lost job and how long can i use healthcare

Dear Friends,
I will potentially lost job in Germany as a result of company restructure.  I am a residence of Germany, but not a citizen. I am a Canadian citizen.  I understood that i can get unemployment benefit for about 6 months to 1 year and also healthcare coverage during this period, but what happens after that if I am still not able to find a job. Can someone advise on this?

I have to say that I have no personal experience with unemployment or getting any kind of benefits. The following advice is correct to the best of my knowledge but honestly beyond my scope of expertise of a very very detailed and complex subject and there are special rules for foreigners. I skimmed through the links below but to give a better overview is like trying to sum up a 500 page book on quantum physics into a few paragraphs for beginners.

The following websites gives comprehensive information about the subject (all German only):


https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/arbeitslo … -vermoegen

A link from the previous site that is very relevant:
https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/datei/Mer … 015397.pdf

If one still has a limited residency (befrisitete Aufenhaltserlaubnis) and cannot support themselves then it won’t get renewed and they will likely have to leave the country. If they have an unlimited residency (unbefrisitete Aufenhaltserlaubnis) or settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) then they can stay.

When initial unemployment benefits known as Arbeitslosengeld 1 run out then there is the option to apply for social help in the form of Hertz 4 AKA Arbeitslosengeld 2. But this only applies if one is nearly destitute. The current cut off point is if one has over 150 Euros per year of their age (ex. a 30 year old calculates to 4500 Euros) of financial assets then they don’t qualify. One would have to pay their living costs out of pocket until they have depleted their resources to the level they do qualify.

What isn’t counted is one’s home. So for example, if owns a medium sized apartment worth 200,000 Euros but only has 2000 in savings then then they could likely qualify for Hartz 4. But if they have say a small apartment worth 100,000 Euros and 102,000 Euros in financial assets then they would not qualify. But property has to be considered “appropriate”. Not exactly sure how they calculate this but I imagine they look at the size of a family and local property values of where they live. The upshot is that if one had a huge luxury apartment or house worth a million Euros or more, then they would not qualify no matter what their liquid assets were. 

As far as healthcare is concerned, you HAVE to be covered. Either any benefits will cover this or you have to pay out of pocket. To not be insured will violate your conditions of residency and eventually they will come and simply take the money from you that they calculate you should have paid. Even one with a settlement permit could eventually have it annulled and be deported on this basis. It might not apply to your situation but one should also be aware that if they otherwise qualify and want to apply for German citizenship; it is not allowed if one is getting Hartz 4.

What I would strongly suggest is that you go to the Employment office (Arbeitsamt) and get an appointment and have them tell you the details. Even if someone else here shares their experience, the chance that your situation matches theirs in critical details is about zero; there are just too many details involved.

To add to Tom's good post above:
Most non-EU citizens (and also many EU ones) are ineligible for any "non-earned" financial assistance like Hartz IV or similar. Basically, unless you have an unlimited "Niederlassungserlaubnis, you will have to return to your home country if you cannot pay for your living expenses any more.
That said, youur original question is about unemployment benefits and health insurance:
- As long as you have a valid residence visa that allows work, and contributed to the unemployment insurance for at least 12 months before, you are eligible for unemployment benefits. You get 60% (with children 67%) of your previous (after-tax) pay for up to 12 months.
- As long as you get unemployment benefits (or Hartz IV, for that matter), your health insurance premiums will be paid. After that, you must pay them from your own pocket (as it is compulsory to be insured here). Depending on your world income (incl. passive earnings), this will be €170-750/month.

The buerocracy for all this can be difficult to manouvre, so get professional help (some charities offer this even for free!).

Thanks Tom and beppi. it is very useful information. Looks that I have to pay the health insurance after taking unemployment in Germany. Compared with Canadian healthcare, I have to pay much more in German healthcare, of course, i will get more coverage. that is why i am thinking whether i should stay in Germany or back to Canada if I can not find a new job or do not want to work as I am close to 60. I have been paying German social security for more than 12 years. But seems that before i retire, i have to pay the healthcare insurance until retirement.

