Parental allowance is available for employees, civil servants, self-employed and unemployed parents, students and trainees. In addition to birth parents and adoptive parents, relatives up to the third degree can also receive parental allowance in exceptional cases, such as grandparents or siblings.
Parents are entitled to parental allowance if they
- take care of and raise their children themselves after birth,
- do not work more than 30 hours a week (as of September 1, 2021, the maximum permissible working hours are to be increased to 32 hours a week),
- live in a household with their children and
- have a place of residence or habitual abode in Germany.
Parental couples who had a joint taxable income of more than €500,000 (more than €250,000 for single parents) in the calendar year before the birth of their child are not entitled to parental allowance. From September 1, 2021, the income limit for parental couples is to be lowered to €300,000. For single parents, the limit is to remain at €250,000.
14 months basic parental allowance
Parents can receive up to 14 months of basic parental allowance from the birth of a child, or parental allowance plus beyond that. The parental allowance is paid for months of the child's life.
Mothers and fathers generally have 12 monthly amounts at their disposal, which they can divide between themselves. If both parents use the parental allowance and they lose earned income, the parental allowance is paid for 2 additional months (partner months). The parental allowance can be drawn as a basic parental allowance for up to 14 months. A single parent can receive the benefit for a minimum of two months and a maximum of 12 months. An exception is made for single parents, whose earned income is reduced for 2 months: They can receive up to 14 months of basic parental benefit alone.
If the mother and father work part-time while receiving parental allowance, their weekly working hours must not exceed 30 hours (from September 1, 2021, the permissible weekly working hours are to be increased to 32 hours).
Longer support with ElterngeldPlus
In addition to parental allowance in the form of the basic parental allowance, parents have the option of claiming ElterngeldPlus. ElterngeldPlus is available in particular to parents who wish to work part-time while receiving parental allowance. ElterngeldPlus is calculated in the same way as the basic parental allowance, but amounts to a maximum of half of the parental allowance to which parents without part-time income would be entitled after the birth. In return, it is paid for twice the period: one parental allowance month = two parental allowance plus months. Basic parental allowance and ElterngeldPlus can be freely combined. If both parents work an average of between 25 - 30 hours per week in parallel for four consecutive months, each parent receives additional monthly amounts of ElterngeldPlus (partnership bonus) for these 4 months. From September 1, 2021, the partnership bonus is to be made more flexible: In the future, it will also be possible to receive it with 24 - 32 hours per week (instead of 25 - 30 hours per week as before). The current fixed entitlement period of four months is to be replaced by a more flexible entitlement period of between two and four months. In addition, amounts paid out for months in which the benefit requirements were met will no longer be reclaimed, unlike in the past.
Single parents can claim the partnership bonus and the partner months themselves, provided they meet the necessary requirements.
Parental allowance plus thus secures families beyond the child's 14th month of life, facilitates early return to work, and gives couples greater freedom to claim parental allowance at the same time, making it easier for them to share their family and work responsibilities as partners.
Parental allowance is based on net income
The amount of parental allowance is based on the net income that the parent providing care had before the child was born. In principle, the twelve calendar months prior to the birth of the child are decisive for determining income from non-self-employment. Months in which the mother was not allowed to work due to the statutory maternity protection period or earned less due to a pregnancy-related illness do not count. This also applies to months in which maternity benefits or parental benefits were received for an older child or months in which income was lost due to periods of military or civilian service. Instead of these months, months further back are taken as a basis.
Self-employed persons usually prove their profit income by means of the tax assessment notice for the calendar year before the birth.
The parental allowance replaces 67% of the income lost after the birth of the child for previous incomes between €1,000 and €1,200, 66% for previous incomes of €1,220 and 65% for previous incomes of €1,240 and more. The maximum amount is €1,800.
For previous incomes of less than €1,000, the replacement rate increases gradually up to 100% - the lower the income, the higher the replacement rate.
Even without prior employment, the minimum amount of €300 or €150 in the case of ElterngeldPlus can be drawn. Families with several small children receive a sibling bonus or a multiple child supplement.
Maternity benefits are counted towards the parental allowance. Months with maternity benefits are considered basic parental benefit months for the mother. These months reduce the number of possible parenting benefit months that can be shared by both parents.
Membership in the statutory health insurance remains in effect while receiving parental allowance and during parental leave. Compulsory members do not have to pay contributions to the statutory health insurance from the parental allowance.
Applying for parental allowance
Parental allowance must be applied for in writing. Each parent can apply for parental allowance once. The respective application can be changed until the end of the parental allowance, but only for the future or for monthly amounts not yet paid out. The situation is different for parental allowance plus: months in which parental allowance plus has already been received can also be subsequently converted into basic parental allowance months. The application does not have to be made immediately after the birth of the child. However, retroactive payments are only made for the last 3 months before the start of the month in which the application for parental allowance was received by the parental allowance office. Therefore, it is recommended to submit the application to the parental allowance office within the first 3 months of the child's life.
The Center for Bavarian Family and Social Affairs (ZBFS) offers an online application on its homepage www.zbfs.bayern.de. The parental allowance calculator of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, which is also posted there, can be used to calculate the expected parental allowance without obligation.