Child benefit entitlement for unemployment, training and studies – child benefit payment dates

Up to the child’s 18th birthday, parents who live with their child or have their habitual residence in Germany have a general one Child benefit, without further conditions having to be met. But even after the child’s 18th birthday, parents can still be entitled to child benefit. Whether and how long child benefit is paid for children of full age depends on whether one of the requirements of section 32 (4) EStG is met. In the following, we will explain to you what requirements must be met so that parents can continue to receive child benefit for adults. The eligibility requirements are checked by the family fund. The child benefit is generally paid out monthly. In order to receive child benefit for the entire month, it is sufficient if the eligibility requirements are met on one day of the month.

Child benefit entitlement in the event of unemployment

A child benefit can continue to exist beyond the age of 18 if the child is unemployed. A requirement for child benefit in the event of unemployment is, however, that the adult child is also registered as a job seeker with the Federal Employment Agency. A registration as a job seeker is also mandatory for child benefit in the event of unemployment even if the child is unable to work due to an illness. This emerges from a current judgment of the Cologne Financial Court (FG Köln, judgment of March 10, 2016, Az. 1 K 560/14). However, the child benefit entitlement in the event of unemployment ends in any case when the child has reached the age of 21.

Child benefit entitlement for training and studies

Child benefit can be claimed for a degree or training even longer than unemployment. In the case of children who are still in an apprenticeship or are studying, the right to child benefit can even be extended up to the age of 25. There is also a right to child benefit beyond the age of 18 if the child is currently looking for a place to study or an apprenticeship. In this case, too, there is an upper limit of 25 years. It is crucial for the further payment of the child benefit that the child also makes serious efforts to find a place to study or an apprenticeship. Otherwise, the family funds can stop the payment of child benefit, as a recent judgment of the Federal Fiscal Court (BFH, judgment of August 26, 2014, XI R 14/12) shows. As a result, the family fund was entitled to discontinue child benefit payments after the plaintiff’s daughter refused a study place offered to her. In addition, child benefit will continue to be paid to parents if the child is under 25 and is currently in a voluntary social year or other recognized voluntary service.

Child benefit for secondary education or study

Entitlement to child benefit in the case of an apprenticeship or a course of study can also exist beyond the age of 18 up to a maximum of 25 years of age. However, a distinction must still be made here between a first degree or first degree and a second degree or second degree. According to the new legal situation, the child benefit entitlement is extended for initial studies or initial training, regardless of whether the student is also gainfully employed. The situation is different with a second degree or a second course. In the case of a second education or a second degree, the parents’ entitlement to child benefit expires if the adult child also works more than 20 hours a week. It does not matter whether it is a self-employed or a self-employed activity. An exception applies only to marginal employment as well as activities in the context of an apprenticeship.

Child benefit entitlement for children with disabilities

In the case of children with a disability, the child benefit can not only continue beyond the age of 18, but also beyond the age of 25. However, this must be a permanent handicap, as a result of which the child is unable to make a living on his own. The disability must be proven with a severely disabled person’s pass. Children with disabilities are only entitled to child benefit if the disability occurred before the child reached the age of 25.

Who is entitled to child benefit?

A common misconception is that children themselves are entitled to child benefit. This is usually not the case. The right to child benefit is usually with the parents. In addition to the biological parents, foster parents, step-parents, adoptive parents or grandparents can also be entitled to child benefit if they have included the child for whom child benefit is sought in their household. An exception only applies if the child is an orphan or does not know the whereabouts of the parents. In this case, the child is entitled to child benefit according to Section 1 (2) of the Federal Child Allowance Act (BKGG).

It is quite so possible, that not just one person, but several people are entitled to child benefit at the same time. This is the case, for example, with parents living separately. Nevertheless, only one parent can ever receive child benefit. In the case of parents living separately, the Federal Child Allowance Act provides that the parent who receives the child benefit is paid the child benefit. If the child is no longer living with one of the parents, the parent who receives the higher cash support to the child receives child benefit.

Application for diversion of child benefit

The child benefit is actually supposed to benefit the children. However, parents are usually entitled to child benefit. However, if the parents fail to meet their child maintenance obligations, the child can request that the child benefit be paid out to them and not to one of the parents. To do this, an application must be made to the family fund to divert child benefit in accordance with Section 74 of the Income Tax Act.

When does the child benefit claim expire?

The child benefit claim becomes statute-barred after four years after § 45 SGB I. This means that parents can apply for child benefit for up to four years retrospectively. In order to secure the child benefit claims, it is sufficient to submit the child benefit application within this four-year period, since the limitation period is inhibited by the child benefit application. The child benefit is then also still paid out after the four years.

Submit child benefit application – how it works

Even if the right to child benefit automatically arises when the child is born, the child benefit is not automatically paid out to the parents. As a rule, child benefit must be requested from the family benefits office. An exception rule only applies to civil servants and civil servants. In these occupational groups, it is not the family fund, but the remuneration or salary office that is responsible for processing the child benefit application. The child benefit application must always be submitted in writing. Receive the necessary application form for the child benefit application You at the family fund or download it from the website of the Federal Employment Agency. When applying for child benefit for the first time, the family fund must also be presented with the child’s birth certificate. In the case of children of legal age, the family fund must provide proof that the eligibility requirements for child benefit continue to be met by presenting appropriate certificates, such as a study certificate or a training certificate.

Child allowance as an alternative to paying child benefit

As an alternative to the monthly payment of child benefit, there is also the child allowance in accordance with section 32 (6) EStG. If there is a right to child benefit, parents can alternatively take advantage of the child tax allowance. The two do not work together. For parents, this means that they can either receive child benefit every month or take advantage of the child tax allowance to pay less tax. Unfortunately, it is not possible to say which of these two alternatives makes more financial sense. It always depends on the individual case. But don’t worry, the tax office automatically carries out a favorable check to determine whether child benefit or the child allowance is the better choice for the respective taxpayer. In 2019, the child allowance is EUR 7,620 per child per child for both parents. This amount is made up as follows:

  • 2,640 euros for childcare, education and training needs
  • 4,980 euros for the neuter subsistence level of the child

If the parents live separately, half the child allowance is applied to both parents.


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Christina Cherry
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