Disability identification card

In order to have a severe disability officially recognized, the affected party has to undergo a determination process [Feststellungsverfahren]. During the course of this, the "degree of disability" [Grad der Behinderung, GdB] is officially determined. For this, an application with the responsible pension office [Versorgungsamt] or another authority responsible under state law is required. If the determined degree of disability is higher than 50, the applicant is classified as severely disabled and receives a disability identification card.

The basis for this is the Disability Identification Card Regulation [Schwerbehindertenausweisverordnung, SchwbAwV].

This ID card serves as evidence that disadvantage compensation, to which a disabled person is legally entitled (Constitutional Law [Grundgesetz] of the Federal Republic of Germany, Article 3 (3), Sentence 2), is being claimed. There are various types of disadvantage compensation. These include, for example, special protection against dismissal, entitlement to additional vacation days, tax benefits and price reductions at many recreational and cultural facilities.

In addition to the degree of disability and the expiration of validity, if applicable, additional health-related characteristics are shown on the disability identification card in the form of identifiers.

aG Severe walking impairment
H Helpless within the meaning of the Income Tax Act [Einkommenssteuergesetz]
Bl Blind
Gl Deaf
RF Exemption from the radio and television fee obligation, social tariff with T-Home
1.Kl. Entitles the ID holder to travel in first class on Deutsche Bahn trains with a second class ticket or within the personal route directory (only for pension recipients under the Federal War Victims Relief Act [Bundesversorgungsgesetz] or the Federal Indemnification Law [Bundesentschädigungsgesetz])
B Authorization to take along a companion when using public transport
G Significant impairment of the ability to move in road traffic

As of 1 January 2009, the German Pension Medical Ordinance [Versorgungsmedizin-Verordnung] has been used to assess the degree of disability and determine whether additional health-related requirements exist for claiming disadvantage compensation.

This is provided for by law and legally binding for administrations and courts.

Applying for a disability identification card

First of all: severely disabled persons are not required to have a disability identification card, but they are entitled to one.

The disability identification card can definitely also have disadvantages, e.g. when applying for a job. Severely disabled persons are entitled to special protection against dismissal and, therefore, some employers may shy away from hiring severely disabled persons.

It is therefore recommended to carefully weigh the pros and cons of having a disability identification card. Even without this ID card, an entitlement to compensation for a certain number of disadvantages exists—just not for all of them.

The application is made to the responsible pension office. Initially, an informal letter is sufficient. The pension office then sends out the necessary forms. Many offices also make these applications available as downloads on their websites. It therefore makes sense to use the correct forms from the get-go. Together with the application, relevant medical documents and certificates must also be submitted, which show the type and degree of the disability. In the best-case scenario, this information will be enough for the pension office to determine the degree of disability, and the classification notice [Einstufungsbescheid] as well as the disability identification card will be sent out.

If the classification cannot be performed on the basis of the submitted documents, the pension office will request additional certificates or send an expert via the Medical Service [Medizinischer Dienst]. This allows the expert to get a good idea of the type and seriousness of the existing disability and he/she will then determine the proper classification and identifier/s.

Appeal against the classification notice

An appeal can be filed against the classification within a specific time limit (usually one month). For this, an informal letter to the pension office is sufficient; this should preferably be done by registered letter with return receipt due to the expiring time limit.

Sample letter for an appeal against the classification notice

The appeal letter should not contain any more details than those included in the sample letter because the basis of the pension office's assessment is usually not stated in the classification notice.

The reasons are only known after receipt of the relevant documents/file inspection. To begin with, it should be checked whether all of the submitted findings and certificates have been taken into account. Then the appeal can be formulated. Here, it is important to describe the very individual consequences and impairments of the disability.

As the pension office may possibly request another opinion from the attending physician, it makes sense to discuss the prepared appeal with him/her. It can also be helpful to view the attending physician's patient file. An informal letter is sufficient to start the process.

Sample letter for requesting a copy of the patient file

Every patient has the right to inspect the data that the physician has recorded about him/her.

Right to file inspection

Forms and applications


Application for determination of the degree of disability, modification, issuance of a disability identification card


Pension offices, addresses (nationwide)

Pension offices, competency based on place of residence