NewsCoping with high heating costs: A one-off Hartz 4...

Coping with high heating costs: A one-off Hartz 4 permit is possible

Created: 09/21/2022, 12:29 p.m

High back payments due to the exploding heating costs are a horror, especially for low earners. But the job center can help.

Frankfurt – For many poor people, regardless of whether they are working or not, they are an annual bogeyman: the annual statements and back payments. A situation that has been exacerbated by the current energy crisis. But they don’t necessarily have to be.

Anyone who receives benefits from the job center or the social welfare office simply submits the annual accounts and the additional payments are usually taken over as accommodation costs. However, how can people act who, due to their income or pension, are just above the benefit limit for basic security? Even a single euro over the border means that those affected cannot receive any social benefits. For these low earners, additional payments trigger existential worries.

Symbolbild, Heizung, Politik will per Gesetz das Sparen verordnen
Recipients of social benefits and low-income earners could have problems with heating costs in winter. But there is the possibility that the costs will be covered by the job center (symbol image) © Imago

However, this does not have to be the case: Because the employment office can also approve the payment of benefits according to Hartz 4 for just one month – because the additional payment alone can already lead to a need for help, as lawyer Stefan Befort explains on his website. However, the right time has to be caught.

Coping with high heating costs with the help of the job center: the monthly principle applies

The most important factor in an approval of Hartz 4 due to a high back payment for heating costs is the month in which the bill flutters into the house and the income. Because the so-called “monthly principle” applies to the corresponding application: the month in which the application was submitted is always used as the basis for calculating need. If the ancillary costs become due during this period, the entitlement to basic security may arise and end at the end of the month.

If this time is missed, nothing is possible. If the application is approved, the need must be recognized at its actual level, as stated in Social Security Code 12, Paragraph 35.


Julia works as a temporary help in the catering trade and earns 1250 euros net. The rent from her apartment is 466 euros and she receives an allowance of 300 euros on her income. Rent and standard needs (449 euros) together amount to 915 euros. This is 35 euros above the benefit limit (1250 euros income minus 300 euros allowance minus 915 euros).

Now, in October, a back payment for heating costs of 480 euros ends up in her mailbox. She submits an application to the job center in the month it is due. This then covers 445 euros of the costs (480 euros invoice, minus the 35 euros above the performance limit).

The job center assumes the heating costs: Homeowners can also apply for help

This does not only apply to people who have not yet received any benefits and are renting: pensioners can also apply for basic security in this way. And also homeowners: In a judgment from 2019, the Federal Social Court decided that the job center must also pay for the costs of purchasing heating equipment for a home if this should result in need.

At that time, the court decided that the month in which the application was submitted is the decisive period for the calculation and that the heating costs may not be redistributed over the entire twelve months.

High heating costs: Payments also possible for the “middle class”.

Harald Thomé, consultant at the Tacheles self-help association in Wuppertal, explained to the taz that high one-off additional payments due to rising energy prices can also trigger an entitlement to Hartz 4 benefits in households outside the poverty line for the month in which they are due. Job centers are obliged to cover rental and heating costs, and this also includes additional payments for heating costs. (con)

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