Social Services Office

Assistance for people on low income

Government-guaranteed and non-statutory benefits granted by Esslingen Council for people in need.

People who struggle to earn a living and participate in social activities on account of their low income are eligible for a range of benefits depending on their circumstances. The aim is to mitigate or remedy their financial problems. We offer assistance with filling in the relevant forms and forward applications to the authorities responsible if we are not able to process them ourselves.

Please note that when you click on a link you will be directed to a page written in German.

Government-guaranteed benefits

Housing allowance (Wohngeld)

Housing allowance is a state subsidy for accommodation.

This subsidy is available in the following forms:

  • Rent subsidy (Mietzuschuss) for tenants of an apartment or room
  • Hardship subsidy (Lastenzuschuss) for owners of a house or apartment

It is irrelevant for payment of the subsidy whether the accommodation is in an old or modern building and whether it receives public funding or tax breaks or is privately financed.

As a prerequisite for receiving a rent or hardship subsidy, the owner or tenant must live in the property and be responsible for paying the rent or homeowner’s expenses.

Eligibility for housing allowance and the amount payable depends on three factors:

  • the number of family members belonging to your household
  • the income of the family members belonging to your household
  • the amount of the rent or homeowner’s expenses qualifying for a subsidy

Housing allowance is only payable for reasonable accommodation expenses. The rent or homeowner’s expenses can therefore only be subsidized up to a certain maximum amount.
You are not eligible for housing allowance if you already receive various welfare benefits (jobseeker’s allowance, income support for the elderly and people with reduced earning capacity, social security benefits, etc.), as in this case the rental costs have already been taken into consideration.

Social Housing Eligibility Certificate (Wohnberechtigungsschein)

Housing associations offering state-subsidized accommodation require their tenants to provide evidence of having a low income in the form of a Social Housing Eligibility Certificate.

The “General Social Housing Eligibility Certificate” (Allgemeiner Wohnberechtigungsschein) is needed in order to take up occupancy of state-subsidized social housing. You will be required to present the certificate to the landlord when you move into the property. The certificate can be obtained from your local council and is valid throughout Germany. It covers all members of your household.

The Social Housing Eligibility Certificate merely enables you to enter into a rental agreement. It does not automatically entitle you to social housing.

Department responsible:

  • the local council authorities in your habitual place of residence.
  • If your habitual place of residence is not in Baden-Württemberg, please contact the local council authorities in the place where you want to live.

Eligibility criteria:

  • You are looking for accommodation
  • You and the members of your household do not exceed the relevant income threshold.

Application procedure:

Applications for Social Housing Eligibility Certificates should be submitted to the local council authorities responsible. Please use the official form provided by the council. Some local councils make the application form available for downloading from their website.

Tip: It is advisable to apply for the Social Housing Eligibility Certificate in person. That way you can find out on the spot what documents are required in your particular case.

Required documents:

The documents required vary from case to case but generally include the following:

  • ID card
  • Proof of income for all persons wishing to take up occupancy
  • Payslip(s) including proof of special payments                                                  
  • Latest income tax return
  • Self-employed: latest net income account

You will not be charged any fees.



The Pension Office (Rentenstelle) offers you services at a local level in addition to those provided by the German Pension Insurance Organization (Deutsche Rentenversicherung).
In particular, the services available from the Pension Office include the following:

  • Information and advice on the statutory pension scheme and other areas of social security
  • Acceptance and forwarding of all pension applications – including submissions by foreign applicants 
  • Applications for clarification of pension entitlement taking into account periods spent abroad in vocational training and employment
  • Applications for child-raising periods to be taken into account


For personal advice or to file an application, please arrange an appointment beforehand –

either over the phone or in person. We will then let you know what documents you need to bring with you.

Social security (Sozialhilfe)

These benefits are intended to safeguard your livelihood, but also assist you in earning your own living independently of the state. People claiming benefits must do everything in their power to support themselves.

Personal income and assets, other benefits and the financial situation of persons with maintenance obligations towards the claimant are taken into account when verifying entitlement to benefits.

If you are eligible for social security, you are also entitled to advisory services.
Social security benefits include the following:

  • Subsistence support
  • Basic income support for the elderly and people with reduced earning capacity
  • Community integration support for the disabled
  • Care home subsidy
  • Care support benefit
  • Disability benefit for the blind
  • Payment of funeral expenses

Subsistence support (Hilfe zum Lebensunterhalt) is paid to persons/families who are not capable of sustaining an adequate livelihood from their own income or assets and are temporarily unable to work (e.g. single parents).

If you are capable of working for at least 3 hours a day, you should apply for jobseeker’s allowance; in the case of long-term incapacity for work, you may be eligible for basic income support for the elderly or people with reduced earning capacity.

