Public Benefits

What kind of financial and material support can be received from public authorities by asylum seekers and recognized refugees?

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Benefits for Asylum Seekers

Basic benefits are received by asylum seekers and all other foreigners for whom it has not yet been decided whether they will be allowed to stay in Germany or not. This is regulated in what is called “Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz” (“Asylum Seekers Benefits Act”).

You do not have to apply for these benefits, it is taken care of by the authorities.
The kind of benefits you exactly receive depend primarily on how you are accommodated, i.e. where you live. The support may be material or in cash: for accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc.

The responsibility lies with the relevant Office for Social Affairs (“Amt für soziale Angelegenheiten”, often called “Sozialamt”):

Benefits for Recognized Refugees

After your recognition as a refugee the “Sozialamt” will stop being your main provider of benefits, and you will usually be transferred to the “Jobcenter”. The “Jobcenter” will be responsible for securing your livelihood until you find a job, a job training (“Ausbildung”), or the like.

You will also become a member of a health insurance (“Krankenversicherung”). Usually, you will be insured at AOK, but in Germany the insurance can actually be chosen freely. With the insurance card you can go to the doctor, and many medical treatments are then automatically paid for by the insurance company.

In addition to support from the Jobcenter, there are many other ways to receive public benefits in Germany.

For more information on this issue, see mainly “Financial Aid” (in the “Family” section) and “General Information” (in the “Health” section).