An 86-year-old former cleaner has been told social services will be deducting 230 EUR a month from her pension to pay an allowance to a 60-year-old son she has not seen in years.
The 86-year-old, identified only as Heidi M., spent 25 years of her working life as a cleaner in a bank, and said she now needed all of her money for her old age, including for medication.
She said she was shocked when she heard that her son Richard, who she had not seen for years, was now to receive money from her pension to help pay his upkeep.
She said: “I haven’t spoken to him for years. I know that he can’t work but I don’t know the details, but after paying benefits for 40 years into the state pension scheme, because I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, I am now shocked to find they are going to be taking money from me. It has made me very sad.”
After she retired, the pensioner cared for her husband Manfred, aged 79, who had worked installing floors for 45 years. She was entitled to a monthly pension of 1,734.40 EUR (1,536 GBP) but according to the German social services she only needs 1,500 EUR (1,328 GBP) to live, anything over that is being confiscated to pay for her jobless son.
They wrote: “It has been assessed that a satisfactory standard of living can be maintained for you going forward with an income of 1,500 EUR, and as a result anything over this necessary basic income can be provided to your son.”
German newspaper Bild later tracked down the son, who lives hundreds of kilometres away and who was shocked to find money from his elderly mother was being used to cover the benefits he was paid. As well as rent he receives an additional 400 EUR (354 GBP) a month in emergency benefits.
He revealed that he had suffered from burnout working too hard, and now finds it difficult to commit to a full-time job but after learning what the social services had done, he said he planned to renew his efforts to have himself reclassified as eligible for work, and to try to hold down a job.
He said: “I am really sorry about what happened. I don’t want to be a burden on her, and I’m trying to get myself reclassified as eligible for work.”
Family lawyer Jan Christian Berndt, 51, said that in principle a contribution towards living costs for adult children can be deducted regardless of whether there was any family contact anymore or not.”
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