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Citizens’ Basic Income – An overview of the eligibility criteria and standard rates

On 1.1.2023, Germany will replace Hartz IV [its means-tested basic income scheme] with the so-called Citizens’ Basic Income [in German: Bürgergeld] as the form of social and state welfare in order to ensure basic income or a basic income benefit for those able to work and who require support. The rules that will arise here are discussed in the following section.

Eligibility criteria 

Citizens’ Basic Income payments will be subject to certain conditions and will thus not constitute unconditional basic income. According to the 2023 Citizen’s Income Act (Bürgergeld-Gesetz 2023), in order to be able to claim Citizens’ Basic Income the following requirements will have to be satisfied.

(1) Need for support – A major prerequisite for entitlement to Citizens’ Basic Income for people who are able to work is the need for support. People deemed to be in need of support are those who are not able to cover, or not sufficiently, their living expenses from the income or assets to be taken into account and who do not receive the requisite help from others, in particular, from relatives or providers of social security benefits (e.g., housing benefit or supplementary child allowance).  

(2) Obligation to take up work – If a recipient of Citizens’ Basic Income payments is able to work then they are obliged to take up work. People deemed able to work are those who, in the foreseeable future, are not incapable, because of sickness or disability, of working for at least three hours every day under the usual conditions of the general labour market. However, the recipient generally has to take on any job insofar as it is reasonable – the benefit recipient thus has to be physically, mentally and emotionally able to perform the work. 

(3) Habitually resident in Germany – The claimant has to have their habitual residence in Germany. Therefore, foreign nationals will generally also have the same entitlement to Citizens’ Basic Income as German nationals. 

Amount and duration of Citizens’ Basic Income  

According to the draft legislation, which was approved on 10.11.2022, the standard rate of Citizens’ Basic Income for single persons will be €502. This corresponds to a monthly increase of €53 on the previous standard rate. 

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