Subsistence support covers the following:

  • The standard rate of social security benefit
  • Reasonable actual costs of housing and heating
  • Additional expenses for holders of a severe disability pass (Schwerbehindertenausweis) (Category G) and people with a certified illness or costly dietary requirements.
  • One-off payments in special circumstances (e.g. initial furnishing of an apartment)
  • Health and nursing care insurance contributions

Community integration support (Eingliederungshilfe) (financial and material support or personal assistance) is granted to people who have a significant long-term disability of a physical, mental or psychological nature or are at risk of developing a disability of this kind. The aim is to alleviate the consequences of the disability and facilitate integration into the community.

The following services are provided: 

  • Accommodation (e.g. sheltered housing, care home accommodation)
  • Employment (e.g. in workshops for the disabled)
  • Family support services
  • Support for disabled children in child daycare centers or schools
  • Assistance with vocational training or studies and provision of technical aids.

You may be eligible for a care home subsidy (Heimkostenzuschuss) if the nursing care insurance payments, your own funds and those of the persons under a legal obligation to support you are insufficient. In order to qualify, you must be in need of a care home place on medical grounds.

Care support benefit (Hilfe zur Pflege) supplements the statutory nursing care insurance scheme. It is only granted for services not covered by the statutory nursing care insurance scheme. For persons not insured under the statutory nursing care insurance scheme, the state pays for services normally covered by the scheme (e.g. care support depending on the level of care dependency).

Disability benefit for the blind (Blindenhilfe) is intended for people who are blind or have severely impaired eyesight. These people are severely handicapped in their everyday lives and have a wide range of additional costs to bear. Therefore, irrespective of their income, they are entitled to a flat-rate monthly disability benefit for the blind, which is adjusted on an annual basis. In addition, there is a means-tested disability benefit for the blind.

Payment of funeral expenses
In Germany, there is a legal obligation to bury or cremate deceased persons. The relatives of the deceased person are responsible for paying the funeral expenses (in the order set out in the statutory intestacy rules). Any costs incurred can be claimed back from the heirs and other persons liable for payment.

Depending on income and assets, the funeral costs may be borne by the Social Welfare Office (Amt für Sozialwesen). Fixed maximum amounts apply for the individual components of the funeral. Costs in excess of these limits cannot be covered. If the deceased person had been receiving social security, please apply to this Social Welfare Office. If the deceased person had not been receiving social security, the Social Welfare Office in the place of death is responsible.

The funding agency for all social security benefits is the Social Welfare Office of the District Administration of Esslingen (Amt für Sozialwesen, Landratsamt Esslingen). Your local Social Services Office (Bürgerservice Soziales) run by Esslingen Council offers assistance with filing applications and forwards them to the authorities responsible.

Landratsamt Esslingen
Pulverwiesen 11
73726 Esslingen
Phone (07 11) 39 02-0

Basic income support (Grundsicherung) for the elderly and people with reduced earning capacity

The Job Center is responsible for the payment of basic income support.

Jobcenter Landkreis Esslingen
Uhlandstr. 1
73734 Esslingen am Neckar
Phone (01 80) 1 00 25 47 50-9 41

The following persons are eligible:

  • Elderly people who have reached the statutory retirement age.
  • Adults with fully reduced earning capacity on a long-term basis, meaning that they cannot work for more than 3 hours a day and have a doctor’s certificate to prove it.

These two groups of people only qualify for assistance if they are unable to support themselves from their own income and assets.

Basic income support (covering basic requirements) includes the following:

  • The standard rate of social security benefit
  • Reasonable actual costs of housing and heating
  • Additional requirements
    • if the claimant has a certified illness involving costly dietary requirements
    • if the claimant is the holder of a severe disability pass (Schwerbehindertenausweis) (Category G)
  • One-off payments in special circumstances (e.g. initial furnishing of an apartment)
  • Health and nursing care insurance contributions

Basic income support is also payable for people living in a nursing or care home.

Eligible persons may qualify for income support in addition to their pension or other sources of income.

Important note: Children or parents with an annual income of less than € 100,000.- are not under a legal obligation to pay maintenance for their relatives.

Jobseeker’s allowance (Grundsicherung für Arbeitssuchende)

Since 01.01.2005, the former unemployment benefit and social security benefit for employable persons have been merged into a single, uniform benefit:
basic income support for employable persons, jobseekers and employed persons on low incomes (Grundsicherung für Erwerbsfähige, Arbeitssuchende und Erwerbstätige mit niedrigem Einkommen)

To qualify for basic income support, you must be an employable person in need of extra support, aged between 15 and 65. Relatives living with you in a “community of dependence” (Bedarfsgemeinschaft), e.g. your partner, parents or children, are also eligible.

You are deemed employable if, for the foreseeable future, you will not be incapable of working for at least three hours a day under customary labor market conditions.

Jobseeker’s allowance includes both subsistence support and vocational integration measures.

