The personal budget was introduced with Book IX of the Social Code (SGB IX) on 1 July 2001. It allows recipients of benefits from rehabilitation funds to choose a personal budget in place of participation-oriented services or benefits in kind. Claimants cover the costs of the assistance they need from their budget. People with disabilities are given their personal budgets and are thus responsible for 'buying' the assistance they need. This broadens their scope for self-determination, making them more independent and responsible for meeting their own needs; they are purchasers, customers or employers . Best placed to assess their own needs, they can determine the type and structure of the support they receive, from whom they receive it and when.
This freedom of choice gives people with disabilities far more decision-making authority.
The personal budget dissolved the former triangle between benefit funds, benefit recipients and service providers; benefits in kind are replaced by cash benefits or vouchers.
Personal budgets which consolidate assistance from different funds have been instrumental in enhancing participation-oriented assistance. They allow different forms of participation and rehabilitation assistance from several funds to be combined into one budget. Since 1 July 2004, along with all forms of participation-oriented assistance, other assistance provided by the statutory health insurance funds, long-term care insurance funds, occupational accident insurance funds and care provided as part of social assistance can be included in this form of personal budget.
To receive a personal budget, people with disabilities must apply for it with their benefit fund. A legal entitlement to a personal budget was introduced on 1 January 2008. This means that the rights of potential budget recipients to express desires and to choose are met in full and whenever the legal requirements are fulfilled, all applications for personal budgets must be approved.