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Number of people needing state help in Germany at record high

A growing number of people in Germany require state help to compensate for earnings shortfalls because of age or illness, the statistics office reports. More than a million people were receiving the benefits as of 2015.

On Tuesday, Germany's Federal Statistics Office released figures showing that 1.038 million people were receiving basic security benefits at the end of last year - the highest number since the benefits were introduced in 2003 and 3.5 percent more than in 2014.

Anyone over the age of 18 who is unable to work more than three hours a day under normal working conditions, and those whose age pensions are inadequate to live on, are eligible for the benefits.

The statistics office reported that more than half of the recipients - about 536,000 people - are senior citizens, while around 502,000 receive the benefits because they have reduced earning capacity following illnesses or disabilities.

At the end of 2003, the year the measure was introduced, fewer than half a million people drew this form of state support.

Rising retirement age

It is still unclear whether the increase in numbers is larger than the growth in the aged population in Germany, as no current population statistics are available.

The age at which Germans born after 1947 can claim the benefits has been rising in tandem with the retirement age since January 2012. Currently, the age of eligibility is 65 years and four months. The final envisaged age of retirement is 67.

Those born before 1947 have been eligible since the age of 65.

tj/jil (dpa, epd)

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