More than one million objections were filed with the social insurance agencies in 2016. These opposition proceedings (Widerspruchsverfahren) are also part of day-to-day business in the procedures for basic social security, welfare and other areas of social law. It causes additional expense for the administration and blocks direct access to judicial legal protection for citizens. However, important functions are ascribed to the opposition proceeding: It is intended to relieve the burden on the courts, offer the administration the possibility of self-monitoring and help those affected to protect their rights.
However, it is unclear whether the opposition proceeding in its current form does justice to these functions. Neither the self-correction potential of the opposition proceeding, nor its relieving function could be proven so far. This also applies to the – from a legal point of view – particularly interesting question of how it affects the enforcement and enforceability of social rights.
This project of the Social Law Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy therefore deals with the role of the opposition proceeding for the person seeking justice: How does it affect the appellant? What influence does it have on the decision to enforce rights in court? How is the proceeding perceived and which procedural arrangements play a role in it?
The project pursues two objectives: It is intended to close a gap in scientific discourse in which internal administrative legal protection in social law usually plays no role. In addition to that, the findings from the project should also be put to practical use and serve as a legal policy guide for an effective opposition proceeding.
At the core of the project is a survey of the appellants who filed objections with the German Federal Pension Insurance (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund). The participants, who will be randomly selected, will anonymously answer questions about their opposition proceedings, their decision to file an objection and their perceptions.