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July 3, 2019 10:23 am

Negotiations With Germany Result in Increased Welfare for Holocaust Survivors, Payment for Surviving Spouse

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Female survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945. Photo: No. 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Oakes, H (Sgt). – The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (also known as the Claims Conference) announced on Monday the results of the organization’s negotiations this year with the German government on behalf of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

“These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiations delegation, including additional compensation and greater funding for social services, will help ensure dignity in survivors’ final years,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman. “It remains our moral imperative to keep fighting as long as there are still survivors with us.”

The most recent negotiations resulted in an increase of around $50 million from last year in funding for social-welfare services for Holocaust survivors, bringing the total worldwide allocation for 2020 for social-welfare services funded by Germany to more than $587 million.

The Claims Conference currently funds social-welfare services for approximately 132,000 Jewish Nazi victims globally, including in-home care for more than 78,000 elderly and vulnerable Holocaust survivors around the world, enabling them to live their remaining days in dignity and in their own homes. The organization assists some 54,000 survivors with other vital services including, food, medicine, transportation to doctors and programs to alleviate social isolation.

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Payments to more than 60,000 survivors in 83 countries

Along with expanded home-care funding and pension increases, the Claims Conference reached a few “first-ever” agreements during this year’s negotiations.

For the first time, an agreement on a Surviving Spouse Payment has been achieved.

Until now, monthly pensions under the Claims Conference Article 2 and Central and Eastern European Funds, often a major source of a couple’s income, ended when the survivor passed. This new agreement will allow a surviving spouse, as of Jan. 1, 2020, to receive a payment for a period of nine months to aid them with funeral expenses, living expenses and other financial adjustments.

There will also be continued increases for Holocaust survivors receiving direct compensation.

Through its various compensation programs, the Claims Conference will distribute around $380 million in direct payments to more than 60,000 Holocaust survivors in 83 countries, bringing the total funding from Germany through the Claims Conference for Holocaust survivors to more than $967 million.

Monthly pension payment amounts are also increasing to $503.67, as of Monday, and will be paid retroactively to Jan. 1, 2019, and then will increase to $579.43, as of Jan. 1, 2020, and $655.10, as of Jan. 1, 2021. This reflects a 46 percent increase over a 13-month period in pension payments negotiated by the Claims Conference with Germany last year.

Finally, Righteous Gentiles will be recognized.

For the first time in history, it was agreed that for those who were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem and are in need, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is going to pay a monthly pension. Those heroes who risked their lives to save Jews were first acknowledged through a support program by the Claims Conference in 1963. Further details have to be determined.

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