Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert

Vol XLIV: Will my pension be reinstated when I return to live in Israel?

bituah leumi 88 (photo credit: )
bituah leumi 88
(photo credit: )
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 08-9369696 or 08-6509999. 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.
  • For Red Tape resources click here.
  • For Vols I to XIII click here.
  • For Vols XIV to XXX click here.
  • For Vols XXXI to XXXIX click here.
    Vol XLIV Q: My wife and I are returning to Israel at the end of Nov. We have been out of the country since 1996. We were told that we could get health insurance when we return. It was also explained we would have to pay and wait for 6 months before we could get service or pay ahead of time and receive services when we arrive. How do I find out when and how to pay ahead of time? My birth date is April 2.1946 and I got my citizenship in 1990. A: Whoever is out of the country for over two years (like yourselves), and decides to return, has a waiting period for eligibility for health services. This waiting period is 2 months for every year of absence from the country since 2001 (when the regulations came into effect). The waiting period can be redeemed by paying a one-time payment of NIS 8,550 (per person) through our internet site (; Six months after payment, one is entitled to health services (so that if you pay 6 months before coming to Israel, you'll be entitled upon arrival). However, after you arrive in Israel, you still have to prove residence (at your local NII branch), which may take another 6 months (after which your residence will be affirmed retroactively). In practice, therefore, even if you are entitled to health services from the day of your arrival, you will not yet be able to register in a sick fund; rather, you should save all medical receipts and become reimbursed after your residence is affirmed. Q: I am an olah (immigrated in June 1999) and I have been out of Israel for 5 years. Bituach Leumi wants to refund my payments. I don't speak Hebrew very well. Can I write them a letter in English? I have tried to get their English website up, but so far it is unavailable...What is their address in Israel? If I take this money will they try to make me pay it again if I move back to Israel? Thanks. A: It is okay if they refund your payments. It means that you are no longer considered an Israeli resident. In any case, if you move back to Israel, you will be considered a returning resident and will have to prove your new status at the nearest NII local branch. You won't have to pay any back payments, only ongoing payments from the time of your arrival. You can write a letter in English (if you can't get somebody to help you with the Hebrew) to the Insurance Dept., National Insurance Institute, 13 Weizman Blvd, Jerusalem, Israel. Q: We made aliya from the USA in 1984 as a family. However, I (born 8/6/45) was a temporary resident in Israel from 1965-1969, was single, worked steadily and paid bituah leumi. I would like these contributions to apply to my work record here, thereby increasing my kitzvat zikna maybe. Bituah leumi told me to get an ishur from misrad hapnim for the 1960s period. Would that help? A: The amount of the basic old-age pension from the NII is uniform to all, irrespective of the number of years of work. Entitlement to the pension is conditional on a certain work (or qualifying) period: 60 insurance months within the last 10 years preceding pensionable age, or 144 insurance months, not necessarily consecutive. Housewives are not required to accumulate a qualifying period. Q: I worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz in 1974, and was injured in a work accident, resulting in disability assessed as 100% for Bituach Leumi pension. I receive a monthly pension based on the 100% level of disability and the pay I received at the time, plus a special pension. The pension is paid to me in Australia. For many years I had no information on the structure of the payments, but with the internet I found that it was based on an "Employee (injured up to Dec. 31, 1994)" amount. The English language site I believe is no longer active, and I have, with limited Ivrit, tried to read the current Hebrew site. I can't find a reference to pre and post 1994. In the 4th paragraph it mentions only the amount of 27,150 NS. My total amount of pension has always been about 75% of the (English language page) pre-1994 amount and hasn't changed. Should it have changed to an amount based on the 27,150? A: Volunteers' benefits are provided according to the rates of work injury benefits; that is, based on degree of medical disability and previous wages. However, there is a ceiling: the maximum monthly benefit as of January 2006 is NIS 27,150, and NIS 16,290 for a person injured prior to January 1, 1995. The benefits are updated on January 1st of every year; previously, this updating was according to the average wage, and as of January 2006, the updating is according to a basic amount. The rate of adjustment in January 2006 was 2.7%. Q: I have been living overseas with my husband for the past 3 years. He is working in the UK. We have a home in Israel and intend returning to it when my husband retires in about 3 years time. My Israeli pension was stopped around 2 years ago. I would like to know if my pension will be reinstated when I return to live in Israel. A Yes, the old-age pension is paid to all Israeli residents; when you return to Israel, you will need to report to the NII branch nearest to your place of