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Elterngeld: The Basics

Elterngeld: The Basics

Now that I’ve finished my e-book, I (Lorna) have been working on answering various ‘frequently asked questions’, asked by my clients and by new parents or those expecting a new baby on web forums. Elterngeld is a very big topic here so I hope that I can give a short, concise overview.

Elterngeld is a bit of a minefield. There are lots of rules (it wouldn’t be Germany if there weren’t) and even when you think you might be on top of things, a letter from the Elterngeldstelle scuppers your plans for a relaxed post-birth year at home with your baby.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is Elterngeld?

Elterngeld is an income replacement benefit for parents with young children who are reducing their weekly working hours to between 30 and 0 in order to take care of their child(ren) at home.

Who can claim Elterngeld?

Biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and in some cases, grandparents can claim Elterngeld. The prerequisites are that they are caring for the child(ren) in their household and working fewer than 30 hours per week (in any capacity, including freelance and minijob) For the non-German citizens, there are further eligibility criteria such as having the passport of a country in the European Economic Area or if not, having a residence permit that entitles you to work in Germany in any job (you should check in advance with the Elterngeldstelle whether or not you are eligible). Of course, your place of residence needs to be in Germany so an Anmeldung is required. Even if you’re a stay-at-home spouse or partner living in Germany, if you are entitled to work in Germany, you can claim Elterngeld.

How much is Elterngeld?

If you’re employed, Elterngeld is based on your nett individual income, taxed in a country of the European Economic Area, averaged over the last 12 months before your baby is born. Of course, it’s not a straight forward calculation but generally it amounts to around 65%* of the aforementioned amount. Income taxed outside of the EEA doesn’t count for the Elterngeld calculation.

If you’re self-employed or freelance (even if that’s in addition to an employment contract), Elterngeld is calculated based on your profit from the previous tax year. Again, the calculation is aroiund 65% of your average profit over the 12 months of the previous tax year.

Elterngeld is capped at 1,800 Euro. Elterngeld is capped at 1,800 Euro. This means that those earning more than 2770 Euro per month will receive the maximum. The minimum is 300 Euro.

Elterngeld plus is half the amount of Elterngeld, therefore 900 Euro maximum and 150 Euro minimum.

Here is a handy Elterngeld calculator, which gives an indication of how much Elterngeld you might receive.

*The percentage rises, the lower the income.

When/for how long do you get Elterngeld?

Generally, you can claim a minimum of 2 and maximum of 12 months of Elterngeld as an individual and if both of you want to reduce your working hours (i.e. take ‘Elternzeit’- paternity or maternity leave), you can have 14 months in total to share between you. Those with single parent tax status can have 14 months for themselves.

Both parents can claim Elterngeld in parallel.

There are several models, which are customisable to your personal circumstances:

Basis Elterngeld:

Can be claimed within your child’s first 14 months of life. After the 14th month, you can no longer claim Basis Elterngeld.

Elterngeld Plus:

Half of the Basis Elterngeld amount, paid over double the time period of Basis Elterngeld, i.e. up to 24/28 months. Once you surpass your child’s 14th month of life, you cannot have any gaps in your Elterngeld Plus claim, in other words the months have to be consecutive.

Partnerschaftsbonus:

An additional 4 Elterngeld Plus months if both parents are working between 25 and 30 hours per week. Those with single parent tax status can claim these months for themselves.

Partnermonate:

Are the two additional months awarded when both parents take time off or reduce their working hours to take care of their child(ren), meaning you get 14/28 months, rather than 12/24 (Basis Elterngeld/Elterngeld Plus).

Anything else?

If as a mother you are claiming Mutterschaftsgeld -maternity money (co-paid by your health insurance and employer) it’s important to know that for the 8 weeks after the birth, you may effectively lose 2 months of Basis Elterngeld, since the Mutterschaftsgeld usually amounts to 100% of your salary, thus overriding Elterngeld.

Elterngeld is paid out in ‘life months’ of your child e.g. if your baby is born on 15th April, the first ‘life month’ is 15.04-14.05, LM2 is 15.05-14.06 etc.

Elterngeld is paid only 3 months retroactively (so make sure you apply promptly)

Your application may take a while to process so it’s important to save a little money before your baby is born, if possible.

