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German retiree loses subsidized Fla. beach pad

A German pensioner who had been living in a Florida beach pad paid from  his $2,200 monthly social security payment has been forced to return to Germany after his benefit was slashed, authorities said Tuesday.
/ Source: Reuters

A German pensioner living in a Florida beach pad paid for out of his $2,200 monthly social security payments has been forced to return to Germany after the government cut his benefit, authorities said Tuesday.

The former banker, who left Germany in 1979 saying living in the country made him depressed, has a doctor’s certificate of disability and was granted the money because he lacked independent financial means, Frankfurt social welfare said.

“Florida Rolf,” 65, caused a media storm last year and sparked a heated debate about flaws in the German welfare system when his carefree lifestyle hit newspaper headlines.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s ruling coalition changed the law in record time and passed legislation imposing stricter conditions on social security payments for Germans living abroad.

“Florida Rolf was forced to come back because he no longer fulfils the conditions to receive such payments,” Franz Frey, head of Social Services in Frankfurt, told Reuters.

Authorities in Frankfurt said the man, for whom no surname has been given, refused an offer of the minimum payment of 205 euros ($248) per month and accommodation, Frey said.

“It was a far cry from his home in Florida,” he added. “He can only expect to get more from us if he finds a flat where the rent is commensurate with his claim.”

The man has no registered address and has not been heard from since coming to the social welfare offices earlier this month, Frey said.