High Court Strikes Down Petition to Increase Disability Benefits to Elderly

Justices tell petitioners 'it would be advisable to persist in conducting the struggle within the public sector,' as they do not possess power to support them on the judicial-institutional realm

Disabled protesters block a street in Tel Aviv in October, 2018.
Tomer Appelbaum

The High Court of Justice on Thursday chose not to intervene in the state's decision to continue allotting senior citizens with disabilities half the allowance given to younger disabled people. 

Justices deliberated the issue following a petition by the Ken Lazaken senior citizens’ rights group and the Center for the Blind in Israel, who demanded an increase in the stipend of 70,000 senior citizens with disabilities.

The judges recommended the organizations withdraw the petition, saying they brought up "principled claims regarding the boundary between disability allowance in its current form and the senior citizen stipend, and in relation to the discrimination between disabled groups."

Justices Daphne Barak-Erez, Anat Baron and Ofer Grosskopf noted before the petitioners that they empathized with them and "their claims have things worth hearings, but it would be advisable to persist in conducting the struggle within the public sector, since we do not possess the ability to support them on the judicial-institutional realm."

Yifat Solel, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, lamented the High Court's decision not to "intervene and right the wrong created by the legislator. The Israeli Knesset proves time and again that it perceives discrimination against the elderly as legitimate."

Solel said the court's recommendation to the state to "mend its ways falls on deaf ears, and are even seen as approval, instead of criticism that beckons change."

Last week, Haaretz reported that the Finance Ministry is opposing a further increase in the allowance that it provides to senior citizens with disabilities. Disabled senior citizens now receive 235 shekels ($65) a month while younger disabled recipients get 470 shekels per month.