Israeli Cabinet Approves Adding $400 Million in Benifits for Disabled

Deal culminates long, stormy street protests - on condition that Knesset approves increase

FILE PHOTO: Israelis with disabilities protest low benefits from government
Moti Milrod

The cabinet approved allocating 1.4 billion shekels ($400 million) to increase allowances for the disabled beginning in January. The cabinet voted at its regular weekly meeting on Sunday to implement the agreement signed at the end of September with organizations representing the disabled.

This is the first stage in implementing the entire agreement, in which allowances will rise in four stages over three years, the first next month and the last in January 2021.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will bring the cabinet’s proposal to the Knesset for a vote in the next few days so the National Insurance Institute can prepare to pay the higher allowances as of January.

Another 50 million shekels was budgeted for aiding the blind, at the behest of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz.

The budget for the entire agreement, and not just the amount allocated for 2018, will be brought for cabinet approval as part of the 2019 state budget. The Finance Ministry has promised that this budget will include the money for the next three stages of the agreement.

Even though the agreement with the disabled was reached at the end of September after a long battle, including the blocking of major roads and other protests, until now the cabinet and Knesset had yet to advance legislation to implement the deal.

Representatives of the disabled praised the cabinet’s decision. Israel has 235,000 disabled persons and their monthly allowances have not been adjusted since 2000, when they were 2,239 shekels a month for a 100 percent disability. Today this figure is 2,342 shekels a month, while some of them receive up to a few hundred shekels more a month depending on their disabilities and medical conditions. Over this period these allowances have lagged behind the rise in the average wage by 42 percent, and by 70 percent in comparison to the rent index and 50 percent compared to the rise in the poverty-line income.