Obligation to support parents in need of care

The German civil rights code (BGB) defines in §1601 a duty of care for relatives in straight lineage. This means parents have a duty to care for their children but children also have a duty to care for their parents.

Parents in need of care usually pay the cost of their care themselves, using all acquired assets except protected assets that amount to no more than 2.500€. Should only one spouse be in a nursing home with the other still living in jointly owned property, special regulations apply. If the couple have given away assets no more than ten years previously, these assets can be claimed back to cover the costs of nursing care.

Should the income and the assets of the parents not suffice to cover the costs of care, benefits can be claimed from the social welfare office. The social welfare office will then first check the income situation of all children. If they find that the children are in a financial position to support their parents, a claim to maintenance according to their current situation is calculated for the parents. Living in a nursing home this usually comprises of uncovered accommodation costs as well as pocket money (at least 100€ per month) for the parents. These costs will be shared between the children according to their income. How exactly the claim to maintenance of the parents is calculated and how the income situation of the children is evaluated you can find out by contacting your respective social welfare service.

If this still isn’t enough to cover the costs for the nursing home, there are two governmental options for support available. First is the so called basic social care for the elderly (Grundsicherung im Alter). This is not tight to a need for care and can be claimed by any person over the age of 65 who is no longer employed. The second option are social benefits for persons in need of care.


Social benefits for persons in need of care

The nursing care insurance can only cover the basics. If this should not be sufficient to cover the costs of care (also not by the income and assets of the person in need of care and only partially or not at all through a claim of maintenance of children in direct lineage) the remaining costs can be covered by social benefits. This applies for residential as well as ambulant care.

If the person in need of care is living in a nursing home, the social benefits will also cover the costs of accommodation as well as investment costs of the nursing home, which are not covered by the nursing care insurance. A monthly sum is also paid which will provide for everyday needs not provided by the nursing home.

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