If you give birth to multiples, you receive a 300 Euro bonus for each additional baby.

If you have a child under 3 living in your household, you receive a sibling bonus of 10% of your Elterngeld, minimum 75 Euro per month.

If you have any questions about Elterngeld, get in touch! Maternita offers guidance and support for all your baby-related  paperwork needs.

51 Comments
  1. Hello,
    I am a Canadian expat living in Frankfurt. I am pregnant and i would like to understand how to apply in writting to the Elterngeld. Should I just send my request via email….any supporting documents? What exactly should be writted in that email?
    Kindly advise. Thank you

    • Hi Denise,

      Thanks for reaching out. Your local Elterngeldstelle (part of the town’s Jugendamt) has application forms to download, as well as the list of supporting documents to send. Unfortunately, the request cannot be done by email but by post, and the forms and documents are all in German, and unavailable in English.

      We offer the service for a fee to support you in enquiring for Elterngeld and filling in the forms, as well as preparing the supporting documents. If you would like a quote, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email: Elodie.roux@maternita.de

      All the best
      Elodie

  2. Hello, I have a baby and receiving the 12 month Elterngeld. My questions:
    1) To confirm, if I took a job less than 30 hours a month I can still receive the elterngeld money?
    2) If I were pregnant again within the period and was unable to return to work, would I be able to apply directly again for the next child with results based on my previous salary? (e.g. have another 12 months following the first 12 months) OR would the elterngeld stop after 12 months with me receiving nothing after that period?

    • Hi,
      Thanks for your comment.
      1) Yes but the Elterngeld amount will be reduced accordingly (because you will be earning a salary and Elterngeld is an earning replacement)
      2) The Elterngeld for the second child will be based on your earnings 12 months prior to the birth of the second child (if employed) or based on the financial year prior to the birth of the second child (if self-employed). As Elterngeld does not count as “earnings”, if you have not had any income apart from the Elterngeld during the calculation period for your second child, then the calculation basis will be 0€ and you will receive the minimum Elterngeld of 300€.

  3. Hi Roux,

    I am an Indian citizen and studing Masters in Germany in Stuttgart. I am pregnant now and I would like to know if i am eligible for Elterngeld or Kindergeld.

    Thankyou
    Safnaz

    • Hi Safnaz,
      It depends on your residency permit, some do not allow to claim Elterngeld. Kindergeld on the other hand should be fine (depending on some circumstances like at least one parent living in Germany, and not claiming child benefit anywhere etc).
      As with every situation, difficult to say without knowing exactly your circumstances. We offer skype consultations for clients outside of Berlin, maybe you could benefit from one to clarify these questions for sure?
      All the best
      Elodie

  4. Hi,

    I’m considering taking one month of Elternzeit directly after the birth of my baby, and then another month later during the first year. Is it possible to claim Elterngeld for these two months? Or do the two months have to be consecutive in order to claim Elterngeld?

    Best,
    Josh

  5. Hello

    My wife and I are employed in India, but in Germany on an expatriate posting for nearly 4 years now. We have just been blessed with twins, and my wife is currently on maternity leave.

    Under extant Indian laws, she continues to receive the component of her salary that she would have received had she been in India, but does nit receive the expat benefits at the moment. Can she apply for Elterngeld?

    • Hi and congratulations!
      Depending on your wife’s residence permit, she can apply for Elterngeld. However, the amount of Elterngeld will be reduced according to what she keeps earning. And the Elterngeld amount will be calculated based on the income earned within the 12 months before the baby’s birth – and only the income taxable in Germany counts. In most cases, your wife could apply for 600€ (as you have twins) per month for 12 months. If you need further help with your application, just send us an email: Elodie.roux@maternita.de

  6. Hallo
    I’m living in Germany the moment I give birth to my son but I don’t have a job,now he’s 21 months old and I just get information about elterngeld .
    Do I still have rights to apply?

    Thank you
    Gladys

    • Hi Gladys,

      Unfortunately not. The latest you could have applied was before your son turned 18 months old. I’m sorry.

      Best,
      Elodie

  7. Hey , I wanted to know that if I am qualified to get Elterngeld if i have worked for 9 months and then discontinued?

    • Hi,

      Your eligibility for Elterngeld depends on a lot of factors so its difficult to say that you will qualify without knowing your situation. However, I can say that the length of time parents have worked before their baby was born is not a criteria for eligibility. So you will not be penalized for discontinuing your employment.

