Many Polish people working in Germany benefit from Kindergeld. A much less popular allowance is Elterngeld. Therefore, we will try to explain what this benefit is, how to obtain it, how long and in what amount it is paid, as well as whether it can be paid for children born in Poland.

1. What is Elterngeld?

Elterngeld constitutes an allowance to which new parents are entitled. Thanks to that, parents can give up work or reduce it and focus on taking care of a new family member. For this reason, the name of this benefit is translated into English as parental allowance or child-raising allowance.

Several types of Elterngeld can be distinguished:

  • Basiselterngeld – this is a basic benefit, without any bonuses;
  • ElterngeldPlus – in this option, the applicant can receive the allowance twice as long as the standard, but the amount is halved; the condition for benefiting from ElterngeldPlus is that the applicant takes up part-time employment (no more than 32 hours per week);
  • Partnerschaftsbonus (bonus for partners) – this option can be used by parents who raise a child together and who have reduced their employment and work on average between 24 and 32 hours per week; by choosing this benefit option, parents can extend the period of receiving the basic benefit by additional 4 months for each of them;
  • Partnermonate – if both parents of the child reduce their work for at least two months, the period of receiving the basic benefit is extended by additional 2 months for the other parent.

2. Persons entitled to Elterngeld

It’s possible to apply for Elterngeld payment for both your own child and for someone else’s one. In the latter case, the allowance can be requested for if:

  • the applicant plans to adopt a child,
  • the child is the child of the applicant’s life partner,
  • the applicant is waiting for acknowledgement of his paternity,
  • the child’s parents can’t take care of him/ her due to illness, serious handicap or deatch – in such a situation, a relative of the child up to the third degree of consanguinity may submit an application for allowance.

The German legislator made the granting and payment of Elterngeld dependent on the applicant meeting the following conditions:

  • the applicant has his/her permanent place of residence or stay in Germany – this condition is met if the applicant stays in Germany for at least 183 days a year. This condition isn’t absolute. Indeed, the allowance can also be applied for by persons who:
    • are employed in Germany but perform work abroad,
    • work in third world countries or on foreign missions as volunteers,
    • are German citizens employed in international organisations or diplomacy;
  • the applicant and the child live in the same household;
  • the applicant is raising his/her child himself/herself;
  • the person requesting for the benefit shouldn’t work full-time;
  • the applicant doesn’t exceed the salary treshold – for single parents, this treshold is €250,000.00 and for couples raising a child together, it’s €500,000.00.

For the granting of the benefit, it isn’t of any importance whether the applicant was gainfully employed, conducted an economic activity or was unemployed before the birth of the child.

3. Period for which Elterngeld is granted

Elterngeld is paid from the date of birth until the child is 14 months old. Persons who have taken care of someone else’s child may apply for the benefit for a period of 14 months from the moment of taking custody of the baby, but no later than until the child turns 8 years old.

As a general rule, the allowance is paid for up to 12 months. However, there may be situations that result in a change to the benefit payment period. These include the following ones:

  • both parents receiving the benefit at the same time – the period during which the benefit is paid is reduced to 6 months,
  • the applicant uses the ElterngeldPlus option – the period of receiving the benefit is extended to 24 months,
  • the child’s parents decided on the so-called Partnerschaftsbonus – each parent receives 4 additional months of benefit,
  • both parents decided to use the Partnermonate option – the benefit period is extended by 2 additional months.

4. Elterngeld amount

The amount of Elterngeld is calculated on the basis of the applicant’s net income over the period of 12 months before the birth of the child. The calculation of the allowance basis doesn’t take into account, among others, maternity allowance, unemployment benefit, scholarships, allowance paid to the mother for illness during pregnancy.

The applicant should receive a benefit of not less than 65% of the remuneration equivalent. However, this amount can’t be lower than EUR 300 and higher than EUR 1,800. In the event that the applicant’s salary is very low, he/she will get a benefit of 100% of his/her net income.

A woman who has given birth to more than one baby during one delivery is entitled to an additional amount of €300 for each subsequent child.

If the child for whom Elterngeld is to be paid has an older sibling, the applicant is entitled to a benefit supplement. This is the so-called Geschwisterbonus (sibling bonus). It is granted in the event that the applicant already has:

  • 1 child under 3 years of age, or
  • 2 children under the age of 6, or
  • 1 disabled child under 14 years old.

5. How to get Elterngeld?

Elterngeld is paid at the request of the person concerned. The application shall be accompanied by, among others:

  • the child’s birth certificate,
  • a copy of the applicant’s identity card,
  • a certificate of income over the period of 12 months preceding the birth of the child,
  • a certificate from the employer confirming that the applicant has been granted parental leave.

The application and its attachments should be submitted to the appropriate local Elterngeldstelle (Parental allowance office).

Elterngeld can be paid retroactively – up to a maximum of 3 months from the date of submission of the application. Therefore, the request for its payment shall be made at the latest until the child reaches the age of 3 months.

6. Elterngeld for children born in Poland

It’s possible to receive Elterngeld for children born in Poland. As previously indicated, the basic condition for granting the benefit is that the applicant has his/her centre of vital interests in Germany. Therefore, he/she should stay in this country for at least 183 days a year. If the condition in question isn’t fulfilled, it’s impossible to apply for Enterngeld for a child born in Poland.

7. Tax settlement and Elterngeld

Elterngeld isn’t taxed. However, this benefit shall be shown in the annual tax return. Moreover, it’s included in income. Therefore, it affects the tax rate and increases it.

8. Legal notice

The study is a work within the meaning of the Act of 4 February 1994 on Copyright and Related Rights (OJ 2006, No. 90, item 631, consolidated text, as amended). Publishing or reproducing this study or its part, quoting opinions, as well as disseminating in any other way the information contained therein without the written consent of Crede sp. z o.o. is prohibited.

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