Social law governs protection for people who are financially unable to provide for themselves, due to unemployment, for example, illness or disability. It comprises the social security system such as health insurance, pension fund and long-term care insurance as well as unemployment benefits I and II (“Hartz IV”).
A large number of laws and regulations pertain to social law. Accordingly, in this area there is a huge wealth of information that is very complicated in part. The following pages provide an overview that is easy to understand and tips about where additional information can be found.
We recommend taking advantage of the legal advice counseling concerning social law at an AIDS service organization, as a large amount of personal factors play a role. Professional counselors can address those factors.
Unemployment benefits I
Unemployment benefits I (ALG I) are offered to those who
- are unemployed
- are registered at the Federal Employment Agency as unemployed
- have paid contributions at least 360 days in the last two years as a jobholder or who were required to pay contributions for other reasons (e.g. parental leave, military service or civilian service)
- have not yet reached the age limit for retirement
The amount received from ALG I is dependent upon the former salary. Unemployed people with children receive approximately 67 percent of their former net salary. If ALG I is less than ALG II (Hartz IV), then it is possible to apply for ALG II as a supplement; the unemployment benefits are then topped up to match the amount of ALG II.
The length of time that a person can draw on ALG I depends on the age of that person. People under the age of 50 receive benefits for a maximum of one year; older people for longer in some cases. The length of time the payments are made also depends upon how long a person made contributions to the unemployment insurance.
This is regulated by the German Social Code III (SGB III).
ALG II/ Hartz IV
This service is known as unemployment benefits II (ALG II), Hartz IV and minimum income for job seekers.
ALG II is received when ALG I runs out or if a person has no claim to ALG I. People in need who are between the ages of 15 and 65, and are capable of working have a right to claim ALG II.
ALG II is meant to cover the costs for necessities such as groceries and clothes. People who live alone currently receive a fixed rate of 359 euros in addition to the payment of “suitable” accommodations and heating costs.
In certain situations, it is possible to apply for additional benefits (greater need) that exceed the fixed rate, for example, if a specific diet is required due to illness. That may also be applicable in cases of HIV infection.
One-time payments are also possible for the initial furnishing of an apartment with furniture and appliances provided that these things are not already available.
ALG II is regulated by the German Social Code II (SGB II).
For more information, contact the Federal Employment Agency or Tacheles e.V.
Rules for cases of hardship with ALG II
Recipients of ALG II can have certain costs reimbursed that fall within the scope of the so-called rules for cases of hardship. These include, for example, the costs for over-the-counter medications, travel costs to see a doctor and household care for people in wheelchairs. You should have a doctor attest the need for the application. The certificate must impart that the requested measures are imperative and that the need is recurring i.e. not just a one-off.
The basis for this is a ruling from the Federal Constitutional Court that said the calculation of fixed rates for ALG II is unconstitutional. The old fixed rates will remain in effect until the federal government defines new ones. During this time, it is also possible to apply for “ongoing greater need.”
The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs has defined, together with the Federal Employment Agency, in which cases greater need should be granted. The list can serve as an orientation but it is not complete.
You’ll find more information on the rules for cases of hardship here.
You’ll find a sample application here.
Social allowance is provided for “people in need who are not able to work” (children under the age of 15, for example) if they live in a shared household with others in need. That would be the case if a single mother received ALG II, for instance. The amount of the social allowance is equal to the amount of ALG II.
Excluded from this rule are children who are eligible for public assistance due to other laws. This may be the case with children who are disabled, for instance.
The meaning of the term “public assistance” changed in 2005. What had once been known as public assistance was replaced with ALG II (Hartz IV). According to the new definition, only people who are temporarily incapable of working, people preparing to retire with a low pension, people with chronic illnesses and children in some cases are eligible for public assistance.
The amount of public assistance is equal to ALG II, i.e. 359 euros for people living alone in addition to the payments for suitable accommodations and heating costs.