      I really advise you to get in touch to get a more detailed consultation about your eligibility rights. Feel free to get in touch on Elodie.roux@maternita.de

      All the best
      Elodie

  8. Hi, I’ve been hearing that it is taking up to 4 months to get the Elterngeld paid out. I’m single and have no partner with income. 4 months is a long time to wait for this benefit. Anything I can do to make it go quicker?

    • Hi,
      To speed up the processing of your application, you should try and have all the supporting documents sent in right the first time, with the correct translations where required etc. And once you have sent your application, you can always follow up with an email saying how urgent it is, or even drop off the paperwork directly at the Elterngeldstelle in person.
      All the best,
      Elodie

  9. Hi,

    I am from India and working in Berlin for almost 2 years now with the Blue Card. The Blue Card is valid for 2 more years. My question is:-

    1). Am I eligible for Elterngeld.
    2). Also are both the parents eligible for Elterngeld?
    2). And when is the right time to apply for Elterngeld?

    • Hi,
      Elterngeld eligibility depends on a lot of criteria so it is difficult to answer correctly without knowing your situation. But typically a clue card is a valid resident permit allowing for Elterngeld eligibility. Each parent need to have their eligibility checked individually. You can apply for Elterngeld once the baby is born, and it should be if possible applied for max. 3 months after the baby’s birth, otherwise you may loose some benefits.
      If you need some support filling out the application, please let us know, we can assist you with this.
      Elodie

  10. Hello I’m going out on mutterschutz in April. I am
    An American working for a German company do I get treated as the Germans do. It’s contract work. My company told me they won’t renew my contract due to me having the baby in May & that’s the renewal time. Am I eligible for Elterngeld still?

    • Hello,
      I will answer your questions inline:
      – do I get treated as the Germans do: if you have a valid residence permit then yes, for as long as your permit is valid
      – Am I eligible for Elterngeld still?: your contract ending does not mean you are no longer entitled to Elterngeld. These are other criteria so I cannot say for sure you will be eligible without knowing your specific situation, but having a work contract is not a requirement.
      If you need further assistance, we offer individual consultations about this topic, feel free to get in touch.
      Elodie

  11. My husband is the one working ,but I am not working at the moment, can I as the wife still recieve the elterngeld?

    • Hi, houseparents are also eligible for Elterngeld (then the minimum amount) if they fulfill the other requirements.

  12. Hi

    I am an Indian national, living in Germany with my husband and expecting our first child in few months. I want to know that the list of documents asked for Elterngeld includes Confirmation letter from your home country that there are no relevant benefits being paid. how and where can we get it because we never heard of something like this in our country and is this document mandatory?

    • This document is only mandatory for some countries, not for Indian nationals.
      All the best
      Elodie

  13. Hello, I received elterngeld this month but I relocated back to the U.S last month. I submitted an application along with my deregistration document to discontinue family allowance. I noticed that kindergeld was discontinued. My husband earned his last salary in Germany at the end of March. I am trying to understand why my elterngeld is still being paid and how can I stop it. Thanks

  14. Hello,
    I am working in Germany from last 5 years in IT sector.
    for my first child I got eletrngeld for 1 year.
    From last 2 years, I am working on Contract Basis,
    Now I am thinking for second child,
    so my question is,
    Still I am eligible for apply eleterngeld for my second child?

  15. Hi, I am working 20 hours per week currently. I would like to know how much eltern geld will I get. And if I decide to work after 6 months of giving birth again, for 20 hours per week, will I get the eltern geld for next 6 months as well?

  16. Hello, I am currently employed and working in Germany for a year. I plan to fly to India for my delivery alone. Will I still be able to claim Elterngeld for all 12 months ?

  17. Hi, My wife is pregnant with 4 month now and she is non working(Hause Wife)

    Please suggest what benefits as Eltern she can get and I am working as Engineer (Blue card Holder)more than 3 years in Germany.

    What benefit I will get as parent.

    I appreciate your response.