residence, and fill out a form for determining residence. You will be asked to bring documents (such as contract proving ownership of an apartment) showing that your life centers in Israel, and it generally takes 6 months before residence is affirmed. Q: I've been working part-time for the same employer with permanent part-time hours for the past three years, paying betuach leumi. I'd like to know what are my rights with regard to sick days. A: Sick pay is not provided by the National Insurance Institute (Bituah Leumi), but rather by the employers under collective agreements. You can check with the Histadrut or worker's union at your workplace. * * * Vol XLIII Q: I have been separated for a year now and my husband does not pay me child support; I got married in a Catholic church and it is very difficult to get a divorce now. I don't know what to do; somebody told me that I could get from betuach leumi, if I show documents that I am separated. I have an Israeli I.D. Please advise me on what I should do; do I have any rights? A: There are a number of basic conditions for a woman to be entitled to alimony or child support payments through the National Insurance Institute. One of these conditions is that the woman must be in possession of a court verdict according to which her husband or partner is obligated to pay alimony or child support, but the woman does not enforce this verdict. Another condition is that both the woman and the person obligated are residents of Israel (more accurately, the person obligated was a resident of Israel on the day that the verdict was given or during 24 months out of the 48 months prior to the verdict date). If these conditions are met in your case, you should contact your local NII branch and apply for child support. Q: Shalom, I am an A5 holder, meaning a temporary resident, but I already have an I.D. - also temporary. I am 44 yrs. old and married to an Israeli guy for 4 yrs. The daughter of my woman 1 yr. ago paid my betuach leumi, but since she died June of 2005, I never pay of my betuach anymore. Until now I've had no permanent jobs. What is my situation then? I am not yet a citizen here, thank you. A: Housewives - married women not employed outside their households - are exempt from payment of national and health insurance contributions to the National Insurance Institute. Q: I am 58, made aliya in 1976 and lived in Israel for 2 years. Since then I have returned to Israel several times for various periods. The last period was from Jan. 2001 to Oct. 2002. I'm returning this Sept. for I hope up to a year. I want to be able to retire in Israel at least by age 65. 1) What do I need to check on regarding my status with NII? 2) For the years that I lived outside Israel do I owe payments to NII? A: 1) status and insurance contributions - If you were absent from Israel for over five years, it's probable that your status has been changed to that of "non-resident", which means that upon your return you will have to report to your local NII branch and request to be recognized again as an Israeli resident. (You can fill out a form for residence in advance, available on our site - In that case, you will not owe contributions, but will have to begin paying after arrival. (If you are entitled to old-age pension, NII contributions will be deducted from your pension.) If you were absent for a shorter period, you may be still defined as an Israeli resident, in which case you are obligated to pay contributions for all periods of non-payment. You can check your status by calling our national phone center at 08-9369696 or 08-6509999, giving your ID number. 2) old-age insurance - The retirement age (age of eligibility for NII old-age pension, conditional upon income) for you - for those born in 1942 or later - is 67. Another condition of eligibility for pension, in addition to age, is accumulation of a qualifying period during which you paid NII contributions, or payments were paid on your behalf by an employer. This qualifying period is 60 months out of the 10 years preceding pensionable age, or a total of 144 months. You can check your eligibility at the phone center. Q: I am a married male age 62. I have lived overseas for 6 years. I paid a total of 82 months bituach leumi when we lived in Israel. My wife is age 59. She paid a total of 80 months bituach leumi. We plan on returning to live in Israel again in 2 years time - by which time we won't have paid bituach leumi for 8 years altogether. Will our total contributing months be taken into account and will we still qualify for a pension? I hope so. Thank you. A: 1) insurance status and contributions - after an 8 years' absence from Israel, it is most likely that upon your return you will find that your status at the NII is that of a "non-resident" and you will have to report to your local NII branch and prove your residency here (you may fill out the relevant form in advance; it is available on our site - You will not have to pay contributions for the period abroad, but will have to begin paying once you're here. If you're entitled to an old-age pension, the contributions will be deducted from your pension. 