They haven't called back. The other two just took my paperwork and one of those called back for an interview. I went there yesterday and they immediately said that they would do a contract and would have me placed somewhere within a couple of weeks. They just want to see my passport and aufenthaltskarte so I am going there tomorrow for that.

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Posted

If you are a freelancer and can convince your case worker of that (i.e. show him some of the work you have done, etc.), you can get Hartz IV/Arbeitslosengeld II as supplemental income. It's a bit of a complicated process, but essentially you fill out some forms "predicting" your income for the next six month (piece of advice: aim low) and based on that they will give you money each month. After six months they will look at your actual income and based on that and your predictions earlier that indicated your assumed income you will either receive extra money or they will ask for some back. It's important to keep track of your income during those six months, so you don't spend all the government money if you earn too much and have to give some back. They also pay your health insurance.

If you go this route you get a chance to continue your freelance business and don't have to go for the jobs they find for you.

Good luck.

Cheers for this, as this is pretty much my situation, I'm freelancing, just at the moment I'm not sure what in. Will take a look at this though as it sounds like it could be what I'm looking for. How long did the process take from first contact to actually receiving anything?

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Posted

good luck with that mr leonG

i posted to see if there were any tips, and people here were pretty forthcoming with well wishes and tips.

keep us posted leon

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Posted

How long did the process take from first contact to actually receiving anything?

Not sure if I remember right, maybe about six weeks or so? There were some complications, because my husband had never lived in Germany before, so we had to set up a Steuernummer, etc. which took a few weeks. But the good news is they backpay through the date that you turned in your application.

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Posted

Your case might be different from others Meikeerik, as (I believe) your husband was married to a German citzen and resident, which might have helped him qualify for Hartz IV. I think the normal attitude is that people who aren't permanent residents, who have no money and don't qualify for ALG1, are expected to go back to their home country for social security payments. There's an exception that, if you're receving social security in an EU country like the UK, you can come here to look for work and receive payment, but after three months you must go back.

I am of course speaking off the top of my head here and could be quite wrong.

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Posted

Back in Iceland, the way they interpret the EEA/EU agreement for freedom of movement, if you are EU, you can come and look for work for up to 6 months. As soon as you get a job, apply for residence permit which will be issued for 5 years. After 5 years when it's time to renew it, if you are at that point unemployed and receiving social assistance, they can refuse to renew it and send you home. Before the 5 years, I don't think they can send you home because your permit is still valid. I am not sure how that works in Germany but I do know that I have a permit to stay here for the next 5 years but whether that entitles me to any social benefits is of course another question. The EU agreement may be stronger than the EEA/EU agreement but as far as I know, there seems to be a lack of clear policy on a lot of things here.

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Posted

If one can prove one has been registered in Germany for at least five years ie. Bescheinung from 2004 it is then assumed that Germany is your home. There is a paragraph in the gesetz that backs this up. You need to go to a, 'Burgerhilfe' Ev. or the likes to get a copy and harass the Job Centre. There is always the chance of getting work for a day and you should ask the job centre about this. If you waited for six months for a reply then it sort of appears to them you are not a needy case after all. Apart from that go begging it can be fun and you meet interesting people, it got me through when I was in your situation. I was smoking grass and feeling sorry for myself before landing on the street. Quit that then felt my survival instinct kick in. Best of luck.

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Posted

An update on my zeit arbeit job, I went there today, signed the paperwork and was issued a whole bunch of crap including safety shoes and safety glasses as well as ID and an electronic key for the factory they are most likely sending me to. I start work on the 25th. They guarantee 35 hours a week, overtime 20% extra aside from the overtime bank where they even up if you missed some hours that week. Sundays 50% extra, nightshift 20% extra etc. Something like that. I have 10 vacation days in the first 6 months and after that I have 24 a year or something.

If you are interested in checking it out, the place is called ZAG, www.zag.de and they have offices in Berlin, I saw it on their map.

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Posted

Posts #15 by RainKing and #8 by Etheldread made me research a little about the reasons for being denied Arbeitslosengeld II as an EU citizen, and it seems that the ARGE doesn't always follow EU legislation about freedom of movement and equality on the labour market which also affects the Arbeitslosengeld II question.

The relevant Sozialgesetzbuch II (SGB II) extract decrees among other things that foreign citizens who stay in Germany for the sole purpose of searching for work can be denied benefits, SGB II, Einzelnorm:

§ 7 Berechtigte

(1) Leistungen nach diesem Buch erhalten Personen, die

1.

das 15. Lebensjahr vollendet und die Altersgrenze nach § 7a noch nicht erreicht haben,

2.

erwerbsfähig sind,

3.

hilfebedürftig sind und

4.

ihren gewöhnlichen Aufenthalt in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland haben

(erwerbsfähige Hilfebedürftige). Ausgenommen sind

1.