In certain situations, it is also possible to apply for greater need benefits. You’ll find more information at www.sozialhilfe24.de.
Public assistance is regulated by the German Social Code (in SGB XII).
This section is about minimum income for the aged and long-term reduction in earning capacity. It should not be confused with AGL II (Hartz IV), which is sometimes called by the same name in German, “Grundsicherung.”
The minimum income for the aged and for long-term reduction of earning capacity is provided for
- people who are not capable of working for long-term, i.e. those who are no longer able to work
- people whose retirement or reduction in earning capacity pension/disability pension is not sufficient or those who are of retirement age but who are not eligible for retirement claims
The amount of minimum income is equal to ALG II, i.e. 359 euro for people living alone in addition to the payments for suitable accommodations and heating costs.
Minimum income is regulated by the German Social Code XII (in SGB XII).
Situations or emergencies can occur again and again, for which there is no public support. In these cases, the following institutions may be able to help:
- German AIDS Foundation (DAS)
The German AIDS Foundation helps HIV-positive people and people living with AIDS with material difficulties. The precondition is that no other is obligated to bear the costs. The amount of funding varies from case to case.
Applications can be filed with the foundation directly or through your local AIDS service organization. Application forms and the criteria for the awarding of funds can be downloaded from the foundation’s website.
The Michael Stich Foundation offers support for children who are infected with HIV or living with AIDS. Applications can be filed directly with the foundation or through the AIDS service organizations and clinics. In addition to individual case support, the foundation also finances group travel and seminars for children and young people infected with HIV.
People who draw on public assistance or minimum income for the aged sometimes require more money than they receive in certain situations, due to illness, for example. What is known as greater need can be claimed in these cases. There are no special regulations for people with HIV/AIDS but some of the other regulations are applicable.
Greater need for food (dietary allowance)
If a special diet is necessary due to illness, it is possible to apply for an allowance “of a suitable amount.”
As a rule, the public authorities conform to the recommendations from the German Association for Public and Private Aid e.V. (Deutschen Verein für öffentliche und private Fürsorge e.V.) in their calculations. According to the recommendations, an HIV/AIDS patient normally requires “only” normal whole foods, which is covered by the fixed rate. An additional allowance is only recommended
- when the Body Mass Index (BMI) is below 18.5 as a result of the disease
- in the event of 5 percent weight loss within 3 months due to the disease
The recommended additional allowance is 10 percent of the fixed rate of the social provisions received. If there is a need for more, it is possible to apply for a greater additional allowance with an attestation from a doctor.
In any case, greater need must be applied for in writing along with an attestation. That way the diagnosis is put on record. It is important to carefully consider whether that is for the best though.
Legal basis: Section21 (5) of the German Social Code II (SGB II), Section 30 (5) of the SGB XII
Greater need for (severe) disability
People with disabilities can claim some “greater need” as a flat rate and then receive a supplementary fixed amount regularly. To be eligible, you must:
- be unable to work, be under the age of 65, and in possession of an ID card for the severely disabled with the disability code G (constant supervision required). You will then receive an additional 17% of the fixed rate of the social provisions you receive (ALG II, for example). The legal basis for this rule is Section 30 (1) of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII). People over the age of 65 can claim greater need on the grounds of age (see next section).
- Disabled people receive an additional 35% of their fixed rate when they receive integration support in accordance with Section 54 Paragraph 1 No. 1-3 of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII). The legal basis for this is Section 30 (4) of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII).
- Disabled people who are capable of working receive an additional 35% of their normal provision when they are entitled to “benefits for participation in working life (according to Section 33 of the SGB IX)” or other “aid for acquiring a suitable position in working life.” The legal basis for this is Section 21 (4) of the German Social Code II (SGB II).
Greater need on the grounds of age
People who are over the age of 65 receive an additional 17% of the fixed rate of their social provisions. The legal basis for this is Section 30 (1) of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII).
