Israeli Holocaust Survivors With Dementia Don't Get the Government Aid They're Entitled To

Some 3,440 survivors who are entitled to thousands of shekels a year are not receiving aid either because they are unable to submit the required forms or are unaware that they qualify

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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Holocaust survivors demonstrating in front of government offices in Tel Aviv.
Holocaust survivors demonstrating in front of government offices in Tel Aviv. Credit: Nir Kafri
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

Thousands of Holocaust survivors in Israel who are suffering from dementia are not receiving the government allowances that they are entitled to either because they are incapable of applying for the assistance or are unaware that they qualify for it, the Social Equality Ministry said.

Ministry staff asked the Finance Ministry to directly transfer the funds to the Holocaust survivors' bank accounts without the need to fill out the forms, but Finance Ministry officials said that would require an additional budget or would have to come out of the Social Equality Ministry’s existing budget.

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The Social Equality Ministry and the Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority have determined that of the 8,231 Holocaust survivors with dementia who are entitled to the benefit, only 4,789 are actually receiving it. The others simply have not submitted the required forms and proof of eligibility.

The financial assistance varies in amount depending on the survivors' needs. The monthly benefit for custodial nursing care at home is 740 shekels ($230). They are entitled to 1,000 shekels to employ foreign nursing care worker at home or 1,400 shekels per month for institutional nursing home care. The Social Equality Ministry and the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority had asked the Finance Ministry to automatically pay the benefit since the authority already has the documentation on the survivors’ state of dementia.

In response, the Finance Ministry said it would require an additional government budget. The matter is still a subject of discussion, with the Social Equality Ministry insisting that the unpaid 30 million shekels in funds would have to be paid out if they were applied for.

“Thirty million shekels designated for assistance to survivors with dementia is not getting to them because they have not exercised their rights,” Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen of Kahol Lavan told Haaretz. “I have approached the Finance Ministry on the subject that the benefit be paid automatically, by default,” she said. “There is no logic in having [the survivors] prove their condition every year, creating an exhausting and unnecessary bureaucratic burden for everyone involved.”

The Finance Ministry said in response that the state transfers about 5.5 billion shekels a year to Holocaust survivors via its Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority.

“The Social Equality Ministry can provide an allocation for [survivors with dementia] from its own budget. Therefore, instead of spending 3 million shekels on advertising and campaigns, the Social Equality Ministry could choose to divert these budgets to support for Holocaust survivors, including those who became disabled while fighting the Nazis. There is no doubt that the Finance Ministry would support and encourage such a step.”

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz did not respond to an inquiry from Haaretz on the issue.

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