Germany’s Kinderbonus payout begins today: What you need to know

What is Germany’s bonus child allowance payments (Kinderbonus), how much is it and who is entitled to it?

Germany's Kinderbonus payout begins today: What you need to know
Germany's Kinderbonus will be paid from September 7th. Photo: DPA

Germany will start making child allowance bonus payments from Monday, September 7th. 

This will be paid in addition to the usual child allowance payments. 

When you receive the payment – and how much you receive – depends on a range of factors. Here’s what you need to know. 

How much is the ‘bonus’?

In June, Germany’s governing coalition decided to add a ‘bonus’ amount to the child allowance payments. 

This amount is set at €300 per child. Originally, €150 was to be paid in September and €150 in October. 

Instead, €200 will now be paid in September with the final €100 to be paid in October. 

The bonus is paid out automatically, meaning you will not need to ‘apply’.

In order to receive the bonus, the child must have received the benefit for at least one month in 2020. 

The money is provided tax free. Image: DPA/VLH

When will I receive the bonus? 

The money is being paid out from September 7th onwards – which means you may have received the amount already. 

Given that there are 18 million children in Germany, it is to be expected that the payments might take a while. 

When you actually receive the money will depend on your child benefit number. 

The first payments made on September 7th will be for people whose child benefit number ends in a zero. 

From there, digits one through to nine will be paid out gradually as September continues. 

The bonus is paid separately to the child benefit payment. 

READ: How Germany plans to increase child benefits and provide tax relief 

What do Germany’s parents plan to do with the bonus? 

A survey published by the Institute for the German Economy (IW) found that almost two thirds (61 percent) plan to spend the money completely or partially, while the remainder plan to save it. 

One quarter (24 percent) said they will spend the bonus in full. 

An estimated 2.4 billion of the total 4.3 billion paid out as part of the bonus will find its way back into the economy immediately. 

What parents plan to do with the money does however depend on their economic situation. 

Of those in the top income group, 45 percent plan to save the money in full, compared with 34 percent in the middle income group and 39 percent in the lowest income group. 

Who is entitled to the payments?

All parents in Germany are entitled to the payments, other than those in the highest-earning brackets. 

As reported in Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, this will depend on the number of children and the status of the parents. 

While eight out of ten families in Germany will be eligible for the allowance, married parents with an annual income of €86,000 and above will not be eligible to receive the bonus. 

For lower income families, the bonus will not be offset against Hartz IV or other maintenance payments – i.e. it will be paid on top. 

'Hey dad, what are we going to do with the money?' Image: DPA

How much is the standard child allowance payment? 

The child benefit is to rise to €219 per month on January 1st 2021 for the first and second child, to €225 per month for the third child, and to €250 from the fourth child onwards.

According to the bill, families will also receive tax relief. for example, the tax-free child allowance (Kinderfreibetrag) is to be raised by more than €500 to €8,388.

READ: What you need to know about Germany's child support payments 

In total, families would be relieved of around €12 billion per year, said Finance Minister Olaf Scholz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD).

“This is good news for all families and children in Germany,” he said when the announcement was made in July.

What are people saying about the bonus? 

Opinions of the bonus are varied, with some lauding it as an important support measure for families with positive consequences for the German economy, while others say it is insufficient in light of the pandemic. 

The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, told the Reinischer Post the payment was sensible.

“The child bonus is one of the smartest measures in the economic stimulus package. It helps quickly and relatively precisely the families who now need support in the crisis.”

Conversely, Sabine Zimmermann – chairwoman of the family committee in the Bundestag and member of left-wing party Die Linke – told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung “a one-time child bonus of €300 cannot nearly offset the burden of the pandemic for families”.

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Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?

A single vaccine dose has been shown to be largely ineffective against the Delta variant of Covid-19 - so German health experts are considering whether a shorter gap between the first and second dose is needed.

Should Germany shorten Covid vaccine intervals to combat Delta?
A sign directs people to the vaccination centre in Berlin's now-defunct Tegel Airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Soeren Stache

With the the proportion of Delta variant Covid cases rising in Germany, experts are currently mulling over a new strategy to combat it: shortening the intervals between the first and second dose of the vaccine.

The new approach is being considered in light of the fact that vaccinated people are likely to be protected highly infectious variant – but only if they have had all necessary doses of the vaccine. 

READ ALSO: Share of Delta variant Covid cases in Germany almost doubles in a week

“The question is not a trivial one,” Thomas Mertens, the head of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), told DPA.

According to the Ulm-based virologist, there are various pros and cons to shortening the gaps between doses.

“We are currently trying to secure the necessary evidence,” he added.

So far, Stiko has been recommending longer intervals between the two vaccinations than the intervals stipulated by regulators when the vaccines were approved. 

There are good reasons for this: with AstraZeneca, for example, evidence suggests that the longer you wait between vaccines, the better immunity you have.

With limited doses of vaccines available – and ongoing supply issues – there is also an argument for providing as many people as possible with the first dose, so that as many people as possible are at least partly protected against the virus.

READ ALSO: ‘Vaccinate quickly’: German states seeing surge in Delta variant Covid cases

For AstraZeneca, the previous advice from the panel of experts at Stiko is to allow twelve weeks to elapse between the first and second dose. For the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – the recommended interval is six weeks.

According to the pharmaceutical regulators, however, a faster course would be possible: two BioNTech doses three weeks apart, with Moderna and AstraZeneca given four weeks apart.

In the case of the AstraZeneca vector vaccine, according to the Health Ministry, those wishing to be vaccinated are free to agree the interval individually with doctors within the permitted period of four to twelve weeks.

“A certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccine”

Helge Braun (CDU), Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, told the Morgenmagazin on Thursday that the government’s main challenge was to offer all over-12s at the least one dose of the vaccine by the end of summer.

READ ALSO: ‘This can be a good summer’: Half of Germans vaccinated at least once against Covid

Regarding the timing of the second dose, the main concern should be effectiveness, he said.

“We just know that a certain distance improves the effectiveness of the vaccination,” he told reporters. 

When pressed on whether shortening the intervals between doses was the advice of the hour, Braun said it wasn’t.

On Twitter, German immunologist Carsten Watzl pointed out that, while cases of Delta were rising as a proportion of infections due to falling infection rates overall, the actual number of infections with Delta was still stable – and may even be declining. 

This means that the longer, 12-week interval for AstraZeneca vaccinations could be still be used as long as people were fully vaccinated by autumn, he said. 

The virologist Christian Drosten has been pointing out for a long time that the first jab is not particularly effective against Delta. 

This is also the view of Watzl, who would like to see the majority of people fully protected in time for a potential fourth wave of the virus. 

“The second vaccination is urgently needed in order to be able to properly ward off the mutations,” he said in a recent interview with the German Press Agency.

“Shortening the current vaccination intervals, especially of BioNTech, of course makes sense in order to achieve complete inoculation as quickly as possible,” said the chief executive of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, on Wednesday.

“The maximum vaccine interval for BioNTech is only justified by the lack of vaccines.”

In Germany, increased shares of the Delta variant, first discovered in India, are now being recorded.

However, the number of cases caused by the mutation has only increased relatively slightly so far, while the trend for infections caused by the still dominant Alpha variant is declining more sharply.

In the future, it is expected that Delta will overtake Alpha as the dominant variant of Covid-19 in Germany.