Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert 77862

Vol LIII: How long can my parents in law visit us in the USA without losing benefits? My mother in law is 59 and she receives Hashmalat Ahnasa and my father in law is 66 and receives Kizvat Zikna.

October 10, 2007 12:30
Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert 77862

bituah leumi 88. (photo credit: )


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Sarah Gargi is director of the Publications Department in Research and Planning Administration at the head office of the National Insurance Institute, Jerusalem.

If you are interested in receiving a free copy of "Your Rights at the National Insurance Institute" (in English), offering a concise description of social security programs, definitions, conditions of entitlement, and rates of payment, please email your request; include your name and mailing address.
Click here to send us your questions for Sarah, please include month and year of birth, year of immigration and marital status. NOTE: Sarah can only answer questions of a general nature. For specific cases, contact the Public Enquiries Dept. at, or call *6050. Make sure to supply your ID number. For general information see the NII web site most information is on the site in English as well.
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    * * * Vol LIII Q: I made Aliya in '78, became a citizen, served in the IDF for 9 1/2 yrs and left after 10 yrs. I am currently 70 and want to know my rights if I return to live in Israel. Also, health insurance is important; what are my current rights? I have been in the US almost 20 yrs since leaving. What are my rights on returning? A: I shall provide you with a general reply; I cannot examine your specific case. For a specific reply, you may contact the Division for Public Inquiries at tel. 02-6709070 or fax. 02-6525038 giving your ID number. 1) Insurance - Coverage in the National Insurance Institute of Israel is based on residence in Israel. A person who has left Israel and has been living abroad for many years is no longer considered an Israeli resident and therefore is not obliged to pay contributions nor is he eligible for benefits. When he returns, he may be considered a returning resident by the NII and thereby be again obliged to pay contributions and be eligible for benefits. In order to obtain this status, he should report to his local NII branch as soon as possible after arriving in Israel. Generally after 6 months of residence in Israel, he will be restored his "residency" status retroactively, and both his obligation to pay contributions and his eligibility for benefits will be restored retroactively (from his arrival in the country). 2) Health - A resident of Israel who returns to the country on March 1, 2003 or thereafter, following a period of absence of two consecutive years or longer (during which he did not pay health insurance contributions to the NII) is not entitled to receive health services from the sick funds in Israel for two months for every such year of absence since 2002. This is called the waiting period (maximum waiting period as of now is 14 months.) It is possible to redeem this waiting period by paying a one-time sum of NIS 8,730 by credit card, through the NII web site ( Six months after this payment is made, one is entitled to health services, so that if you make the payment 6 months before coming to Israel, you will be entitled to health services upon arrival. However, this is in theory only, because as mentioned above, you will have to report to your NII local branch and wait another 6 months before your Israeli residence is determined - and only then can you register at a sick fund. (If you have redeemed the waiting period, you should save receipts of medical expenses and may be entitled to reimbursement). Q: I'm inquiring about what seems a discrepancy between what you responded to someone else and to my own experience. I was born in Febr. 1938 in the US,  made aliya in 1976, am married, and have worked and made payments to NII all that time to the present day.     As I approached the age of 69, I received a letter from NII inviting me to come in to apply for my retirement pension. After about a month, I received a letter indicating that my income disqualified me from receiving pension payments; should return when a reach the age of 70 and reapply. My income, by the way, is not munificent: I teach p/t at a university and average around NIS 7,000 a month. In your response to another reader, however, you wrote as follows: "At the age of 68 and 8 months, you'll be entitled to the full old-age pension, irrespective of your income." What gives? A: The retirement age (age of entitlement to old-age pension, conditional on means test) varies according to month and year of birth, and is different for men and for women. The absolute age of entitlement to old-age pension(irrespective of income) varies according to month and year of birth - for women. For men, it is always 70. I assume that the other reader that you mention was a woman. Q: My mom made aliyah last year. She is 88 years old, is assisted by a Filapina, receives 15.5 hours; her American Social Security monthly is $1,000. Is she entitled to any old age benefits? A: A person who makes aliyah after the retirement age is not insured and not eligible for the