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Unemployed in Germany? Here’s your guide to ALG I & ALG II

Unemployment benefit in Germany

Work in Germany. Unemployment benefit in Germany. Who is entitled to unemployment benefit in Germany? How much is it? How is ALG I different from ALG II? Here is all you need to know:

Who is eligible for Arbeitslosengeld I (ALG I)

Arbeitslosengeld I (ALG I) is available to unemployed people who have worked in Germany for at least 12 months and paid social security contributions (unemployment insurance) die Arbeitslosenversicherung during that time.
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It is available to everyone not just people in a difficult financial situation, contrary to the Arbeitslosengeld II – ALG II (Hartz IV) allowance. Although it is commonly referred to as unemployment benefit, is in fact a social aid for people who are in a difficult financial situation. The application for HARTZ IV is submitted to the Jobcentre.

Individuals can go online and register for unemployment or the status of "jobseeker"
Individuals can register for unemployment or the status of “jobseeker” online

How much is the allowance for Arbeitslosengeld I – ALG I

The amount of the allowance depends on the amount you received before you lost your job. Childless people receive 60 percent of the current salary, and people with dependent children 67 percent salary.
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Just like a regular salary, the benefit is subject to tax snd social security contributions. These will be automatically subtracted before being transferred to your bank account every end month. Deductions included:

  • Income tax
  • Pension insurance (9.35%)
  • Unemployment insurance (1.2%)
  • Long-term care insurance (1.525%)
  • Statutory health insurance (7.3 – 8.2%)

Is the person receiving the Arbeitslosengeld I – ALG I benefit covered by health insurance?

Yes, ALG I recipients are covered by health insurance.

Do you still receive Arbeitslosengeld I if you have left your job?

According to the regulations, a person who has left work may not receive Arbeitslosengeld I benefit until 12 weeks from the date of termination.
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This is known as a blocking period (Sperrzeit). This happens if you are deemed to have ‘intentionally’ caused yourself to need unemployment benefits, for example if:

  • You resign;
  • You have been fired for misconduct
  • You don’t register as a job seeker promptly.
  • You are offered work, but you do not accept
  • You do not participate in so-called “integration measures”
  • You fail to provide evidence that you are looking for a new job
  • You signed a termination contract and received severance pay

Fixed-term employment contract and reporting unemployment

Note that you must report your unemployment to the Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) the day after the end of the contract. Persons with a fixed-term employment contract must take into account the fact that it may not be extended.
Important: Persons working on a fixed-term contract can register as a “job seeker” three months before its expiry, if they are not sure whether it will be extended.
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Where to register for unemployment

Individuals can register for unemployment or the status of “jobseeker” online via the Bundesagentur für Arbeit website.

Alternatively, you can register yourself as unemployed at your local employment agency. You will need to bring: 

  • Identity card or passport (not driving license)
  • Registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung)
  • Visa or residence permit  (if applicable)
Unemployment benefit is aid for people who are in financial difficultly
Unemployment benefit is a social aid for people who are in a difficult financial situation

How long will ALG I unemployment benefit be paid

The length of the benefit payment depends on the length of service of the unemployed person and his age. It ranges from 180 to 720 calendar days.

Contribution periodAgePeriod of law
12 months6 months
16 monthsEight months
20 months10 months
24 months12 months
30 months 5015 months

Where do you submit the ALG I application?

You must apply for the Arbeitslosengeld I benefit to the local employment office, Agentur für Arbeit . To find the office responsible for your place of residence, enter the postcode in the Agentur für Arbeit district finder.