Social Compensation

Socialcompensation law

Socialcompensation law is based on the provisions set out in the Federal War Victims Relief Act, which was originally enacted to provide for WWII victims and their surviving dependants. Effective Jan. 1, 2024, social compensation law will be fundamentally reformed and, in addition to appropriate compensation, the focus will be on rapid assistance (trauma outpatient clinics, case management).

Who can claim?

If Social compensation benefits are paid to persons (injured persons) who have suffered damage to their health, the consequences of which are borne by the state community in compensation for a particular sacrifice or for other reasons, as well as their survivors, relatives and loved ones. Those eligible to social compensation include:

  • Victims of violent crimes
  • People whose health has been impaired in the course of civilian service
  • People whose health has been impaired as a result of a vaccination or a prophylactic measure
  • People whose health was impaired by the effects of World Wars I and II The same benefits and services may also be claimed by:
  • Victims of the SED regime in the former German Democratic Republic.

Available benefits and services

From 1 January 2024, the type and scope of social compensation benefits and services are governed by Book XIV of the Social Code. The range of benefits and services includes:

  • Rapid assistance through the provision of psychosocial counselling and support in the form of outpatient trauma counselling
  • Professional support by a case manager for the duration of the administrative process
  • Medical treatment and long-term nursing care
  • Participation assistance
  • Special assistance in individual cases
  • Monthly social compensation payments
  • Compensation for loss of income from work
  • Other benefits and services (for the blind; expenses for repatriation of remains and funeral expenses)

To claim benefits and services under Book XIV of the Social Code:

A harmful event must have occurred (e.g. a robbery) – see also section 3 – which resulted in health damage (e.g. a broken leg) leading to a health impairment (e.g. a walking disability) and/or financial loss (e.g. loss of income).

Harmful events that can lead to eligibility for social compensation under Book XIV of the Social Code are

  • Violent crimes
  • The effects of World Wars I and II
  • Vaccinations and other specific prophylactic measures
  • Events that occurred in the course of civilian service

Benefits and services for victims of violent crimes committed abroad

The provision of social compensation for victims of violent crime is the responsibility of the country in which the crime was committed. However, many countries have no legal provisions on state-provided compensation.

For reasons of social welfare, Book XIV of the Social Code also contains benefits and services for German nationals and people living in Germany who fall victim to violent crime abroad and suffer health-related injuries and consequences as a result.

These provisions also include the injured person’s family members and survivors. These benefits and services are limited in scope compared with the standard benefits and services provided under Book XIV of the Social Code.

Anyone who lives in Germany and is a victim of a violent crime during a temporary stay abroad can claim the following under Book XIV of the Social Code:

  • Rapid assistance provided in Germany
  • Medical treatment, which is normally also provided in Germany
  • A one-off payment of between €2,600 and €28,600

A stay abroad is deemed temporary if it is less than six months, or not more than a year in the case of school education or attendance at a university. Benefits and services provided under other social security and welfare systems are deducted from the above amounts. Family members and surviving dependants are also entitled to rapid assistance provided in Germany. Expenses for repatriation of remains and funeral expenses are also reimbursed.

Compensation for victims of violent crimes committed in another EU Member state

EU Council Directive 2004/80/EC relating to compensation for crime victims in cross border cases was adopted in Brussels on 29 April 2004. Its objective is to protect those who have become victim of a violent crime in another EU Member State. It obliges all EU Member States to put in place fair and appropriate national schemes on compensation to victims of violent crimes committed in their respective territories.

The German assisting authority – the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs – assists those in asserting their applications for compensation in the EU Member State in which they suffered the damage.

Its tasks include

  • providing victims with information about how to apply for compensation abroad, including about the procedure in the other country, time limits for filing the application, conditions of entitlement and any documentary evidence required,
  • providing application forms issued by the Member State in which the damage occurred,
  • finding out which authority will decide on the application for compensation in the other Member State,
  • passing the application for compensation on to the deciding authority in the other Member State together with the documentary evidence submitted,
  • having documents and correspondence translated into the relevant language free of charge,
  • assisting applicants and keeping them up to date throughout all the stages of the compensation procedure.

EU Member States take their decisions on such applications on the basis of their own national legislation. The statutory regulations on compensation in most other Member States of the EU are not as wide-ranging as those in Germany.

The German assisting authority has neither influence on the proceedings in the other Member State nor on the decisions taken.

Victims who file an application under the German Social Compensation Law – Book XIV of the Social Code in parallel should note the following:

  • If the foreign state pays compensation, this is credited against any compensation awarded under the Social Compensation Law – Book XIV of the Social Code. That is why it is important for victims to cooperate with the German assisting authority.
  • If an application for compensation has already been submitted under the German Social Compensation Law – Book XIV of the Social Code, the German assisting authority will be informed of that fact. It will then contact the applicant.

The German assisting authority can be contacted at the following address:

About the Federal Office for Social Security
Bundesstelle für Soziale Entschädigung
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 38
53113 Bonn
Telefon: +49 228 619 1300
Website: Federal Office for Social Security