Childcare allowance (Kinderbetreuungsgeld) is a cash benefits for parents of infants. Depending on the chosen option, it may be claimed up to the child's third birthday.
Mothers and fathers (including adoptive and foster parents) receive this allowance provided if they also are entitled to family allowance (Familienbeihilfe) for the child in question, they share a common household and the usual residence with the child, and their centre of vital interest is in Austria. Special rules apply to cross-border cases within the European Union.
Non-Austrian nationals need to meet certain criteria under the right of settlement and residence.
- As of January 2010 claimants may choose between two schemes (offering a total of five options):
Flat-rate childcare allowance (four options) both recognises and remunerates in part the commitment and work involved for parents in caring for small children. Parents may claim these flat-rate allowances irrespective of whether they were economically employed prior to the birth of the child or not.
- Income-related childcare allowance is primarily designed to give better earning parents – who want to withdraw from the labour market for a limited period of time only – the opportunity of receiving some compensation for the earnings foregone during that period.
A parent must generally choose the scheme and/or option when filing the initial application for childcare allowance. Once made, this choice will also apply to the other parent. This signifies that parents need to agree on the option to be chosen.
Possibility to swap claim roles:
No matter which option is chosen, parents may swap claim roles twice. This may result in no more than three alternating claim periods, with one such period lasting no less than two months. It is not possible for both parents to claim childcare allowance simultaneously, neither for one child nor for more children (siblings).
Allowance claimed for youngest child:
Childcare allowance is always awarded for the youngest child. If another child is born, while a parent receives childcare allowance, payout for the older child will end with the birth of the younger child. Mothers who are again entitled to maternity allowance (Wochengeld) will have their childcare allowance in the amount of the maternity allowance, whereas a claiming father may continue to draw childcare allowance when his spouse or partner starts claiming maternity allowance before the birth of the next child.
While on childcare allowance, the claiming parent and the child are covered by health-insurance.
Flat-rate childcare allowance
As of 1 January 2010 there are four options for drawing flat-rate allowance.
Option 30+6: roughly 436 € per month
Option 20+4: roughly 624 € per month
Option 15+3: roughly 800 € per month
Option 12+2: roughly 1,000 € per month
Depending on the chosen option, one parent may claim childcare allowance till the 30th, 20th, 15th or 12th month of the child. If parents alternate drawing childcare allowance, these periods will be extended in accordance with the option chosen. Any months not claimed by the other parent cannot be transferred to the claiming parent.
Eligibility is not subject to economic activity prior to the child’s birth.
While on flat-rate childcare allowance, a parent may additionally earn up to 60 percent of the income last earned in the calendar year prior to the child‘s birth, in which no childcare allowance was claimed, restricted to the third year prior to the Child's birth (applicable to births occurring on or after 1 January 2012), or at least up to 16,200 € a year. If childcare allowance was claimed in each of these three years, the relevant year is the third year prior to the Child's birth (e.g. Birth in 2014, childcare allowance claimed in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013: the relevant year is 2011).
A parent may waive in advance his or her right to draw childcare allowance for a certain period of time. Any income earned during that period will not be counted towards this exemption limit.
In the case of multiple births, childcare allowance will be raised by a supplement of 50 percent of the chosen flat-rate option for every other child born.
Supplement in addition to flat-rate childcare allowance
Parents and single parents on low income may apply for an additional supplement of around 180 € per month for children born on or after 1 January 2010. This supplement is granted for no more than twelve calendar months following application.
In such a case, single parents may not earn more than an additional 6,400 € (2014) in this calendar year.
If a parent is married or cohabits with a partner, the claiming parent may not earn more than 6,400 € (2014) and the other parent/partner no more than 16,200 € in the calendar year. If these income limits are exceeded, the supplement will be claimed back by the social health insurance institution.
Income-related childcare allowance
Income-related childcare allowance may be claimed up to the 12th month of the child. If parents want to share the claim the allowance may be claimed up to the 14th month of the child.
Alongside general criteria, eligibility requirements also include six months of insurable work in Austria prior to the birth of the child. Periods of maternity allowance and parental leave (up to the child’s second birthday) are considered to be equivalent to such work, provided there had been six months of insurable work in Austria prior to the period and the employment hasn't been terminated during that period. Also periods of temporary-help (Betriebshilfe) or maternity allowance for the self-employed are considered to be equivalent to such work.
Income-related childcare allowance amounts to 80 percent of maternity allowance paid in Austria or of fictitious maternity allowance (calculated on the basis of income earned in Austria). Additional calculations automatically performed by the social health insurance institution and based on the formal tax assessment of income last earned in Austria in the calendar year prior the child’s birth, in which no childcare allowance was claimed, restricted to the third year prior to the Child's bith, may result in an increase of the daily rate but not in a reduction of this rate (most favourable rate approach).
Attention! There is no minimum amount. If the final calculation gives a daily rate of under 33 € (= under 1,000 € per month), claimants may change over to the flat-rate option 12 + 2 of 1,000 € per month.
Neither the additional supplement for childcare allowance nor the multiples’ supplement may be claimed under income-related childcare allowance!
Under the income-related allowance scheme parents may only earn an additional 6,400 € (2014) in the calendar year in question (which would correspond to the marginal earnings threshold). Also, they may not claim any unemployment insurance benefits.
Common rules for all five options
Mother-child- pass- scheme (Mutter-Kind-Pass-Untersuchungsprogramm)
Five health check-ups of mothers-to-be and five check-ups of the infants are required to qualify for the full amount of childcare allowance.
Otherwise allowance will be halved as of
- the 25th month of the child (for option 30+6)
- the 17th month of the child (for option 20+4)
- the 13th month of the child (for option 15+3)
- the 10th month of the child (for option 12+2)
If parents claiming the income-related allowance fail to have the required number of check-ups, the daily rate will be reduced by 16.50 € as of the 10th month of the child (roughly 500 € per month).
Assistance to single parents in the case of hardship
In special cases of hardship single parents may extend by another two months the maximum period of benefit entitlement of one parent under the chosen option if
- the other parent is prevented by any specific event from sharing the common household and thus from claiming childcare allowance (death, committal to mental hospital or nursing home, cases of domestic violence identified by courts or public authorities, stay in women’s refuge, imprisonment), or
- one parent has been single for at least four months at the time of period extension, has filed an application for maintenance (but still doesn't receive alimony) and earns no more than 1,200 € net over a specific period of time (plus 300 € for every dependant person in the household).