Disability Benefits in Germany

Understand what support and financial aid is available to people with disabilities...

Germany's administration is largely decentralised. Each District Office (Bezirksamt) has someone who handles disability matters (Behindertenbeauftragter), who can give advice about the range of financial, educational and professional support available to disabled people in their district.

For information about integration into the work force, disabled people should contact the rehabilitation team at the local Labour Agency (REHA-Team, Agentur für Arbeit).

Degree of disability (Grad der Behinderung, GdB)

German social law defines a level of disability as a non-temporary diminishing of bodily or psychological abilities that is due to an irregular state, rather than induced by age or temporary illness.

Benefit payments vary according to the degree of disability. The Pension and Benefits office (Versorgungsamt) in the disabled person's residence will assess the degree of disability (from 20 to 100), based on existing documents or further examination by the applicant's doctors.

How to claim

To qualify for any allowances or special employment conditions, disabled people need to address their local Pensions and Benefits Office (Versorgungsamt) in order to be granted a grading of disability.

  • For a list of offices by region: Click here (in German)

It is useful to list the names and addresses of all doctors consulted (family doctor and specialists including, if applicable, psychotherapists) as well as attach any relevant doctor's certificate, laboratory reports and hospital notes.

People with a high degree of disability, that is, more than 50 percent (Schwerbehinderte), are issued with a disability card (Schwerbebehindertenausweis) that lists the level and nature of their disability. It is valid throughout Germany.

Benefits available

Seriously disabled people are entitled to allowances and special employment conditions:

  • Tax allowances, including car tax reduction, depending on the degree of disability
  • Special protection against dismissal: any notice given must have prior agreement by the Office for Integration (Integrationsamt). If the employer fails to do this it must retract the dismissal if the disabled employee files a complaint at the Labour court (Arbeitgericht) within three weeks. This protection also applies if the disability is unknown to the employer or is only graded retrospectively
  • Five additional days of annual leave
  • A right to employment: all organisations with twenty or more employees need to fill at least five percent of available posts with disabled people
  • Disabled parking badge (Behinderterparkausweis)

Blind, highly visually impaired and deaf people may also be entitled to a state care allowance (Landespflegegeld) which allocates a lump sum as compensation for extra expenses incurred due to the disability. The amount depends on the degree of disability. More information can be obtained from the Youth and Social department at the District Office of residence of the disabled person (Geschäftsbereich Jugend und Soziales, Bezirksamt).

Disabled people who need help in carrying out everyday tasks (such as domestic chores, mobility and personal hygiene) may be entitled to care insurance (Pflegeversicherung) payments, as may their carers. Further information can be obtained from the disabled person's or carer's health insurance organisation (Krankenkasse).

Disabled people may also be entitled to an accommodation grant (Wohngeld), the amount of which depends on the level of disability, the number of people in the household and the monthly rental payments.

Pension based on reduction in earning capacity (Erwerbsminderungsrente)

People who are unable to work for more than three hours a week based on normal working conditions and whose disabilities are unlikely to change in the future are entitled to a full pension. The amount of this pension is halved if the working hours extend to between three and six hours per week.

The assessment of working capacity is linked to health reasons and not to the person's capacities for a current, specific job, for example the applicant is judged against their potential participation in the general job market and not solely their own previously chosen profession.

The monthly amount depends on the pensioner's years of contribution, their previous and current average earning and their place of residence in Germany (for example in the "old" or "new" German federal states). The person's pension fund (Rentenversicherungsträger) can give further information and process claims.