This article gives a broad overview of the fundamental right of social assistance. The central question is to what extent the fundamental right to social assistance can count on universal recognition and what legal consequences are drawn from this right when it is invoked in national courts. In order to answer this question, we have looked at this right from a global, a regional (Europe and Africa) and a national perspective (Germany, the Netherlands and South Africa). On the basis of this study we discern a broad synergy in the normative context, not only transgressing through but also operating above the national constitutional jurisdictions. It is observed that from a legal perspective the added value of this right lies in the possibility for an individual to address structural shortcomings in the existing architecture of social assistance schemes. This possibility places courts in the position to critically review the system in the light of human rights requirements.