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Drawing child benefit in the case of adult children

Child benefit represents a not insignificant part of household income, particularly in the case of large families. Since 1.1.2021, for the first and second child, €219 has been paid to parents monthly for each child. For the third child, the child benefit goes up to €225 and an amount of €250 is paid for each additional child. It is possible that the new German government will even resolve to raise these amounts for 2022.

If the child is an adult then the Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse) will continue to still pay child benefits up to the child’s 25th birthday if, during this period, the child

  • is undergoing vocational training or studying (even in the case of a second vocational training course or a second degree course),
  • has to wait for a place on a training course or a degree course, 
  • is doing voluntary work within the scope of the voluntary social year (freiwilliges soziales Jahr) or Federal voluntary service (Bundesfreiwilligendienst), or
  • is taking a break of no more than four months between the stages of vocational training.

If the child is already completing a second course of vocational training then, normally, they are not allowed to do more than 20 hours of additional work per week in order for the child benefit to continue to be paid (so-called employment test). If the 20-hour limit is exceeded then this side job would be deemed to be a main job so that there would no longer be an entitlement to child benefit.

Please note: After successfully completing a bachelor’s degree programme, if the child immediately embarks on studies for a relevant master’s degree then, normally, the latter course of studies would not be deemed to be a second vocational training programme but rather still part of the first course of training. Consequently, the Family Benefits Office would not yet be allowed to perform an employment test and, therefore, the child benefit would have to be paid out irrespective of the number of hours worked in the side job.

If there is more than four months between the completion of the child’s first training course and the start of the second training course then the parents would not be entitled to child benefit for these months. In such a case, two points in time would be crucial for the Family Benefits Office, namely, 

  • the date of completion of the first training course and
  • the start date of the second one.

The Family Benefits Office would consider the first training course to have been completed once the written certificate has been provided and, for example, can be downloaded via an online portal (thus not the date when the child actually collected their certificate). The Family Benefits Office takes the view that the second training course begins on the date that the programme actually starts. 

For a course of studies this implies that the crucial factor is not the date of the application or matriculation but rather of attending seminars and lectures. Only if this period of time between the end of the first training course and the start of the second one is less than four months would it be deemed to be a ‘transitional period’ during which parents are entitled to child benefit.

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