2) old-age pension - There are two main conditions for this pension. a) age. For men born in May 1942 or after, the retirement age (age of eligibility for old-age pension, conditional on income) is 67. For women (not housewives) born from September 1946 till April 1947 it is 61 and 8 months; for women born from May 1947 till December 1949 it is 62. b) qualifying period, or period of payment of insurance contributions: 60 months within the last 10 years preceding pensionable age, or a total of 144 months - for each person separately. A housewife (woman resident of Israel who does not work outside her household) is exempt from the qualifying period, but she is required to have 5 years of residence out of the 10 years preceding the age of entitlement to pension (today 66), or a combination of periods of residence and periods of insurance as a worker. You can check your specific status at one of the national phone centers, giving your ID numbers: 08-9369696 or 08-6509999. Q: My husband is unemployed and I have a little part time job that is not consistent. A few months after we got married my husband stopped receiving his unemployment. It seems that the department thinks that I earn enough for both of us, when in fact I work maybe just 1 or 2 hours over the minimum - which is not sufficient for both of us. The number of hours I work each months depends on the customers, it's not something I choose; the company can't increase the hours (as the dept. has asked) because they are dependant on the customers. Because the number of hours I work each month are not the same, the dept. can't seem to work out a supplemental amount - so they just don't pay anything. (I had never even applied for anything - this all started with my husband not receiving his unemployment - and now it seems the onus is on me.) Every few days we get requests for more details (example - how much did I receive as a new immigrant - this information is freely available, it's no secret, it's published everywhere, and yet I had to go to the Absorption Center and get a letter proving that they only gave me the specified amount, bank statements and proof of deposits (tax refund from the first half of the year before I made aliya) etc etc) - by now there is nothing left to give them - they know everything about us. This has been going on since March (my husband has not received any money since then). After speaking to someone at the Absorption center today (I don't know where else to turn - there isn't anybody at the Labor department who can help) it seems the only solution is to give up my part time job and to become unemployed - that way the dept. will know what my monthly income will be and can then calculate a supplemental amount - either that or get divorced - that way I become a single person and so does my husband. The second option is not really viable - so it seems the only way to get around this long and extremely frustrating problem is to give up my part time job. Surely it's better to have a job - even if it is only a little part time one - than none at all? There must be a way around this - but I don't know who to ask, or how to get there - please can you guide me in the right direction? A: The unemployment benefit is a short-term benefit, paid by definition for a limited period (from 50 to 150 days, depending on the age of the unemployed person and his number of dependants), in order to enable the unemployed person to look for suitable work. You may be entitled to income supplement - if your combined income as a family is lower than the minimal income required for subsistence, as determined in the law - by means of the income support department at your local NII branch. I understand that you did submit a claim for an income supplement, but have not yet been notified whether your claim was approved or rejected. I will try to find out the situation on the claim, using your ID number, through out Public Enquiries Dept., and will get back to you. Q: Dear Sarah, Has Israel signed a social security convention with Austria? I am both a US and Israeli citizen, and recently I've been living and working in Austria. How is possible to use for pension 17 years of employment in Israel? I was born in August 1943 in USA, made aliya in 1975. I returned to the USA in 1992 after a divorce. A: There is a bilateral social security convention between Israel and Austria since December 1974. Under such conventions, one is exempt from double payment of insurance contributions. In the case of the Israel-Austria convention, for example, a resident of Israel who moves to Austria and works there is required to pay insurance contributions in only one of these countries, instead of both,as would generally be the case were there not a convention. Since, as I understand, you haven't been in Israel for 14 years, you are no longer considered an Israeli resident (unless you have been working for an Israeli employer while abroad). The years that you were here and paid insurance contributions to the NII insured you for the period that you were here, similarly to the case in private insurance. * * * Vol XLII Q: My wife and I are making aliya next year. I am a 55-year-old man who is permanently disabled, though ambulatory, and my wife is 52 and a teaching assistant for special needs children. My question is, even though my income is non-taxable insurance from Social Security and New York State Worker's compensation, can I sign for Bituah Leumi even though I cannot work and can my wife qualify for benefits if she works even part time in Israel? A: The regular NII disability pension is not conditional on an income test. A new immigrant can receive a disability pension from the NII after he has been in Israel for one year, if he meets all the other requirements. If he needs support before this period, he can apply to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. There is a special NII benefit for new immigrants, but only for those with a severe disability (persons dependent