People with HIV/AIDS can apply for greater need to cover the cost of condoms. The rules governing this vary in the individual administrative bodies and federal states. In some cases a flat rate is refunded; in other cases the amount on the receipt is refunded. Some administrative bodies demand a certificate from a doctor confirming the need before issuing an authorization.
The underlying wording of the law is:
“Medical prevention services and examinations are provided for the prevention and early detection of diseases. Other services are only provided when without said services the threat of disease or another health impairments exist, in the opinion of a doctor.” (Section 47 of the German Social Code XII Preventive Health)
Greater need for hygiene
People with HIV often require special hygiene articles such as laundry detergent or skin care products.
According to current law, they can therefore apply for greater need for hygiene if they are already receiving public assistance or “minimum income for the aged and long term reduction in earning capacity.” Conditions: The greater need must be a result of illness and verifiable. The legal basis for this is Section 73 of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII) “Aid in other circumstances of life” and Section 28 (1) of the German Social Code XII (SGB XII).
According to the law, ALG II recipients are not entitled to register for greater need for hygiene. It is nevertheless worth applying! Social Courts and the Federal Constitutional Court have ruled that greater need can be claimed in certain cases regardless. For more information please refer to the section “Rules for cases of hardship.”
Thus far however, working groups and job centers have often rejected applications. Consulting with an AIDS service organization can help you assert your claim. The application should include an attestation from a doctor.
You’ll find more information on this matter at the website rechtpositiv.de.
If an HIV infection causes severe disabilities, you have certain rights as a result. In order to exercise these rights, you must apply for an ID card for the severely disabled at the appropriate agency.
A person adjudged a minimum degree of disability of 50 percent is considered severely disabled.Which social benefits and rights apply beyond that as a result of the disability is determined by means of expert opinion.
People who are certified a degree of disability between 30 and 50 percent can also claim the same rights to protection against unfair dismissal as the severely disabled. This requires filing an application at the Employment Agency.
It is not always wise to apply for an ID card for the severely disabled, since some employers do not like hiring severely disabled people. Even an application to claim equal rights should be considered carefully since employers are informed of this. Consulting with an AIDS service organization can help with the decision.
The laws concerning severe disability are governed in the German Social Code IX (SGB IX) starting with Article 68.
For more information:
Benefits for participation
Benefits for participation (formerly: integration assistance) are provided for people with disabilities and people at risk for disability (due to illness, for instance).
The following benefits are included:
- benefits for medical rehabilitation
- benefits for participation in working life
- benefits to secure livelihood and supplementary benefits like public assistance and minimum income
- benefits for participation in community life
These benefits are paid by various institutions including the Federal Employment Agency, the pension fund institutes, the public assistance agencies and the public health insurance funds.
The conditions are based on Section 3 of the constitutional law of Germany, which forbids discrimination of a person for their disabilities. The benefits are predominately governed by the German Social Code IX (SGB IX).
You’ll find information on claims and applications on a special Federal Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs website as well as the German Pension Fund Association’s website.
Detailed information about funding and support for people with disabilities in the working world and their employers can also be found on the Integration Office’s website.
People with disabilities received social provisions most often in the form of services and non-cash benefits. The responsible authorities, for example, send a caretaker, or a nursing service comes to the home. In the process, the person to receive the benefits often has very little say in the matter.
The personal budget offers an alternative. In place of services, a relevant amount of money is disbursed. From there, the person receiving benefits can arrange their own support as they see fit, by paying a caretaker, for instance, or commissioning a nursing service.
A personal budget can be applied for with the appropriate funding agencies, so for example with the Public Health Insurance Fund, the Long-term Care Fund, the Pension Fund, Public Assistance Agency, the Integration Office as well as the Federal Employment Agency.
“Benefits for participation” and other social provision can be included in the process. The legal basis is the German Social Code IX (SGB IX).
The personal budget represents a great opportunity. On the other hand, it is combined with a large amount of bureaucracy and calls for specialized knowledge. We therefore recommend consulting with a specialized help center.
You will find detailed information