Care allowance: how can you apply for it?

Since August 1, 2013, there has been a childcare allowance for parents who do not take advantage of a public childcare place for their small child. Find the answers to the six most important questions about childcare allowance here and find out how you can apply for childcare allowance.

1. Who is entitled to care allowance?

Since August 1, 2013, parents of small children can apply for childcare allowance. However, there are some prerequisites for this:

  • No publicly funded childcare place may be claimed for the child, regardless of whether it is in a daycare center or with a childminder.
  • Entitlement only exists for parents of children who are no older than one year when the childcare allowance is introduced. An application for care allowance only has a chance of success if the child was born after August 1, 2012.
  • If the parents’ income is above a certain income limit, there is no entitlement to care allowance. The last assessment period before the birth of the child is decisive. If the parents’ income listed there exceeds EUR 500,000 (single parents: EUR 250,000), an application for care allowance will not be granted.

Please note: childcare allowance is also paid if both parents work and the child is being cared for elsewhere, for example by the grandparents. It is therefore not necessary for a parent to give up working altogether. As long as it is not publicly funded, care outside the family is even possible. In order to avoid misunderstandings or nasty surprises, it is advisable to discuss possible facilities with the youth welfare office.

2. How much is the care allowance?

The care allowance, which is paid by the federal states on behalf of the federal government, initially amounts to 100 euros per child in the first year after the introduction. From August 1, 2014, it will then be raised to 150 euros per month. It is important to note that childcare allowance is paid for each child who meets the above conditions, regardless of how many children live in the household.

3. How long is childcare allowance available?

In principle, childcare allowance is paid for children in their second and third year of life. However, since it cannot be drawn at the same time as the parental allowance , the entitlement usually exists from the beginning of the 15th month of life until the end of the 36th month of the child’s life, i.e. for a maximum of 22 months in total. However, parents can choose how long they want to receive care allowance and can therefore also apply for only six months.

The payment period for childcare allowance may deviate from this regulation if both parents receive parental allowance at the same time. Since the parental allowance payments then end earlier, a claim to childcare allowance can also be asserted before the 15th month of life.

Another exception is when the parental allowance period has been extended and the parents are only paid half of the money for twice the time. In this case, childcare allowance can also be paid in parallel during the second half of the parental allowance reference period.

Note: The entitlement to childcare allowance ends earlier if the child is placed in a publicly funded childcare relationship during the requested payment period. Such a change must be reported immediately. In this case, the care allowance is paid until the end of the month of the child’s life in which it entered care.

4. How is childcare allowance applied for?

Childcare allowance is not paid automatically, but must be applied for in writing from the responsible office using a special form and signed by both parents. One signature is sufficient for single parents. You can find the application forms online, for example. In some federal states, the childcare allowance office automatically sends an application form around the child’s first birthday.

You can see which authority is responsible for processing the applications in a list on the website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) . However, applications for care allowance can also be submitted to the municipal administration, which will then forward them to the appropriate office.

The application must first contain the personal data of the child and the applicant. You will also be asked whether you receive other benefits in addition to childcare allowance, such as parental allowance or similar benefits abroad. Another very important information is the months for which care allowance is to be applied for. It is important to know that the period can only be changed once. Finally, you have to sign a declaration in the application that you will not make use of any public care while you are moving in.

Note: Since the money is only paid three months retrospectively, it is very important to submit the application in good time. It is possible to apply for care allowance together with the parental allowance.

5. Does care allowance affect other benefits?

From a purely legal point of view, childcare allowance is a priority service. This means that if you receive unemployment benefit II (Hartz IV), social assistance or child allowance, it will be offset against these benefits.

When receiving unemployment benefit I or BAföG, the situation is a little different. Care allowance, like parental allowance, is not counted towards these benefits up to a monthly amount of 300 euros.

6. What happens next with the care allowance?

Even after its introduction, the care allowance is still very controversial. The SPD and the Greens have announced that they want to abolish the childcare allowance if they win the next federal election. The future of the care allowance is therefore still unclear.

The Union is planning to expand the care allowance. Parents who invest the care allowance for old-age provision or education savings should receive a monthly bonus of 15 euros. The Care Allowance Supplement Act, which is intended to regulate these plans, was passed by the Bundestag in June 2013. The Federal Council’s decision is still pending (as of August 2, 2013).

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