Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert
Vol XXXIX: I was fired from my job after having worked over 6 months, but under a year. Am I entitled to benefits?
Sarah Gargi is director of the Publications Department in Research and Planning Administration at the head office of the National Insurance Institute, Jerusalem.
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In some cases, the only way to get an accurate answer to a specific question is to contact your local NII branch and supply your ID number. NII phone information center: (08) 936 9696 or (08) 650 9999. For general information see the NII web site most information is on the site in English as well.
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For Vols XIV to XXX click here.
Q: I made aliya around two years ago (August, 2004), yet only found a real high tech job approximately in early November of 2005. I have been fired ending July 2006. Am I entitled bituah leumi?
It's over 6 months, yet under a year.
I was fired under regular downsizing terms.
Do I get any added protection for being an oleh?
A: You aren't entitled to unemployment benefits from the NII (for that you need a year of work out of the past year and a half). There are no special conditions for new immigrants in Unemployment Insurance. However, I recommend that you apply for an income support benefit. There every case is considered on its own, the basic condition being that the person is not able to support himself and is not eligible for payment from any other source.
Q: I am 68 and made aliya in 1996. I currently get a special Kitzvat Zikna plus income support for my wife (aged 58) who has been unable to find work, mainly because of language difficulties. I work part time a few hours a week, earning around NIS 400 a month. Up to what amount am I/we allowed to earn before losing the income support supplement?
A: You can earn up to NIS 1,255 a month without detracting anything from your income supplement. If you earn more, your income supplement may be reduced accordingly, but not denied altogether. The amount of possible reduction depends both on the amount you earn and the amount of your total old-age pension.
Q: I made aliya in 1995 and then left the country in 1999 to live in Europe, without plans to return to Israel. I closed my bank account in Israel and owned no property there and had no Israel-based income. I have since lived in Brussels and London. I have now decided to go back to Israel and I am confused about how much money I will have to pay to Bituach Leumi for the years that I have been abroad. If indeed I do have to pay less since I paid contributions abroad, what proof do I need to show the Bituah Leumi people? If I don't have that proof, what amount will I have to pay?
I do not remember whether I officially informed Bituach Leumi when I left the country.
A: You are not considered a resident, since you left the country seven years ago, and therefore have no debt to the National Insurance Institute and are not required to pay for the years that you were out of the country. However, if you return to live in Israel, your status will be that of a returning resident, and as such, as of now you will have a 10-month waiting period before you are entitled to health services (two months for every year out of the country, since March 2001 - when the law came into effect). You may redeem this waiting period by paying a sum of NIS 8,550 to the NII through our internet site (by credit card). Six months after this payment is made, you are entitled to health services, so that if you pay six months before coming to Israel, you will be entitled upon arrival. (It is irrelevant that you paid social security contributions to institutions abroad.) You may find more information on our site: www.btl.gov.il.
Q: On Sept. 15, 2005, I wrote to you the following question and I include your reply.
"Q: In spite of the Misgav Ladach hospital being closed for over four and a half years, and it being more than two years since the Histadrut lawyers representing the workers submitted a request for Bituah Leumi to pay the workers' pitzuim as guaranteed them by law, only a small "advance" has been paid. Many of the former workers are in financial distress. When will Bituah Leumi pay us what we are entitled to get?
A: The person I spoke to at the Bankruptcy Department of the NII informs me that all the (81) claims of Misgav Ladach workers have been paid. You can call her: Edna Marciano, on (02) 646 3002."
Shortly thereafter, the remaining 52 workers who have not received their pitzuim had a meeting with the Histadrut lawyer, Galila Hornstein. She told us, inter alia, that BL was "waiting for a telephone call" from her at the end of the meeting, and that our pitzuim, given the holiday lag, would probably be paid before the end of 2005. It is now almost April of 2006, and we have heard or received nothing. I have tried to call Ms. Marciano several times and she is never available. It is now 5 years since the closure of the hospital, and almost three since the BL was petitioned to pay our pitzuim. With all the brouhaha over Bikur Holim's troubles, we seem to have been entirely forgotten. Perhaps you can help with this?