on the help of others for the performance of everyday functions). Eligibility for the income support benefit is conditional on an income test; the incomes of the claimant and spouse must be lower than a minimum level for subsistence determined in the law (in your case: NIS 4,024). Unemployment benefits are paid to persons who were employees for about a year and are out of work. An unemployed new immigrant who does not meet the criteria that would entitle him to unemployment benefit may receive a subsistence allowance from the Absorption Ministry if he has no other source of income and meets all other conditions for assistance. Q: I have been receiving disability for many years - my physical condition has gotten worse, yet after a visit to my home when I informed the nurse that I was living with a partner, Bituah Leumi nechut promptly reduced my allowance by NIS 1,400 saying I was no longer thought of as being alone. My partner is soon going to be 67; can he claim to be head of a family and therefore receive NIS l,600 instead of NIS 1,100? Or will Bituah Leumi reduce my allowance more? A: 1) The disability pension is not higher for a single person than for a couple. 2) Your partner is already at retirement age; that is, he is eligible for the old-age pension, dependent on an income test. 3) I can't answer your questions, since they are of a very specific nature. I suggest you write to our Public Enquiries Dept. at or call our national phone center at 08-9369696 or 08-6509999, giving your ID numbers. Q: I am divorced and my status is "Toshevet Chozeret." I work in the incoming tourist industry and expect to be laid off if the current situation does not improve very soon. I will have been employed only for 4 or 5 months. I have recently purchased an apartment but have no other financial resources. I used my savings to buy the apartment. I am 55 years old. I would like to know how much income support I might expect to receive if I am in fact laid off. Thank you for any help you can provide. A: In order to be entitled to unemployment benefit, you need a qualifying period (of work) of 360 days. A person not eligible for unemployment or any other benefit may be eligible for income support, if the family income is lower than the minimum determined necessary for subsistence. For a single person, this determining income is NIS 2,806. The rate of the income support benefit for a single person aged 55 or over is NIS 1,716. Q: My wife and I will be moving to Israel for one year. She was born in the USA but her mother was born in Israel, whereas I am just an American citizen. What can we do to obtain health insurance for the coming year? A: The State health insurance is for Israeli residents or new immigrants only, not for tourists. You would have to either extend your insurance from abroad or purchase private health insurance in Israel. Q: My husband has been unemployed for 3 years, and every year I fill out a form at the beginning of the year for my work and I check the box where it says my spouse is not employed. Last month, Bituah Leumi sent us a letter saying that he owes 3 years back pay (over NIS 6,000) or else they will double the fine. We paid it, but now want to contest it. Why is it that my friends who are stay-at-home moms get their Bituah Leumi paid for through their husbands' work, but my "stay-at-home husband" doesn't? Have I been paying his Bituah Leumi all along, or was there something else he needed to do? Thank you in advance. A:A married woman whose spouse is insured and who does not work outside her household is covered in Bituah Leumi (must have a certain number of years of residence). However, a man is required to pay national and health insurance contributions in order to be insured. If your husband received an unemployment or income support benefit for a certain period, then he does not have to pay insurance contributions for that period. However, for the rest of the period of his unemployment, if he did not work at all, he is obliged to pay. (If he worked, even part-time, the contributions are deducted from his salary; this is the obligation of the employer). When a debt accumulates, it is possible to ask for cancellation of fines and linkage before paying. However, it is best to pay regularly (it can be done through standing order, credit card, or using a paybook), so that a debt does not accumulate. * * * Vol XLI Q: I made aliya in 2002 but left Israel last year. I tried contacting bituach leumi to let them know, but I had a lot of difficulty getting through to someone, and when I did speak to someone I don't think they really understood me as my Hebrew is not so great and their English was quite bad too. So, I am not sure whether or not bituach leumi has been notified that I left the country or not. What should I do? Thanks for your help. A: Try writing to our Public Enquiries Department at or calling the phone center at 08-9369696, giving your ID number. Q: Dear Sarah, Short question: If I paid social security in Israel all my life, is there a way of receiving NII payments when I retire, in another country; Meaning retiring and living with my son outside of Israel? Many US citizens enjoy such privileges here in Israel when they retire. A: If you cease being a resident of Israel, you will not be entitled to any social security payments abroad (I assume you are talking about the United States, with which Israel has not signed a social security convention). Your payments of social security while in Israel insure you for benefits while in Israel. However, if you begin receiving