In a dispute over the costs of a dispute with the job center, a Hartz IV recipient successfully sued in Karlsruhe. The constitutional complaint was obviously justified, the Federal Constitutional Court announced on Wednesday.

The woman had rightly lodged an objection in 2020 because the office had wrongly assumed that her income was too high when calculating her benefits. According to the decision, she should be reimbursed for the costs on application. When nothing had happened after six months, she brought an action for failure to act at the Darmstadt Social Court. The legal dispute was settled because the job center was now active. However, the woman also wanted reimbursement of her out-of-court costs for this procedure.

The social court had rejected this. The reason given was that the lawsuit appeared wanton. It would have made more sense to choose the cheaper and usually faster route and simply ask the job center again. A simple letter from a lawyer setting a reasonable deadline would have done the trick.

According to the Constitutional Court, however, there is no “general obligation to draw the authority’s attention to the outstanding decision on the application or objection after the statutory waiting period has expired, to announce that the complaint will be filed and to ask whether they will make a decision soon”.

On the contrary: the legislature itself regulated how long those affected had to wait. “Anyone who complains after these deadlines are generally not acting in bad faith.”

The competent chamber of the First Senate overturned the decision of the Social Court. It now has to decide again about the reimbursement and heed the specifications. (Az. 1 BvR 311/22)

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