Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Over NIS 1.5b in National Insurance Institute payments remain unclaimed, leading Knesset State Control Committee chairwoman Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) to call on Monday for the NII to better inform those who are entitled.
“The public has to get the money it deserves and that is the NII’s full responsibility,” Elharar said at a meeting she called to discuss the unclaimed funds. “The NII must initiate contact with those entitled and not wait for them.”
The poorest populations who need the NII’s help most are least likely to exercise their rights, Elharar pointed out.
Elharar also said that in 2009-2010 alone, the NII collected an extra NIS 80m. from the public. Another NIS 35m. were not given to new mothers who were eligible for it and NIS 100m. were not transferred to eligible unemployed people.
“Even those who know their rights have trouble collecting the funds, because of long lines or because the forms are difficult to understand and fill out,” Benny Goldman, editor of the Comptroller’s report on the NII, said.
MK Danny Atar (Zionist Union) lamented that the more a person needs the NII’s help, the harder it is for he or she to get it, and, as such, the NII must take initiative.
MK Osama Saadi (Joint List) said parts of the NII website are not translated to Arabic, even though Arabs are among the poorest population groups in Israel.
NII Director-General Shlomo Mor-Yosef responded that allowing the public to get what it is entitled to is a top priority for the NII.
“We initiate action on the matter and will reach everyone who is entitled,” Mor-Yosef vowed. “Large and complex systems move slowly and our ‘Tevel’ initiative will recognize [funds] that citizens are entitled to and did not collect, and will notify them of it.”
Mor-Yosef added that not everyone the NII contacted took advantage of their entitlements, and that the NII investigates why those who have the right to funding for old age, unemployment and childbirth do not collect their allowances.
Other government offices described to the committee their efforts to spread information about entitlements.
Welfare Ministry Community Relations Department manager Nili Dror said the minister established hotlines and information centers in different languages and locations to help people learn their rights.
Ayelet Greenbaum of the Health Ministry described its hotline to help people exercise their rights to medical care and said that the ministry’s website is accessible for the visually impaired. In addition, the ministry is working on video chats for the hearing impaired.
Lt.-Col. Ofir Kabilo of the Reservists Branch of the IDF Manpower Directorate said the IDF has a website to inform people of their rights and sends text messages directly to reservists to tell them their rights.