Ausländer, die weder in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Arbeitnehmer oder Selbständige noch auf Grund des § 2 Abs. 3 des Freizügigkeitsgesetzes/EU freizügigkeitsberechtigt sind, und ihre Familienangehörigen für die ersten drei Monate ihres Aufenthalts,

2.

Ausländer, deren Aufenthaltsrecht sich allein aus dem Zweck der Arbeitsuche ergibt, und ihre Familienangehörigen,

...

This law however needs to comply with EU laws about freedom of movement.

There have been a number of court decisions which support this, see Gerichtsentscheidungen Berlin-Brandenburg.

Amongst others, a decision by Sozialgericht Berlin, 29 Feb. 2008 backs the rights of citizens of 'old' EU countries, i.e. with unrestricted access to the German labour market, even if they come to Germany for the purpose of job search:

Grundsicherung für Arbeitsuchende - kein Leistungsausschluss für erwerbsfähige Alt-Unionsbürger - europarechtskonforme Auslegung

Orientierungssatz

1. Die Regelung des § 7 Abs 1 S 2 SGB 2 ist gemeinschaftsrechtlich auszulegen: Danach verstößt der Leistungsausschluss für Arbeitsuchende mit unbeschränktem Arbeitsmarktzugang (so genannte Alt-EU-Bürger) gegen das Gleichbehandlungsgebot des Art 24 Abs 1 EGRL 38/2004. (Rn.20)

2. Sofern der Gesetzgeber den Leistungsausschluss nach § 7 Abs 1 S 2 SGB 2 auf Art 24 Abs 2 EGRL 38/2004 stützt, verkennt er, dass dort nur von einem Anspruch auf "Sozialhilfe" die Rede ist. Das EU-Recht unterscheidet aber zwischen "Sozialhilfe" und "beitragsunabhängigen Leistungen", und durch die Aufnahme im Anh IIa EWGV 1408/71 zu Art 4 Abs 2a EWGV 1408/71 ist das Arbeitslosengeld II (ohne den Zuschlag nach § 24 SGB 2) ausdrücklich zur beitragsunabhängigen Geldleistung erklärt worden. (Rn.20)

The arguments of the court being

a) that denying Arbeitslosengeld in such cases contravenes the imperative of equality,

B) that the benefits to which the SGB II refers (and subsequently the ARGE when denying Arbeitslosengeld II to EU citizens) differ from Arbeitslosengeld which is defined as "beitragsunabhängige Geldleistung", as laid down in the European Union Treaty (unlike Sozialhilfe). See also "Langtext" in the link.

So, if I interpret this correctly as a legal layperson, it is worthwhile applying for Arbeitslosengeld II, in the OP's case as a freelancer following the advice of Meikeerik (post #14). One problem I see is that the OP writes he hasn't paid any taxes. Even as a freelancer, he should have, but AFAIK he could do the tax declaration for 2008 until 31 May.

IMO Etheldread (post #8) could appeal the ARGE decision (Widerspruch einlegen), if it isn't past the deadline.

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Posted

Its been two months since i applied for hartz IV yet no response. I wonder where i went wrong. I submitted all the requirements needed. I am separated with two children and now i have 3months rent arrears. The only money we are surving on is kindergeld which is not even close to enough. I am living on a resident visa which comes with a work permit. My children are Germans.

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Posted

I suggest you go to ARGE and refuse to leave until they talk to you. There was some TV show called lawyer of the poor or something like that and she helped some people whose benefits had been unjustly denied and others where their papers had simply been lost. One of the supervisors at the ARGE actually said that if you feel that you are unjustly refused, you should ask for a 2nd opinion because if the employee who refused you was mistaken, they do not want you to just go home and starve. Another time, the lawyer barged into a council meating at the town council to request some help for a single mother who was left without any benefits and they did help, maybe only because the cameras were there but who knows. Anyway, you have to do something. If they really have lost your papers, you can not just sit at home and wait for them to not contact you.

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Posted

Khamete I would reach out to family services to act as your advocate here, try profamilia, rotes kruez ect. Also the churches diakonie, caritas, they can all help you and also direct you to non profit resources.

I agree you need to go back with a German speaker and demand someone talk to you. Kids are involved they cannot dicka round.

I wish I was closer but there are a lot of TTrs in Berlin hopefully someone can help out.

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Posted

Maybe dads income is disqualifying here but she should have been notified. If you are seperated he legally has to support you. I think you need to call on some social services you can get free legal help.

I know the word jugendamt scares people. But if my husband bailed and ran and left us to starve you better believe they would be the people I call first and they can help and can demand he offers support. They are not bad guys.

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Posted

Also if your app has issues they can still issue emergency food stamps to help support you.

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