Gov't to boost welfare packages for disabled

By
January 8, 2012 05:29

National Insurance Institute will increase the total welfare budget for people with disabilities by some NIS 200 million.

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Handicapped sign

Handicapped sign 311. (photo credit:courtesy)

The overall welfare package for people and children with disabilities will get a boost in the coming months after an agreement reached this week between rights organizations that represent the disabled and the government.

Under the new agreement, announced Saturday, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry together with the National Insurance Institute will increase the total welfare budget for people with disabilities by some NIS 200 million.

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The agreement comes after fierce protests in October 2010 by hundreds of people with disabilities, angry over the government’s failure to increase disability allowances and improve other welfare benefits for more than nine years.

According to information from the disability-rights organization, close to 200,000 people receive full disability benefits, which amounts to less than NIS 2,400 a month. The community called for this to be increased at least to the minimum wage, which is NIS 4,100 a month, and asked for reductions in their utility bills.

In light of the grievances aired during those protests, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed a panel headed by National Insurance Institute directorgeneral Esther Dominissini and made up of representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Treasury and NGOs representing people with disabilities.

“We have achieved a substantial budget increase in order to improve the lives of people with disabilities,” commented Dominissini in a statement released to the media Saturday.

“This is a population with severe and complex disabilities and special attention must be given to them.”

Dominissini also said that the panel had recognized the emotional economic burden imposed on families of children with severe disabilities.

Included among the new benefits will be a 28 percent increase or NIS 593 rise in the monthly package for some 4,800 parents of children with severe disabilities. The rise will come in stages over the next two years, raising the monthly stipend to NIS 2,860 in 2012 and NIS 3,072 in 2013.

In addition, adults with severe mental or emotional disabilities – roughly 11,000 people – will see a rise of NIS 244 a month and there will be a one-time compensation pay-out for people with severe disabilities who are recipients of special services.

“These benefits are an important development for the disabled population in Israel and will improve their quality of life,” said Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon.

He added that he planned to also push through legislation that would further improve their quality of life and highlighted that certain social welfare services would be boosted in order to better accommodate the disabled population.

Those changes include adding 1,000 new placements for children with disabilities in ministry-run after-school programs. This would allow children to stay in an official framework until at least 4 p.m. and therefore easing the burden on parents.

Also, children whose disability is so severe that they cannot attend programs outside the home will be eligible for a caregiver for up to eight hours a day or a total of 40 hours a week, allowing parents to join the workforce.

Finally, agreements were also reached between the parties to offer subsidies for electricity and public housing.

“The benefits we have achieved so far are not the final word,” said Kahlon.

“We will continue to improve the standard of living for people with disabilities, as well as for all disadvantaged groups in our society.”

“This is not only our mission but also our moral and social responsibility,” he concluded.

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