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Social statistics

Theme in brief

Public assistance

Under public assistance (SGB XII), benefits are provided to individuals and households who are unable to meet their own needs and lack (sufficient) entitlement under other insurance and welfare systems that come before it. Apart from continuous subsistence payments, this refers to basic security benefits in old age and in cases of reduced earning capacity as well as "special benefits of public assistance" such as integration assistance for disabled persons, assistance for nursing care, assistance towards health care.

In FOCUS / 2016-04-24

Basic security benefits: at retirement age, women are particularly affected

The current debate on statutory pensions focuses on old-age poverty. In December 2015, a total of roughly 1,038,000 people in Germany received basic security benefits in old age and in cases of reduced earning capacity from the government. 536,000 of them had reached or exceeded retirement age and received basic security benefits in old age (51.6%).

By providing basic security benefits in old age, the government supports people whose pension - possible together with other income - is not sufficient to cover their living expenses. Compared with a year earlier, the number of recipients was up 4.7%. The number of all persons receiving basic security benefits rose 3.5% in the same period.

At retirement age, women needed much more often government support than men. In December 2015, roughly 60.0% of the people receiving basic security benefits in old age were women. Examining all recipients of basic security benefits shows that the ratio between the sexes was almost balanced (women: 52.1%; men: 47.9%).


Additional Information

Key figures

Recipients of public assistance
Basic security benefits 03/20161,038,994
Assistance for nursing care 2014452,514
Households receiving housing allowance 2014564,983
Benefits for asylum seekers2015974,551
Public children and youth welfare
Expenditure (EUR bn) 201437.7
Social reporting
Proportion of recipients of minimum social security benefits 20149.3%


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