Assistance and its funding for students with disabilities or chronic health issues.
As a rule, study assistants accompany one student individually through his/ her day at the university: during lectures and classes, in the library or the laboratory, during academic homework or with study-related tasks to be completed, on excursions and appointments on/off campus etc. They complete tasks of everyday life that students cannot cope with due to their disability. However, they do not get involved in the academic work itself. Whenever the disabled students requires personal/health care in addition to study-related assistance tasks,(e.g. Change of body position/ transfers, assistance during breaks, with toileting, eating/drinking) this assistance is often provided by the same person(s), even if the funding for this kind of care may come form a different source.
As a rule, study assistants may accompany students everywhere; assistance in exam situations may be granted on application as a form of accommodated examination conditions (Nachteilsausgleich).
Commonly, study assistance is provided and received in the form of an individualised service, organised by commercial service providers, charities or self-help organisations, and paid for by the pertinent agencies of the welfare state (by health care insurance or as a form of social subsidies). Instead of professional formal study assistance, some students also rely on the assistance family and friends may provide. In principle, this is an option; however, the scope of such assistance may be quite limited in practice. Moreover, this solution implies the risk of unnecessary tensions (at a very personal level), which may impede the self-determination of students with health issues. Due to legal regulations in German social law, close relatives may not be paid for care work with money from public funds.
The option of regular, professional study assistance need not interfere with or exclude occasional support provided by fellow students. Such support, however, will only in some special situations be enough to cover the needs of disabled students. As a rule, assistance with personal (health) care can not be provided in this manner.
Except for certain special constellations, the cost of study assistance is usually covered by social security payments / welfare benefits (Sozialleistungen). Applications may be addressed to the überörtliche Sozialhilfe-Träger (trans-regional agency of the welfare state) in charge. As of January 2020, this is the Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen (Public Welfare Association of Hessen) for applicants in Frankfurt am Main.
Whether you are eligible for social security payments if you are not a German citizen is a question of some legal complexity. We encourage you to seek legal advice on this as soon as possible, if this issue is likely to affect your stay/ studies in Germany.