Should participation benefits for disabled people be means tested or not? This has been discussed in Germany for more than 40 years.
Currently disabled persons are only granted benefits for care and participation in society (the terms for personal assistance in Germany) when their complete assets and/or that of their closest relatives does not exceed €2600 or €3200 if in a partnership. The monthly income is then reduced to around €750 plus the rent for a “reasonable (maximum 60 m)” Apartment.
A disabled person who is dependent on personal assistance receives a maximum of €700 per month from the German care insurance if they do not to allow their income and assets be monitored permanently. Incidentally, this monitoring burdens the German taxpayer by around € 500 million per year, as shown in studies by the Forum for self-determined assistance.
Those who rely on support in large amounts must therefore dig deep into their pockets to finance their assistance.
On the other hand, assistance actually makes it possible for disabled people previously excluded from the labor market due to their impairments to have skilled jobs, often even in the academic field. But under the current circumstances, the incentive to engage in a job is minimal as income and assets must be re-used directly to finance the personal assistance. It is basically not profitable or worth it for persons dependent on individual assistance to work. Furthermore, employees with disabilities have to pay taxes and social security just like every other employee. If a person with disability does not work because it is not economically profitable then the state also loses out on revenue that it would have received in terms of tax and social security income that would have been generated by the disabled person being in employment.
Partners of people in need of assistance have identical problems. They also have to first use up all their income and assets to pay for their partners’ assistance. That partnerships with people requiring personal assistance are almost not existent needs no further explanation.
For several months a petition has been demanding that assistance services for disabled people are granted regardless of their income and assets as compensation for disadvantages. The petition now has over 82,000 signees.
Currently coalition negotiations are being held in Germany. The Social Democratic Party has brought on the agenda the participation of disabled people as one of the 10 major points of the negotiations. Nevertheless, it is feared that income and assets will continue being retained for the financing of assistance, as this is seen as a deterrent to the use of services. Politicians are concerned that with the abolition of the income and asset limits many people, especially elderly people with care needs apply for funding to finance their assistance.
Germany is one of the few countries in Europe that grants means tested assistance . Germany’s ratification of the UN Convention in 2009 may mean that means testing could be considered as discrimination. However many assistance users outside Germany are watching this development critically, fearing that politicians in other European countries concerned with saving and cost cutting measures, could start reflecting on the German model.
Please sign the petition http://www.change.org/2600 now!
Article written by Corina Zolle