Yes, you can. You can either receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz), or from 1 June 2022 you can receive money from the jobcentre (if you are able to work) or from the welfare office (if your ability to work is limited or if you receive an old-age pension). You will need a residence permit (under Section 24 of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz)) or a provisional residence document (Fiktionsbescheinigung) from the foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde). If you are able to work, your local jobcentre will advise you on this; otherwise you will receive advice from your local welfare office.
The jobcentre (Jobcenter) can offer you the following types of support:
- Benefits to secure living expenses, housing and heating
- Labour market integration assistance (see Chapter 3)
Benefits to secure living expenses, housing and heating are money or vouchers for items such as food, clothing, personal hygiene items, and rent. In addition, you have health insurance under the statutory health insurance system. In the case of children and young adults, the costs of tutoring or music lessons, for example, can be covered.
Your local jobcentre will also advise you on these issues.
The welfare office (Sozialamt) can also support you with benefits to secure living expenses, i.e. money/vouchers for rent, food and personal hygiene items. It is also possible to receive one-off financial support, for example if you have found accommodation and need furniture. Ukrainians who receive money from the welfare office are not insured under the statutory health insurance system. However, you will nonetheless receive a health insurance card from a statutory health insurance fund and can, for example, go to a doctor if you are ill. The costs will then be covered by the welfare office.
Benefits provided under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz) also include the costs of accommodation, food, personal hygiene items, etc. You can also receive support for mobility or communication, as well as basic medical care.
If you need support, the first thing you should do is register at an initial reception centre (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung). You can be registered anywhere in Germany at a foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde) office.
You can receive money from the jobcentre or welfare office if you have applied for a residence permit under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) at the foreigners authority office of your place of residence or where you are staying. If a residence permit cannot be issued immediately under Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act, you will first be issued a provisional residence document (known as a Fiktionsbescheinigung). This document already entitles you to receive social benefits.
Filing a formal asylum application with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) also entitles you to benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. However, displaced persons from Ukraine are not required to apply for asylum in order to secure right of residence and/or to receive social benefits in Germany.
Family members who live with you can also receive benefits.
Depending on family circumstances and personal circumstances, you and your family members may be entitled to social benefits under various laws (Book II or Book XII of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch)). It is important that you apply in good time for these benefits to secure living expenses for yourself and your family members. If your local jobcentre or welfare office finds that one or more of your family members meet the criteria for another social benefit, it will pass on the application to the relevant agency.
Likewise, if you receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, you and your family members may be entitled to social benefits.
If you need assistance, benefits are provided in line with the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. The benefits to cover the need for food, accommodation, heating, clothing, health care, and durable and non-durable household goods. Further support is provided to cover people’s day-to-day needs (e.g. mobility and communication). In special individual cases, other benefits may also be granted if necessary.
Benefits to secure living expenses are only paid to those who cannot cover their living expenses from their own income or assets. In this context, the same rules apply as for all other people who receive social benefits in Germany.
When assessing the need for assistance, a person’s income and assets are only taken into account if they can actually be accessed. In addition, various allowances apply; this means that certain amounts can be kept. For example, income from employment is not fully counted against the benefits.
Assets which currently cannot be accessed because they are in Ukraine (e.g. real estate) are not taken into account. If you have significant assets which you can access (e.g. bank deposits, cash), then above a certain amount you must primarily use these assets to cover your living expenses.
From 1 June, refugees from Ukraine who are in need of assistance will receive assistance and social benefits under the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch) rather than the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz), as was previously the case. The prerequisite for this is that they have been fingerprinted and photographed by the authorities and have applied for a residence permit for temporary protection; that they have subsequently been issued a provisional residence document (Fiktionsbescheinigung) or a residence permit for temporary protection; and that they meet the other requirements to receive basic income support benefits under Book II or Book XII of the Social Code.
In the case of people who have been issued a residence permit for temporary protection or a corresponding provisional residence document after 24 February 2022 and before 1 June 2022, but have not yet been fingerprinted and photographed by the authorities, it is sufficient for their data to be recorded in the Central Register of Foreigners (Ausländerzentralregister). In these cases, the individuals must then be fingerprinted and photographed by the authorities by 31 August 2022.
The shift to providing benefits under the Social Code will ensure that comprehensive assistance is available in future to secure living expenses, for health care, and for integration. To make it easier for refugees to integrate, it will be made clear that they can start working immediately, and residence restrictions will be relaxed, particularly in cases where refugees have found a job, are attending integration courses, or are taking part in continuing education or training.