The Knesset authorized in second and third reading Monday a bill which allocated some one billion shekel to holocaust survivors. The bill was sponsored by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen and is the legal cornerstone of a national program to aid survivors.
The program stipulates raising the minimum stipend enjoyed by all Holocaust survivors to NIS 2,200 – as opposed to NIS 1,825 – and will range up to NIS 5,400. The move will affect some 70,000 Holocaust survivors considered to be psychically handicapped in wake of the Holocaust as well as 18,500 survivors of the ghettos and the death camps.
In addition, survivors will no longer fund their own medication and will now receive 100% discount on state-subsidies drugs, as opposed to 50% as is enjoyed today.
After the bill passed, Lapid said "this is not just an amendment to a law, but an amendment to an historical injustice. For years survivors were faced with red tape and bureaucratic neglect, in which survivors did not top priorities.
"This is not just another billion shekel for Holocaust survivors, which joins another billion allocated in 2013, but a change in attitude. We have made the bureaucratic process easier to navigate in a bid to better allow survivors to get when they deserve."
The program further stipulates giving survivors of the ghettos and the death camps who immigrated to Israel after 1953 equal benefits as those who moved to Israel immediately after the war. The move is valued at NIS 277 million and mends what some have described as an historic injustice in which some survivors received less than others.
Until now, this group of 18,500 Holocaust survivors received a monthly stipend of NIS 1,500-1,800 a month; now in wake of the move they will receive somewhere between NIS 1,825-5,400 a month, depending on the severity of their situation, both in terms of physical and mental health.
The program also stipulates an annual NIS 2,000 grant to needy Holocaust survivors.
For the first time, spouses of Holocaust survivors who have passed away will also begin receiving stipends for the four years following the passing of their loved one, as opposed to three years, depending on the deceased's benefits.
The program also alters the manner in which the overall benefits of survivors are calculated. After the new program passed, funds received by the survivors from the Holocaust Survivors´ Rights Authority will not be factored in when they apply for social security benefits.