your pension when in Israel, you may continue receiving it after you go abroad. If you want to verify that specifically in your case, you should contact the Public Enquiries Department, providing your ID number. Their address: You can also call the nationwide phone center: 08-9369696. Q:We are Israeli Citizens with a home in Israel. We have been living in the UK on and off for the past two years where my husband is working. During all that time my husband has paid his Israeli National Insurance. He is now 67, has not claimed any pension and intends to continue working in the UK on and off until the age of 70. He plans to continue paying Israeli National Insurance until he retires at the age of 70. We would like to make sure that he will receive his full Israeli Pension when he retires. Many thanks for your time. A:Yes, from the information you have given me, I can assume that your husband will be receiving his full pension from Israel when he retires. I would like to point out that there is a bliateral social security convention between Israel and the UK, so that one should not have to pay insurance contributions twice (in both countries). Therefore, since he is paying contributions to the UK social security (through his salary), he does not have to pay to the NII. If you want to verify that specifically in your case, you should contact the Public Enquiries Department, providing your husband's ID number. Their address: You can also call the nationwide phone center: 08-9369696. *** Vol XL Q: Dear Sara, I made aliya to Israel in August 2000 and left Israel back to Europe in Jan 2003. From Jan 2003 until Jan 2006 I was working and living in Europe (Germany and Belgium.) When I left Israel in 2003 I did not inform Bituach Leumi that I am leaving, because I did not know that I might have to. I came back to Israel in Jan 2006 and started looking for work here and decided that if I find I will stay. I started working again in Feb 2006 and have health insurance. Do I owe any money to Bituach Leumi for the time between Feb 2003 and Jan 2006, and how is this calculated and why? I did work abroad and pay all taxes and health insurance there and have proof of that. Thank you for your help. A: Since you left Israel less than five years ago, you are probably still defined as an Israeli resident and as such, are obligated to pay national and health insurance contributions on an ongoing basis. The fact that you worked abroad has no bearing on this. For a specific reply to your enquiry - in order to clarify exactly how much you owe and how you can pay it - I suggest that you call or write the National Insurance Institute, providing your ID number. You can phone the Jerusalem branch (02-6755555) or the phone information center (08-9369696) or send a message to: Q: I came to Israel in 1958. Born in October, 1944. I paid Bituah Leumi in full for all the years of my employment. I currently live in the USA, married to an American citizen. I would like to know to what payments am I entitled in Israel when I reach the age of 67 (the Bituah Leumi age, right?) and how would I collect them. Thank you very much for your help. A: If you left Israel over five years ago, you no longer have the status of an Israeli resident. The bituah leumi contributions that you paid while in Israel provided you with social security coverage while you were in Israel and not for the period after you left. If you return and are reinstated as an Israeli resident, you will be again obligated to pay national and health insurance contributions. Today the retirement age - or age of eligibility for old-age pension, conditional on income test - for a man born in October 1944 is 67. However, in your case, if you immigrate to Israel at the age of 60 and 8 months or over, you will not be insured for the regular old-age pension, but will be eligible for the special old-age benefit - of the same rate as the pension, but conditional on a means test. The NII and health contributions, of a minimum level, will be deducted from the benefit. Q: I'm oleh haddash since September 2005, when I visited my advisor at sal klita for my rights, she told me I'm entitled to a pension when I reach retirement age. I'm currently 64; my confusion is based in literature I read prior to aliya, that the law was changed, that if you arrive to Israel after the age of 60 you don't get anything, it used to be after the age of 65. I know from what I heard in the states that the laws here change constantly. There is even a joke about it - The law was changed yeh it used to be. A: Under the Retirement Age Law, the retirement age - and consequently the age of entitlement to an old-age pension, conditional on an income test - is being gradually raised beginning in July 2004, until it eventually reaches 67 for men and 64 for women. The specific retirement age for each person therefore depends on his year and month of birth. (Previous to the law, it was 65 for men and 60 for women.) Furthermore, under the new law, the age of immigration for purposes of defining who is insured was also raised, and at present, a person who immigrates at age 60 to 62 (depending on year and month of birth) or older, is not insured and therefore not eligible for the regular old-age pension, but rather for the special old-age benefit. This is actually of the same rate as the pension, but is conditonal on a means test. Since you immigrated after this age, you are eligible for this special old-age benefit. 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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