Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert 53444

Vol XLVIII: My husband never worked in Israel, but has been paying the minimal Bituah Leumi payments since 1983. Will his Kupat Cholim be available in August?

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.
  • For Vols XL to XLIVclick here.
    * * * XLVIII Q: My husband, born in January 1960, made aliya as a child with his family in September 1970. He grew up in Israel, completed army service and due to a family illness, went to the USA for university in 1983. He never worked in Israel, but has been paying the minimal Bituah Leumi payments all these years, as billed. His Kupat Cholim apparently still has him listed (based on a phone call to them). Bituah Leumi has sent letters indicating they'd like to refund an amount that exceeds the 8,730, but my husband does not have an Israeli account to receive the money and anyhow, Bituah Leumi keeps sending the payment vouchers. We expect to arrive in Israel, to live, in August 2007. Will my husband's Kupat Cholim be available immediately? A: Any person who leaves Israel for a lengthy period, such as your husband, ceases being considered an Israeli resident. Therefore, his health insurance will not be available immediately; he will have to wait the waiting period, or redeem it through a one time-payment. Details on our site: Q: I am an Israeli citizen who was born and brought up in the USA. I spent 2002-2003 living in Israel. I am considered toshav chozer. My wife is a Romanian citizen, who was considered a new immigrant, olah chadashah, in 2002-2003 and was granted an Israeli travel document. We just had a baby boy. We are currently living in the USA. If we were to return to Israel within the next 5 years, would international health insurance or overseas health insurance for American expats cover us while we are waiting to receive coverage by Israeli health insurance? A: I can't answer you regarding international or overseas health insurance - you would have to clarify that with each particular insurance company. You can also get private health insurance here in Israel during the waiting period, either through one of the kupot holim (sick funds) or a private insurance company. * * * Vol XLVII Q: My wife and I are planning aliya for next year to join my daughter in Israel. I am permanently 100% disabled, though I am ambulatory. Since I cannot work and my only income in the USA is Social Security Disability and NY State disability can I get Bituah Leumi at 65? I am now 55 and will make aliya before my 57th birthday. A: Regarding the old-age pension: you will be entitled to an old-age pension from the National Insurance Institute upon reaching the absolute age of entitlement (70, in your case), with no connection to your disability. At retirement age (67), your eligibility for pension is conditional on a means test; you should apply at that age, and may possibly be entitled to a partial pension. When you arrive in Israel, you should submit a claim for a disability pension from the NII. If your claim is approved and you begin receiving this pension, then your old-age pension, when you begin receiving it, will be of the (higher) rate of the disability pension. Q: Please note that I was born in October 1974. I immigrated to Israel in December 1996 and lived in Israel continuously until 2004. I am single. In 2004 my company sent me to our UK branch where I worked until April 2006. During that time I was receiving salary in Israel and my employer paid all taxes, NII and health insurance. In April 2006, I relocated to the UK, I resigned from my Israeli company and was employed by the UK office. I paid all NII contributions by myself for the year of 2006. And now, after I have extended my visa and contract for next 4 years, I am in doubt if I have to continue to pay NII. I don't want to breach Israeli legislation in respect to National Insurance and therefore, please confirm if my following understandings are correct: 1. I have to pay NII contributions the whole time I live abroad, or maximum 5 years (when I lose status of Israeli residence status). 2. Should I stop paying NII after losing Israeli residence status? 3. Will I be reimbursed of NII contribution paid in course of 5 years if I continue to live abroad? 4. I understand that Israel and the UK have mutual agreement in respect of NII contributions; if correct, what documents do I need to present to Bituah Leumi to reduce NII payments? 5. If in any way I decide to stop paying NII contributions, then after my return to Israel I will need to wait 2 months for each year abroad or max 18 months. I will be able to reduce this period to 6 months only against payment of about NIS 8,730. 6. Are the same rules applicable for Israelis living abroad more and less than 5 years? Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance. A: 1. Correct. 2. Yes. 3. Yes. 4. Correct. You can ask the Pension Service, International Service, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, or the Inland Revenue, Centre for Non-Residents in Newcastle upon Tyne - the competent institutions in England. (it is not a matter of reducing payments, but rather of avoiding double payments) 5. It is not a matter of reducing the waiting period (which is waited out in Israel), but rather of redeeming it altogether by paying this amount 6 months before you arrive. 6. Yes. Q: I have been in the States for over 20 years. This July I'm moving back to Israel. I understand that I can redeem my waiting period with a one-time payment of NIS 8,730. When I went to the website I put in all my information but the site refuses my credit card since it does not accept tashlumim. I don't care about the six payments. I'm happy to make a single payment for the whole thing but that doesn't seem possible through the website. Given all this, upon my arrival in Israel can I simply make the redemption payment at the Bituah Leumi office? A: Perhaps you didn't understand the reason your credit card was not accepted. The payment is in one payment only. If you are moving here in July, you should consider whether it is worth it for you to redeem the waiting period at this cost. If you pay now, you will be entitled to health services only at the end of October. It is generally advised to make the payment six months before immigration to Israel, in which case one is entitled to health services immediately upon arrival. As to your question, yes, it is possible to pay here as well. Q: Dear Sarah- Can you please advise - I made aliya in September 2005, started working in Israel in December 2006 - expecting to give birth, B"H, in July 2007. What benefits do I receive from Bituah Leumi in terms of maternal leave, etc? Does that depend whether I do or do not expect to return to my job after giving birth? Thanks. A: Every working woman who gives birth is entitled to a 12-week maternity leave, under labor legislation (with no connection to Bituah Leumi). The NII provides a lump-sum maternity grant to every woman who gives birth, plus a maternity allowance to working women who have completed a qualifying period (of work, and payment of NII contributions) up to the determining date (the date on which she ceases working - generally - but not necessarily - the day of the birth). The full allowance (for a period of 12 weeks) is paid to women who have a qualifying period of 10 out of the 14 months preceding the determining date, and a partial allowance (for a period of 6 weeks) is paid to women who have a qualifying period of 6 out of 14 months. As far as I can see, you will be entitled to the partial allowance. * * * Vol XLVI Q: Dear Sarah, I was born in April 1978 and made aliya in December 2005. I have two questions about Bituach Leumi. 