Social assistance provides a safety net to prevent poverty and social exclusion. It takes care of the essential needs for persons and households that
- cannot meet their needs from their own resources and
- do not have (sufficient) entitlements to higher-ranking insurance and pension schemes.
It is regulated by law in the Twelfth Book of the Social Code (SGB XII). The SGB XII regulates general social assistance in contrast to basic income support for jobseekers capable of work. The term social assistance covers a wide range of benefits for different individual life situations. Social assistance aims to make possible a standard of living consistent with human dignity and ensure participation in society when a person’s own income and assets are insufficient for that purpose. Benefits vary depending on the personal situation, age and life situation.
The following benefits of the SGB XII are intended to guarantee livelihoods in the event of need for assistance:
- Livelihood support for people who are not able to work but are also not permanently fully incapacitated for work, and
- Basic income support in old age and in case of reduced earning capacity for people who have reached the standard retirement age or are permanently fully incapable of work.
In addition, social assistance includes further benefits, such as
- Healthcare assistance (e.g. payment of health insurance contributions, medical treatment),
- Long-term care assistance (e.g. if the social long-term care insurance or individual supplementary long-term care insurance does not cover the costs for long-term care or does not cover them completely),
- Assistance with overcoming especially difficult social problems (e.g. for people affected by or at risk of homelessness),
- Assistance in other situations (e.g. assistance for the blind or with funeral costs) as well as
- the respective necessary counselling and support.
The welfare office of the city or district where the person seeking assistance actually resides is responsible for providing social assistance.