regular old-age pension (which is not conditional on a means test) but only for a special old-age benefit, which is conditional on a means test. From the information that you provided me, it appears that your mother is not eligible for this benefit. For a more specific reply, you may contact the Division for Public Inquiries at tel. 02-6709070 or fax. 02-6525038, giving her ID number - or contact the local NII branch. Q: Dear Sarah,could you please help me find out how long my parents in law could visit us in the USA without losing benefits? My mother in law is 59 years old and she is receiving Hashmalat Ahnasa and my father in law is 66 and he is receiving Kizvat Zikna. Thanks. A: Usually payment of benefit ceases after six months abroad. In any case, they should notify their local NII branch of their trip abroad. Q: I am a divorced father of two children. Until June of this year both the mother of my children and myself worked for HaMeshakem and received a small salary (abt. 1,200.00 shekels per month). In addition to the small salaries, we each received supplemental payments from bituach leumi. She has legal custody of our 11 yr old and I have legal custody of our 16 yr old (due to a situation that occured between the 16 yr old and her mother). In June I was forced to stop working at my job of 10 yrs. due to a back injury which I believe will require surgery. If after surgery I am able to work a regular job without bituach leumi supplemental payments, how will my salary be affected by the fact that the children's mother still receives bituach leumi? Bearing in mind that I must still support myself and our 16 yr old. A: In order to receive an income support benefit or income supplement, the income of the claimant and spouse must be lower than a minimum level determined in the law. Since you are divorced, your eligibility for income supplement is conditional only on your income and not on that of your ex-wife - and this was the case before your injury as well. Therefore, the fact that your ex-wife receives as NII benefit should not influence your own income supplement. If your capacity to earn a living after the injury is reduced as a result of the injury you may be eligible for a general disability pension. You can find a claims form for this pension on the NII site: Q: I was told by Bituach Leumi in Jerusalem that each branch decides on when to grant residency to returning residents. I registered in Nahariyya, but if this is true I want to change to the Bituach Leumi branch in Maalot which is closer to where I live. Also, if I am already working and paying Butach Briut and Bituach Leimi, why do I still need to wait one year before being covered. I am 61. A: As a general rule, it takes the NII 6 months to grant residency to returning residents, in all branches, although there may be some room for exceptions. This has nothing to do with the age of the returning resident. Maalot is a small sub-branch of the Nahariyya main local branch, and I doubt that there is any difference of policy between the two. You don't mention whether or not you paid the one-time payment to the NII that redeems the waiting period for health services for returning residents. Six months after this payment is made one is eligble for health services. If you didn't make this payment, you are required to wait 2 months for every year abroad (since 2001) before being eligible for health services. The year of waiting that you mention is apparently a combination of the 6-month waiting period for residency with the waiting period for health services. You can check your specific case with your local branch or with the Division for Public Inquiries at tel. 02-6709070 or fax. 02-6525038, providing your ID number - to ascertain when exactly you will be able to register in a sick fund and whether you may be eligible for reimbursement of medical expenses. Vol LII Q: I made aliya at the age of 61 and my late husband was 79. As we had Swiss retirement pensions we were told we were not entitled to Bituach Leumi pensions. In the bilateral agreement, Israel and Switzerland it is written that our status regarding benefits is equal to that of Bituach Leumi recipients. But, I did not get the survivors death grant (would have got it in Switzerland) and I have been refused the arnona reduction. Also am I entitled to Bituach Leumi at my age (69) without a means test? A: A person who immigrates to Israel after a certain age, as determined by law, is not eligible for the regular old-age pension. You don't say what year you immigrated to Israel, but assumingly at the time the cut-off age was 60. You will therefore not be eligible for the regular old-age pension at any age, but rather only for the special old-age benefit, which is conditional on a means test. Q: Ms. Sarah, I read your replies to people's questions in Jerusalem Post and decided to use this opportunity to ask you for advice. I would like to find about my status in Israel at the present time. Please, let me tell you my story. My name is Hirsh Lat. I was born in Riga Latvia Sep.15/1948 (former USSR). I came to Israel in December 1973 or January 1974 (sorry I don't remember. After ulpan in Kiriyat Elieser in Haifa I went to Technion and in 1979 joint Soltam in Yoknam. In March 1983 I left Israel. During this time I served in the Army, got married, got son Ichack (born 