After such a long stay, you might be eligible for social security (Hartz IV), which would also cover your health insurance (but is means-tested and pretty low anyway).
If not, you must pay the premiums from your own pocket.

I guess everyone has to decide their own way. And I have to admit that at your age, finding a new job in Germany is very difficult. The Arbeitsamt has a special division for assisting people 50+ because of this. But it might be worth a look. One might have to be creative and looks for something with related skills but not necessarily in the same field. Or some people might find a completely new opportunity say having to do with a hobby or interest. It could be an actual opportunity to find something paying a livable wage but with a laid back atmosphere and little stress rather than a high-stress professional job paying more. Many look to a better life-work balance as they get older since it is not all about money. And your profile mentions living in Hamburg. A city of that size and diversity should offer a lot more possibilities one wouldn't find in most municipalities.

But I would think twice about deciding to go elsewhere just because of the health care. Cool if Canada’s system has advantages but Germany’s system is one of the better ones in the world. And since you mention paying into the German system so long, I would assume you have gotten Niederlassungserlaubnis in the meantime and would not be facing deportation in any case.

Like I said, before making any drastic decision, talk to the Arbeitsamt and get the details directly from them. I don’t know that one should even go into detail about their personal finances here but the considerations for getting Hartz 4 are complex. Like mentioned, one could have a decent amount of assets invested in their home and still qualify. When they look at financial assets, then certain retirement funds are also exempt. One could actually be pretty well off for the future and still get such benefits depending on what form their assets are in.

thanks Tom and beppi again.  these are all valuable information you provided. Actually, i am balancing pros and cons to stay in Germany or Canada. Canadian state health care does not cover dental and outpatient medicine while German health care cover basic dental and medicine which are something i like very much.  I paid about 100 CND per month for the health care in the past and  I paid much more health care in Germany. I don't know if i was unemployed, how much i should pay for German public healthcare. I guess it should not be same amount as i paid during my working time before. I don't know how to calculate. As you said it might be complicated. Besides, seems that Germany has better pension as well. Canadian pension caps in certain amount and in general not much you can get no matter how much you make before retire . Both factors prompt me to think to stay in Germany. I still have 6 years to the retirement. I might have to pay  for these years . if the healthcare cost not too much, i can accept, e.g. less than 200 euro per month. yes, it is hard decision to make.

I forgot to mention that I have blue card, but have never applied for a permernent resident permit as i have never thought i will stay in Germany until recently i found that there are advantages to stay in Germany  ranter than in Canada. I also did not really learn German as i am working in a international German company that every one speaks English at work place. I guess, if i want to stay in Germany, I definitely will learn German and would like to learn it.  I have to admit that in the past, everything was taken care by our company, therefore, i did not know many details about the pension and healthcare. Now i start to get into there with all your help. Thanks again.

I cannot really help you with the non-financial issues, although I think they are rather more important than money.
How did you have any social life in all those years without German language? I cannot fathom that, unless you lived in an expat „bubble“.
But I can answer the question about health insurance cost when you don‘t work: Without an employer paying  half of the premium, you‘ll have to pay the full amount by yourself. If you are currently in the public scheme or have to change to it due to unemployment (which is probable until you turn 55 years of age), you pay about 18.5% of your world income (from all sources, not just salary, as when you‘re employed), subject to a minimum of about €170/month and a maximum of €750/month.
If you are in the private scheme and allowed to remain there (only possible under certain circumstances), you simply pay double of what you pay now.

that is going to be a lot from my own pocket. then I need to think about whether it is worth to stay in Germany as with this amount of money I can pay dental and even outpatient medicine in Canada. Good to know that. You mentioned social life, although i work for German company but not always stay in Germany as we have branches in different countries where i worked, that is one of reason i did not apply for  a permanent residence card and learn German.  Now when i look back, it is little bit pity that i did not do these things earlier that i should have done already. That is a nature of human being that always forgot something and then regret later.

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