Participation benefits (Leistungen zur Teilhabe)

In addition, there are various benefits available to assist people in participating in society. Please feel free to contact us for help in filing an application.

Education and Participation Package (Bildungs- und Teilhabepaket) funded by the German Federal Government

The authorities responsible are the Job Center (for families claiming unemployment benefit II – Arbeitslosengeld II) and the District Administration (Landratsamt) of Esslingen (for persons receiving other welfare benefits). We will be glad to assist you with filing an application. The following items are covered by the scheme:

  • School trips
  • Personal necessities for school
  • School transport not otherwise covered
  • Learning support / private tuition
  • Subsidies for meals served in schools and child daycare centers
  • Participation in social and cultural life (e.g. subsidies for sports club membership or music tuition)

State Family Pass (Landesfamilienpass)

The State Family Pass enables families to visit state-owned castles, gardens and museums in Baden-Württemberg free of charge or for a concessionary admission fee (coupons). You can take advantage of this offer for a total of 20 times per year.

Where are you entitled to free admission?

  • Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg)
  • Stuttgart State Gallery (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)
  • Archaeological State Museum in Constance (Archäologisches Landesmuseum Konstanz)
  • Technology Museum (Technomuseum) in Mannheim
  • Center for Art and Media Technology in Karlsruhe (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe – ZKM)

You can visit the “Wilhelma” (zoo) in Stuttgart and the “Blühende Barock” garden show in Ludwigsburg for a concessionary admission fee by presenting the corresponding coupons. At the “Wilhelma”, the concession applies during peak season from 1 March until 31 October. At the “Blühende Barock”, the concession is valid for the entire season from mid March until the beginning of November. The coupons have to be presented together with the State Family Pass on entry to the premises.

Who is entitled to use the Family Pass?

The following groups of people permanently resident in Baden-Württemberg are entitled to use the Family Pass:

  • Families with at least three children who are entitled to child benefit and share a joint household with their parents
  • Single parents with at least one child who is entitled to child benefit and shares a joint household with the parent
  • Families with one severely disabled child (with at least a 50% disability rating) who is entitled to child benefit
  • Families eligible for Hartz IV (unemployment benefit for the long-term unemployed) or for child subsidy (Kinderzuschlag) and sharing a household with two children who are entitled to child benefit

Important note

The State Family Pass is not dependent on income.

Application documents

  • ID card or passport
  • Proof of entitlement to child benefit (e.g. on payslip)
  • For disabled children: severe disability pass (Schwerbehindertenausweis)
  • In the case of Hartz IV or child subsidy: benefit payment statement

Town Pass (Stadtpass): social participation for children and teenagers

Families on low incomes below the stipulated income threshold who do not qualify for unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II), income support (Sozialgeld), social security (Sozialhilfe), child subsidy (Kinderzuschlag) or housing allowance (Wohngeld), can apply for a Town Pass. The Town Pass includes the following:

  • Membership and course fee subsidy for clubs and associations in Esslingen
  • Further training/education subsidy
  • Subsidy for meals served in child daycare centers and schools
  • Subsidy for school field trips as well as for recreational schemes and children’s vacation programs
  • School enrolment subsidy on starting elementary school and moving on to junior high school
  • Concessionary admission to Esslingen’s swimming baths
  • Concessionary fees for child nurseries (unless paid for by the Youth Welfare Services (Wirtschaftliche Jugendhilfe) and for child care at elementary school

Concessions available by application

  • Concessionary admission to Esslingen’s swimming baths
  • Subsidy for recreational schemes and children’s vacation programs
  • Concessionary fees for child nurseries (unless paid for by the Youth Welfare Services (Wirtschaftliche Jugendhilfe) and for child care at elementary school
  • Concessionary fees for music tuition at the Municipal Music School (Städtische Musikschule)

Families who qualify for unemployment benefit II, income support, social security, asylum seeker’s benefit, child subsidy or housing allowance are not eligible for a Town Pass, but can apply for the following concessions in addition to the benefits included in the Education and Participation Package:

Culture Pass (Kulturpass)

Your income is below the threshold stipulated by the local council or you receive unemployment benefit II, income support, social security, child subsidy or housing allowance?

If so, you are entitled to the Esslingen Culture Pass that offers you free or reduced admission to cultural events and concessionary tuition fees at the Municipal Music School (Städtische Musikschule) or the Adult Education Center (Volkshochschule).

What events are free of charge for Culture Pass holders?

In the case of each event, the town’s online event calendar shows whether there are tickets available for Culture Pass holders. In the Adult Education Center (Volkshochschule) program, free events are indicated by the Culture Pass logo.

pdf Flyer Kulturpass 2014.pdf (338 KB) 02-05-2014 338 KB
pdf Flyer Kulturpass türk.pdf (136 KB) 14-03-2013 136 KB

Further Information: Culture Pass