Thank you very much.
A: I spoke again with our Bankruptcy Department, and was again informed that all claims THAT HAVE REACHED THE NATIONAL INSURANCE INSTITUTE have been processed, and the claimants have been compensated. If you have not yet been compensated, it means that your claim has not yet reached the NII. You should check with the liquidator.
Q: I work as a consultant, both independently billing and occasionally working as a contract employee. In both cases I pay my Bituach Leumi regularly. However, two years ago, when I had no work, I was told I couldn't get unemployment payments because I own my own car.
I couldn't get a few of the jobs without a car, and I regularly pay BL for just such things as unemployment insurance. Not giving me insurance money is stealing from me.
I have no contracts right now. Has BL changed their rules, and can I get unemployment money, or does the theft continue?
A: Self-employed persons are not covered in unemployment insurance (and do not pay contributions to this branch). If, as an employee, you accumulated a "qualifying period" of work (during which insurance contributions were paid) of 360 days out of the 540 days prior to the unemployment, and fulfilled all other conditions of entitlement to unemployment benefit (including registration at the labor exchange), then you will receive the unemployment benefit, without any connection to your possession of a car.
A person who has exhausted his right to unemployment benefit may be entitled to an income support benefit (conditions of eligibility for this benefit must be fulfilled both by claimant and by spouse of claimant). Possession of a car generally rules out eligibility for this benefit, since it is a basic support benefit for those who are not capable of providing for themselves, and it is assumed that one who can afford the monthly maintenance expenses of a car is capable of providing for himself.
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Q: IY"H I will be making aliya this summer. There is a good chance that I will be able to continue working for my current employer via telecommuting (with occasional travel back to North America). I would be earning a salary in USD. How does someone in this situation pay NII premiums, and how would they be calculated? One factor making it more favorable for my company to keep me working abroad is that they would not need to pay my American health insurance premiums, and I want to be sure my family has coverage.
A: When you arrive in Israel, you should report to the local branch of the National Insurance Institute that is nearest to your place of residence, and tell them that you have income from abroad. Also, you'll have to report to the Income Tax Authority here on your income. The Tax Authority will tax you according to its assessments and transfer the information to the NII, which will oblige you accordingly. Afterwards you'll receive a paybook to pay the NII regularly, as a self-employed person (an employee working for a foreign company is given the status of self-employed as far as the NII is concerned).
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Q: My wife and I became Temporary Residents of Israel in June of 2001. In July of 2005 we became Permanent Residents. We have never stayed in Israel for more than 4-5 months at a time. We now want to spend most of our retirement in Israel. We never enrolled for medical benefits with Bituach Leumi. I understand we should have done so and should have been paying monthly premiums. How can we correct the problem so that we will be able to receive medical coverage?
A: The general rule is that persons defined as "residents of Israel" who lapse in their national insurance and health insurance payments, and wish to begin receiving health services, must wait a "waiting period" of 2 months - after arrival in Israel - for every year of non-payment since 2001 before being entitled to health services. However, this waiting period may be redeemed by paying a set amount of NIS 8,550 for each person (can be paid from abroad), after which one may be entitled to health services 6 months later. In your case, you should clarify your status and your debt at the NII (you can write to btlfeed@nioi,gov,il, providing your ID numbers), and according to this information - as well as your planned date of return to Israel - you can decide on whether or not to pay the above amount It is paid by means of credit card through our web site: www.btl.gov.il
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Q: I left Israel in 1979 and have lived in the USA for the past 27 years. I am planning to return to Israel as soon as I can get health insurance. I am retired and I am getting my pension my health insurance from social security. I have owned an apartment in Netanya for the past 10 years.
