A conversation with lawyer Volker Gerloff


A conversation with lawyer Volker Gerloff

The Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act for Social Work

We recently published the textbook “Das Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz für die Soziale Arbeit” (The Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act for Social Work). It presents the complex and complicated subject matter of the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act in a comprehensible and practical manner and shows the scope for enforcing social rights. The book fills a gap for practitioners and students of social work. We talked to the author Volker Gerloff about it.

Can you briefly explain how significant the role of the AsylbLG is?

“The AsylbLG regulates the livelihood and health care for a large number of people. All asylum seekers and all tolerated persons (i.e. persons whose asylum procedure has failed but whose deportation is not possible) are covered and, in addition, some holders of residence permits. At the end of 2021, a total of just under 400,000 people were receiving benefits under the AsylbLG.

The special feature of the AsylbLG is that, in addition to ensuring subsistence, including appropriate benefits for housing and heating, all health care benefits and needs coverage for existing disabilities are also included. For those affected, therefore, all essential existential issues are linked to the application of the AsylbLG.

In stark contrast to the range of benefits that can arise from the AsylbLG is the scope of the law – it includes only 28 paragraphs, while in “normal social law” a whole 5 full codes are needed for the corresponding benefit rights (SGB II; V; IX; XI; XII). Therefore, without specialized knowledge, the cryptic AsylbLG cannot be applied in a meaningful way.”

Can you give examples of the practicality of your textbook?

“The textbook goes into more detail where there are actual practical problems and more legal-academic quibbles are only briefly mentioned. The main point is to present where and how the maximum benefits can be achieved for those concerned. To this end, numerous examples and practical tips are given to make the whole thing tangible.

Particularly in the case of the sanction norm of § 1a AsylbLG, which is very important in practice, practical checklists are provided with which notices can be effectively checked for possible points of attack.

Last but not least, a basic set of tools for the assertion of affected persons’ rights through legal remedies is also provided.”

Author RA Volker Gerloff, FASozR

The – according to you – compact and often inadequate AsylbLG presents difficulties, but also opportunities. What possibilities would these be, for example?

“The possibilities lie primarily in the inadequacy of the AsylbLG. For example, Section 6 (1) of the AsylbLG offers a very broad range for possible benefits to be provided to those affected. These range from additional needs for subsistence, health benefits and child-specific benefits to benefits for costs associated with obligations to cooperate with the immigration authorities. This standard can therefore be used, for example, to grant passport procurement costs in addition to integration assistance benefits and/or care benefits.

Or Section 3 (3) sentence 3 AsylbLG can be mentioned. This norm states, among other things, that electricity costs are to be paid separately for those affected by the AsylbLG if they live in their own apartments. This means that the actual electricity costs can be covered if they are reasonable. This is not to be underestimated – in times of rising energy costs. Anyone who receives a citizen’s allowance or social assistance receives the standard rate and has to get by with it and thus also pay the electricity costs. A typical case where the legislator has “not paid attention” and “by mistake” privileges those receiving basic benefits under § 3 AsylbLG.”