Child benefit for a second degree

Parents can still receive child benefit after their child’s 18th birthday. For example, the right to child benefit for an adult child can be extended up to the child’s 25th birthday if the child is studying or training. However, a distinction must always be made between first degree and second degree. Because with one second degree there are stricter requirements for receiving child benefit than for a first degree. For example, the child benefit entitlement for a child in the second degree can be lost if the child goes to work too many hours during the second degree. However, this risk does not yet exist for a first degree.

Child benefit for first degree

If the child starts studying for the first time after graduating from high school and has not yet completed another course of study or vocational training, this is referred to as a first degree. Parents who receive their first degree continue to receive child benefit as long as the student has not yet reached the age of 25. There are no further requirements for receiving child benefit when studying for the first time. Because, according to the new legal situation, the amount of income from first degree no longer plays a role in the continuation of the child benefit. With an adult child of the first degree, the parents can access everyone with the Plan child benefit until the child has celebrated its 25th birthday.

Decisive for the end of the child benefit is the time at which the examination results of the final examination are available and not the time at which the last examination was taken. This emerges from a current judgment of the Saxony Financial Court (FG Sachsen, judgment of June 17, 2015, Az. 4 K 357/11). In this procedure, the parents had sued a student who had to wait six months after submitting her diploma thesis for the grade to be announced. The family fund ceased paying child benefits after the thesis had been submitted. However, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs that they were still entitled to child benefit until the examination results were announced, since the study only ended when the examination results were announced.

Requirements for receiving child benefit for a second degree

If the child has already completed a course of study or training and then starts another course of study, it is a second course. This would be the case, for example, if a medical student after this Abitur first trained as a nurse and only then began studying medicine. The distinction between first degree or first degree and second degree is important for the right to child benefit, since stricter requirements apply to child benefit entitlement for the second degree. The parents’ entitlement to child benefit during a second course of study expires if the child works more than 20 hours a week during this period. It does not matter whether the job is self-employed or not.

Exemptions for second degree students

There are also exceptions to this rule. The child benefit for a second degree will continue to be paid regardless of the number of hours worked per week if the student is in marginal employment. Likewise, all activities within the framework of an apprenticeship relationship are harmless for the child benefit entitlement for a second degree. Under this rule, for example, the legal traineeship falls on a teaching post.

Another exception is special for students, who want to use the lecture-free time during their semester break to earn some extra money. Child benefit entitlement can continue in the second degree if the student works more than 20 hours a week for a temporary period of up to two months. However, the prerequisite is that the student has worked an average of no more than 20 hours per week throughout the year.

Child benefit for the master’s degree

In the course of the Bologna process, the diploma courses were replaced by the bachelor and master courses a few years ago. For the child benefit, the question now is whether that Master’s degree following a bachelor’s degree, it can still be classified as part of the first degree or as a new second degree. For a long time, the financial administration assumed that a master’s degree should generally be regarded as a new degree and thus as a second degree after completing a bachelor’s degree. This would result in the parents of students who work more than 20 hours a week during a master’s program no longer receiving child benefit from the family benefits.

Consecutive master’s degree as part of initial training

However, the German courts sometimes have a different legal view than the financial administration. According to the currently prevailing jurisprudence, a master’s degree following a bachelor’s degree is considered to be a continuation of the first degree if the master’s degree is closely related in terms of subject matter and time to the previous bachelor’s degree and is based on the content of the previous bachelor’s degree as a so-called consecutive master’s degree. As a result, the child benefit will continue to be paid to the parents during the master’s program if the child is employed for more than 20 hours a week in addition to the master’s program.

For example, the Federal Fiscal Court (judgment of September 3, 2015, Az.VI R 9/15, published on November 18, 2015) recently decided that a student who, after completing his bachelor’s degree in business mathematics, was still studying for a master’s degree in this course was still in a first degree. As a result, the student’s mother was still entitled to child benefit while her child was studying for a master’s degree, even though his student’s weekly hours had exceeded 20 hours.


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Christina Cherry
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