Homecare Funding Increases, Changes to Pensions Also Negotiated
NEW YORK, April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Claims Conference has negotiated with the German government for historic successive increases in funding for homecare for Holocaust victims and for significant changes in its pension programs, announced Chairman Julius Berman.
The Claims Conference obtained a multi-year commitment for homecare funding for survivors around the world. For 2012, the German government will provide EUR126.7 million (approximately $177 million); in 2013, EUR136.7 million (approximately $191 million); and in 2014, EUR140 million (approximately $196 million), for vital homecare services for Jewish Holocaust victims living around the world. This totals EUR403 million (approximately $564 million).
The amount for 2012 is a 15 percent increase over the EUR110 million negotiated for 2011. The funds were obtained in the Claims Conference's annual negotiations with the German Ministry of Finance.
"With restitution-related sources of funding on the decline, this long-term agreement obtained by the Claims Conference is vital to addressing the growing social welfare needs of aging Holocaust survivors," said Julius Berman, Claims Conference Chairman. "It will provide survivors and the agencies that care for them the certainty that funding will be available to meet the anticipated growing demand over the next few years."
The Claims Conference will allocate the German government money to agencies around the world that provide in-home nursing and vital help with basic activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, bathing, and other services that greatly ease the lives of elderly Holocaust victims and enable them to remain living in their own homes.
"Once again, the German government has recognized its historic responsibility to help care for Jewish Holocaust victims in their final years," said Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Claims Conference Special Negotiator. "Over the decades, the government has demonstrated its commitment to alleviating the plight of elderly victims who need the care that these funds will provide."
“We demonstrated to the German government the plight of aging survivors who will need increased aid if they are to remain in their own homes. After all they suffered, we believe that Germany has a moral obligation to care for them in their final years and help them live out their lives with added dignity,” said Roman Kent, Chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.
"With these increased funds, the Claims Conference can provide more hours of homecare, addressing the most basic needs of these aging and frail victims of Nazism. We can enable more survivors to remain in their own homes, living in familiar surroundings while getting the services they need and deserve," said Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President.
Since 1995, the Claims Conference has been the foremost organization in the world in identifying and addressing the unique social welfare and health needs of Jewish victims of Nazism. In addition to the funds obtained from the German government, the Claims Conference allocates funds from various restitution-related sources, including the recovery of unclaimed Jewish property in the former East Germany; agreements with the governments of Austria and Hungary; the Swiss Banks Settlement; and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
For 2011, in total, the Claims Conference is allocating approximately $270 million for services to Nazi victims in 46 countries. Services from other sources of allocations include hunger relief, medical aid, winter assistance, transportation, help in applying for government benefits, and socialization opportunities to relieve loneliness.
Since 2004, the Claims Conference has negotiated with the German government for homecare funding, obtaining increased amounts each year.
Increases in Pension Payments
The Claims Conference obtained increased payments in its two pension programs for survivors. As of April 1, the Article 2 Fund monthly payments will increase from EUR291 to EUR300, for a total yearly annual increase of EUR5.5 million in payments (approximately $7.8 million annually). The Central and Eastern European Fund monthly payments will increase from EUR240 to EUR260, for a total annual increase in payments of EUR2.8 million (approximately $3.9 million).
In total, the Claims Conference obtained an additional EUR8.3 million (approximately $11.7 million) in annual pension payments.
Length of Time in a Ghetto
The criteria for Article 2 and CEEF payments currently stipulate that incarceration in a ghetto had to have been for at least 18 months in order to meet eligibility requirements for payment. In the negotiations, the German government agreed to review on an individual case by case basis the claims from survivors who were in a ghetto for less than 18 months to determine if, when reviewing the totality of their persecution and other factors, they are cases of special hardship.
"We stated that Nazi victims who survived in permanent fear of death in a ghetto should not have to prove 18 months persecution as every single day living under these conditions should be recognized," said Amb. Eizenstat.
Survivors Who Had Previously Received DM35,000
The Claims Conference obtained Article 2 Fund pensions for approximately 100 survivors who had previously been ineligible because they had already received more than DM35,000 in German government compensation payments in the 1950s and 60s. The Claims Conference negotiated for these payments because the persecution suffered by these survivors was generally extremely severe but they were excluded from lifetime pensions.
"Although the number of survivors affected is small, the moral principle behind this agreement is significant and we welcome the opportunity to finally issue pensions to this group," said Mr. Berman.
Several open issues were referred to a joint German government and Claims Conference working group whose mandate is to make recommendations for the next negotiating session, which Germany agreed would be convened in November 2011.
The Claims Conference negotiating delegation comprises Special Negotiator Amb. Stuart Eizenstat; Holocaust survivor leaders Roman Kent, Ben Helfgott, Noach Flug, and Marian Turski; Rabbi Andrew Baker and Amb. Reuven Merhav; and Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider and Special Consultant Saul Kagan.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) represents world Jewry in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. The Claims Conference administers compensation funds, recovers unclaimed Jewish property, and allocates funds to institutions that provide social welfare services to Holocaust survivors and preserve the memory and lessons of the Shoah.
SOURCE Claims Conference