    Br
    ROOMAN KHAN

  18. Hello,
    I have been working for over 6 years in Germany. Currently being on the Mutterschutz. Since my husband is on the contract abroad I joined him to deliver baby abroad.
    Am I eligible for the Elterngeld if baby is being born abroad (not EU) but I am still registered in Germany since I’m coming back to my work after maternity leave? Do I need to personally be in Germany to apply for Elterngeld or it is ok to do it from abroad?

    Thank you in advance for feedback!
    Best regards
    Jo

    • Hi Jo, yes under those circumstances and pending you submit the right documents and follow the right procedure, you will be eligible for Elterngeld. If you need more information, we provide invdividual assistance for the Elterngeld applications. Just contact us!
      All the best, Elodie

  19. Hi do I apply for Elterngeld Plus as well as Elterngeld? Do I get more money that way?

    • Hi, on the application you have the choice between both. You can mix them up (switch between Elterngeld Basic and Plus) but you cannot have both at the same time. We offer group workshops as well as individual consultations. Let us know if you would like to schedule something so we can help you in your specific case. All the best, Elodie

  20. Hello,

    I was planning to have my baby in my country, but today my boss told me that if I do so I can not apply for the Elterngeld. I have been working in Germany for almost 2 years and I will keep Germany as my main residence. Is it possible to deliver the baby in another European country, but not in Germany and still get the Elterngeld?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hello, you can have the baby in another country and still claim Elterngeld, as long as you register the baby in Germany after birth. If you need any further assistance with your application, please don’t hesitate to contact us: elodie@maternita.de
      All the best
      Elodie

  21. Hello,
    I have two questions:
    1. If I am unemployed and my husband earns about 2500 net per month, is the 65% calculated from our joint income as a family? Or is it that only one of us can get the Elterngeld and then it’s calculated in regards to that person’s income?
    2. If my husband reduces his work hours under 30, will he get the same amount of money regardless of how many hours he would work? can he choose how many hours he wants to work or is it the employer?
    3. If I decide to work during this time, will my earnings be deducted from the Elterngeld sum or eliminate it?
    4. Are parents getting the Elterngeld and Kindergeld at the same time in the first year?

    Thank you so much!
    S

    • Hello,
      Thats a lot of questions so lets see
      1. Each parent’s Elterngeld is caulcated based on their own income
      2. What your husband earns whilst claiming EG will determine how much EG he gets
      3. It depends how much EG you get but as per 3, it will probably have an impact on the amount of your EG
      4. You can claim both Kindergeld and Elterngeld yes, but Kindergeld is only paid to one parent

      If you need further assistance, we offer individual consultations to answer this type of questions. Dont hesitate to get in touch
      Elodie

  22. Hi,
    My husband is on bluecard and I am an housewife( I am eligible to work there). I travelled to India for my delivery and will be joining back my husband once the baby is 6 months old. I am still registered in Germany where as my child is not. She will be registered in Germany in November(she will be 6 months old then). Can we apply for elterngeld now or only after I join my husband?

    • Hi Archana, you can apply for Elterngeld as soon as your baby is registered in Germany. This is a pre-requisite for applying.
      If you need assistance with your application, feel free to send me an email: Elodie.roux@maternita.de
      All the best
      Elodie

  23. I I am Indian Citizen and I am working in Germany since 15 April 2019. I am registered in the my city burgeamt. I have unlimited work contract to work and live in Germany. I have applied for blue card and the application is in process.

    My wife is still in India and could not travel to Germany as she is pregnant and we are expecting a kid in next few weeks. I am going to take two months unpaid paternity leave to be there along with my wife in India.

    Am i eligible to get elterngeld ?

    • Hi Ramesh
      You will be eligible to apply for Elterngeld as soon as you live in the same household as your baby, meaning as soon as the baby is registered in Germany. This is a pre-requisite for applying for Elterngeld. If you need assistance with your application, don’t hesitate to send me an email: Elodie.roux@maternita.de
      All the best
      Elodie

  24. Hi there,

    I have worked in Germany for 6 years. My baby is due in October. My work contract ends on 31st March 2020. Will be elterngeld be stopped on 31st March 2020 or does it continue for a full year (if I so choose to take it?)

    Thanks
    Jemima

    • Hi Jemima, your Elterngeld will not end with your contract no, it can run for 12 months if you fulfill the other criteria. All the best, Elodie

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