Please let me how I can get health insurance in Israel, and how much it will cost me in order to qualify. I lived and worked in Israel since 1948 and served in the Israeli army for close to 4 years.
Please inform me how to handle this matter. Thank you. Joseph
A: A returning resident who returns to Israel after over two years abroad is not entitled to health services for a period of 2 months for every year he was out of the country since 2001. However, you may "redeem" this waiting period if you pay the amount of NIS 8,250 (a set amount, no matter what the length of the waiting period) to the NII six months before you return to Israel. In that case, you will be entitled to health services immediately upon your arrival in Israel.
You may pay this amount through our internet site www.btl.gov.il (where you will also find detailed explanations for returning residents).
Q: I made aliya three weeks ago and went through Nefesh B' Nefesh, which has been such a smooth absorption thus far. I've run into a huge problem with Bituah Leumi and receiving health insurance. I'm a child of an Israeli and American, and although I was born in the States... when I came and studied here for my first year in college I was forced into getting my passport in order to get army deferment. Now that I made aliya, Bituah Leumi is telling me that I made aliya when I was given my passport and that I must wait eight months before receiving any kind of insurance - although my Teudat Oleh says I made aliya three weeks ago... I feel like I'm being denied my rights as a new oleh. What can I do about this, other than show up at Bituah Leumi everyday until they give me health insurance?
A: A person born abroad (outside of Israel) to an Israeli citizen is entitled to health insurance in Israel without a waiting period. You have to contact the Ministry of Absorption and ask them for a verification that you are recognized as a citizen-immigrant, and bring this document to Bituah Leumi.
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Q: My three children (10, 12 and 14-years-old.) and I made aliya in July 2000. How much haftachat hachnasah (income support) are we entitled to, and how much money am I allowed to earn monthly, without getting cut off by Bituah Leumi?
A: A person who fulfills all the conditions of entitlement to an income support (haftachat hachnasah) benefit receives a monthly benefit at a rate that depends on a number of factors, such as: age (under 55/ 55 or over), marital status, number of children, amount of income from various sources, whether he was previously entitled to the regular or to the increased rate of benefit, and more. Moreover, there is no one set amount of earned income above which all beneficiaries are disqualified from benefit. This too depends on a number of factors. You should contact your local NI branch, or the nationwide phone information center, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - giving your ID number, to receive an accurate reply based on your specific circumstances.
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Q: I would like to join my sister who lives in the US, and stay with her for at least two years. Will I continue to get the social security monthly payment, or will those payments be stopped?
A: I assume that you are referring to the old-age pension.
If you receive the old-age pension by virtue of your having worked and accumulated an insurance period, you will continue receiving the pension (to your bank account) when you are abroad, because there is an agreement to this effect between the United States and Israel. However, this agreement does not pertain to housewives.
In any case, you should notify your local NII branch of your plans to go abroad.
Q: We lived in Israel from 1991 till 2000, when my husband, my son and I immigrated to the US. We have returned our apartment to the Amigur company, eliminated the bank account, resigned from our work places, in short all official places knew that we are leaving the country.
Since then we have never been back, but the Bituah Leumi continued to send letters to our old address with demands that we are to pay the fee for medical insurance. At the same time they stopped sending monthly government child support for our son, and sent us a letter informing us that these transactions have stopped because our son is not in Israel. So the Bituah Leumi knows that we are not in Israel for the last 5.5 years, so on what basis they require us to pay medical insurance that we never used in all those years, and with the knowledge that we are not in the country?
A: Every person who is defined as an Israeli resident, even if he is living abroad, is obliged to pay national insurance and health insurance contributions. In this way, his social security and health insurance rights are preserved in the event that he returns to Israel. If you wish to cancel your status as an Israeli resident, you must apply to the National Insurance Institute (the local branch nearest to your previous place of residence) and request to do so.
NII child allowance payments are not paid for a child who lives abroad.
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