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Are you temporarily unable to work or only a little work for health reasons and need financial support to cover basic living costs, such as rent and health insurance? This is where livelihood assistance can be there to support you until you feel better again.

Important facts

Assistance for subsistence is a social benefit provided by the state. It is sometimes referred to as social welfare .

It is intended for people who cannot work or can only work a little for a while. Because money is often scarce in such a case, the help for living expenses helps to pay for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter (rent).


It can only be received if no other state benefits, such as pensions or citizens' allowances, are eligible. The help of other people, such as family members, must also be excluded.


You can get help with your livelihood from the local social welfare office.

You can apply for subsistence assistance for yourself or for another person

  • If you would like to apply for the benefit for yourself, you can fill out the online application here.
  • Do you want to apply for subsistence assistance not for yourself, but for someone else? In this case, please contact your local social welfare office. The online application for this is currently still under construction and will soon be available here.

In these cases, assistance with living expenses is not the appropriate benefit

In these cases, assistance with living expenses is not the appropriate benefit

  • Permanent reduction in earning capacity

    If it is likely that you will not be able to work permanently (permanent reduction in earning capacity), assistance with living expenses is not the right benefit for you. In this case, please contact the German Pension Insurance. If it has been established that you are permanently incapacitated for work, basic income support in old age and in the event of reduced earning capacity may be the right benefit for you.

  • Shared household with person(s) capable of gainful employment

    Die Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt bekommen meistens nur alleinstehende Personen. Wenn Sie mit einer erwerbsfähigen Person (darunter fallen auch Kinder ab 15 Jahren) in einer Einstandsgemeinschaft leben, haben Sie keinen Anspruch auf Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt. Stattdessen kommt für Sie vielleicht Bürgergeld in Betracht.

    In most cases, only single people receive assistance with living expenses. If you live with a person of working age (including children aged 15 and over) in a single household, you are not entitled to assistance with living expenses. Instead, you may be eligible for citizen's benefit.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible if you

  • not being able to make a living from their own income and assets
  • are unable to support yourself with the help of other people, such as your wife or husband
  • have not yet reached retirement age
  • are temporarily unable to work (also known as "temporarily disabled")
  • have no or insufficient entitlement to other social benefits, such as child benefit, housing benefit, pension, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and parental allowance

* You are considered temporarily reduced in earning capacity if you are able to work less than 3 hours for more than 6 months (usually due to illness)

You are not eligible if you

  • live abroad permanently
  • are able to work, i.e. could work, and are therefore entitled to the "basic income support for jobseekers" benefit (citizen's allowance)
  • are permanently fully incapacitated for work
  • do not have German citizenship and do not have the necessary right of residence to receive assistance with living expenses
  • are entitled to benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act
  • receive a permanent reduced earning capacity pension or have reached the age for a regular old-age pension
  • live together with a person capable of work in a so-called single household (usually a joint household, see also section "Assistance for living expenses and family")

The most important topics relating to cost-of-living assistance

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Apply Online

You can apply for assistance with living expenses directly online here.