1976) and got divorced. According to divorce agreement I left everything to my ex-wife: Apartment and everything what was inside. She never worked (it was me having day job and part time job in the evenings), but I agreed to settle for reduced alimony payments. Soon after I left Israel she applied to the court that she needs more money and in my absence court agreed. She started to get support from Bituach Leumi. Meanwhile it was me who was supporting my son throughout school, Technion, vacations abroad, ext. (I do not regret - it is my son and I love him). So, the question for me is, after 24 years where do I stand in Israel now? A: Since you left Israel about 24 years ago, you are no longer considered an Israeli resident. If you decide to return, you should report to the NII local branch nearest to your place of residence, and request to re-instate your Israeli residency status. This takes 6 months. There is also a waiting period for returning residents (after 2 years abroad) to receive health services - 2 months for every year abroad since 2002. The waiting period can be redeemed by paying a one-time payment to the NII through our web site: Further information can be found on the site. Q: I pay my ex-wife child support via Bituach Leumi. I pay NIS 2,800 per month, & my ex-wife receives from them NIS 2,200 per month. Part of the NIS 600 which makes up the difference goes to a previous debt of mine. However, I figured out that only about NIS 115 is subtracted for that debt. What is happening to the rest of my money? A: I inquired at the Alimony Department, and was told that if an ex-husband pays the NII regularly and on time, every shekel goes to his ex-wife. If he has a debt, the difference between what he pays and what she is paid is entirely taken to pay off that debt. Each case has a separate account at the NII. If you still have a specific question, you should contact your local NII branch, providing your ID number. Q: Shalom, I am retiring from Keren Hayesod at the age of 65 in November, a forced retirement as is required by the Jewish Agency. Why would I have to wait until later to receive retirement benefits from Bituach Leumi and continue paying when it is a forced retirement because I am 65. A: The pensionary system in Israel is a two-tier system, the first tier consisting of the NII old-age pension, a universal and basic pension, and the second tier consisting of the occupational pension, a pension varying in amount according to one's work and income history. Receipt of old-age pension from the NII is not connected with actual retirement from work, but rather with the person's age, as opposed to one's pension from work. Q: Greetings, I am a pensioner and I rent an apartment in Netanya, from an owner who pays the electricity bill and then I pay him. I have a lease with him and that will be extended for another one (1) year. Do I qualify for electricity discount? A: Pensioners who receive an income supplement (in addition to their basic old-age pension) from the NII may be entitled to an electricity discount. You can check your eligibility at your local NII branch, providing your ID number. Q: I was born in 1946, and made aliyah in 1978. I am still working, part time, and my salary is well under the "ceiling". I believe I am entitled to get old age allowance from age 61 and 8 months--is this correct? Do I need to apply to BL or will it be paid into my bank account automatically? I have to spend NIS 600 a month on chronic medications (even with kupat cholim discount). Is there any way to receive additional aid from BL? Thanks. A: If you were born from January to August 1946, the age of your entitlement to an old-age pension from the NII (also called retirement age, conditional on a means test) is 61 and 4 months. If you were born from September to December 1946, this age is 61 and 8 months. You should be getting a letter from the NII, but you can apply on your own (forms can be downloaded from our site: There are certain increments that may be paid to the pension: a dependents' increment (paid for a spouse who doesn't receive a pension), a seniority increment (paid to a person who has over 10 years' insurance), a deferred retirement increment (paid for the years between the retirement age and the absolute age of entitlement to old-age pension, in which the person was not eligible for a pension due to earned income), and an income supplement (paid to low-income pension recipients). More and detailed information can be found on our site: Q: I recently made Aliyah in 2004. I have been working for the past three years with money being taken out for my pension. How long must I work to draw a pension? Also, generally, what is the amount based on (years worked plus amount made?) or is there a minimum? Thank you. A: The "qualifying period" (insurance period) required for receiving an NII old-age pension is 60 insurance months within the last 10 years preceding pensionable age. The amount is a basic amount for all pensioners; however, there is an increment for persons who have accumulated over 10 years' insurance. You can find more and detailed information on our site: Send your comments >> Cafe Oleh experts have been chosen for their knowledge and reputation. Cafe Oleh does not take responsibility for any advice they offer.
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