(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog approved a plan Monday to broaden the criteria for child disability benefits, allowing the inclusion of 4,350 children who have previously been denied help.
According to Herzog, the plan, which would require some NIS 75 million, will ease the financial burden of thousands of parents who have been providing their children with essential therapies and medical aids without governmental assistance. The parents have been battling with the National Insurance Institute for more than seven years to attain these benefits.
"This is an important decision. Many families struggle with this financial burden, which only serves to increase the emotional stress of caring for a child with disabilities," Herzog said.
More than 20,000 disabled children currently receive benefits according to the NII's standard medical criteria. Often, these criteria do not take into account certain types of disabilities if they are not extreme, a spokeswoman for the minister explained.
The plan, which was first recommended in 2000 by Hebrew University researcher Prof. Asher Ornoy, will broaden the eligibility to include an estimated 2,170 children with severe developmental disabilities, including mental retardation, and a further 2,180 children with certain chronic diseases not currently recognized as disabilities by the NII.
While the plan has yet to be approved by the Knesset's Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee and the Finance Ministry, Herzog's spokeswoman said he was confident the changes would be made.