1. From September 2006 to February 2007, I was unemployed. What are my obligations for Bituah Leumi? 2. In mid-2007, I plan to leave Israel. What do I do about Bituach Leumi so I can stop my payments? Thanks for the help. A: Persons who are unemployed must pay the minimal national insurance contributions. You should go to the NII local branch nearest to your place of residence in order to clarify how much you owe the NII (you can request to cancel fines and linkage) and also in order to notify the NII that you are leaving the country. If you are leaving temporarily and planning to return, you should arrange to pay your NII health and national insurance contributions regularly, so as to ensure your rights when you return to the country. Q: Hello, my wife and I are Israelis. My wife was 8 years abroad and now she wants to come back to Israel, they told her she won t have Bituah Leumi, but she needs it. What can we do? There is an agreement between French and Israeli Bituah Leumi on this subject. My wife and I have dual citizenship and we are covered in France; what should we do? That problem prevents us from living in Israel. A: The bilateral social security agreement between Israel and France prevents double payment of insurance contributions for persons sent by their employer to work in the other country, as well as for diplomats and the like. It also ensures that Israeli and French citizens moving from one country to the other can receive their benefit in their country of residence. It does not, however, allow for a person abroad for 8 years (who has therefore lost her Israeli residence status) to be automatically entitled to NII benefits upon return to Israel. When she returns, she will have a 2-month waiting period to receive health services for every year out of the country since 2001 - that is, a maximum 12-month waiting period. This waiting period can be redeemed by paying a one-time payment of NIS 8,730 by credit card, through our internet site ( 6 months before returning to Israel, in which case she will be entitled to health services immediately upon arrival. However, she must report immediately upon her arrival to the closest NII branch, and then it will take another 6 months to determine her Israeli residence (with the ensuing NII rights and obligations). This will be determined retroactively, and in the meantime, she will have to pay for health services, save the receipts, and be reimbursed later. Q: Could you please help me with the following: I employ an ozeret for 5 hours each week. She has worked for me for 17 years. Could you please tell me how many days a year vacation time she is entitled to and if there are any other benefits which I am obligated to supply. A: Vacation pay and other benefits are not in the realm of the National Insurance Institute. You do have to pay national and health insurance contributions for her. If you haven't been paying these, check with your nearest NII branch as to how much and how to pay. Q: I have now finished working, and our combined income from both my husband's pension from work and both Betuah pensions now falls below NIS 4,500 a month. We have now applied for our UK pensions to be brought to Israel. This will bring our combined income to around NIS 8,000 a month. My husband owns a car and it is in his name. I do not drive. Since my income has now greatly decreased, do I now qualify for an increment in my Betuah Leumi retirement pension, and are our UK pensions and the fact that my husband owns a car taken into account? If applying, do we have to report each and every savings scheme we have? Many thanks for any help you can give. A: A person whose income from work or from any other source (such as the NII old-age pension) is lower than the minimum level for subsistence, as determined in the law, may be eligible for an income supplement. Conditions of eligibility for income supplement must be fulfilled by the couple - both claimant and spouse. The determining sum for a couple today is just over NIS 4,000, so I doubt that you would be eligible. Until January 2007, possession of a car generally ruled out eligibility for an income support or income supplement. Since that date, a car does not necessarily rule out eligibility - depending on income and if the car is up to 1300 cc and at least 7 years old, or up to 1600 cc and at least 12 years old. You may try to apply all the same (see form for income supplement under "old-age" at our web site:, submitting all the relevant financial and other documents. * * * Vol XLV Q: I recently started filing income tax in Israel because of the new tax reform here. So far, I back-filed for the years 2003-2004. All my income comes from US passive sources (mostly real estate investments). A short time after I filed these tax reports, I received a bill from the Israeli Bituah Leumi that also wanted payment on the tax years 2003-2004. I think in the US there are no social security payments on such passive income, so I wrote and requested to cancel this bill. But the Bituah Leumi here insisted income from such passive sources is also taxable, so I paid the bill. Now I found an old letter from TRAC (Tax Reform Action Committee of the Association of American and Canadians in Israel) that says it was not the intention of the Finance Ministry that passive income would be taxable by the Bituah Leumi. Also, they state that there was even a moratorium in 2003 on Bituah Leumi payments on such passive income. Could you send me the Hebrew statement of this moratorium and what are the current laws for Bituah Leumi in handling passive US income? Could you help me get my payment back from Bituah Leumi that I paid on this passive income? Thanks A: If your passive income is lower than your income from work, then you are exempt from payment of NII contributions on this income. If, however, the passive income is your sole or main source of income, then you are obligated to pay NII contributions on it (see Regulations 14 and 15 to the National Insurance Law - payment of insurance contributions). Q: Our 30 year old daughter is shortly returning from Britain with their two children aged 1 and a half and 3. Her husband (who still needs to make aliya) will return about a month later, after closing up details. They met here and went there to marry, PLANNING to return after a year. He is an artist and was given an opportunity to work there that would give him invaluable experience. The one year turned into 5. Their children were born and both have gotten Israeli citizenship. We continued to pay Bituach Leumi and Misrad h'briut. She was diagnosed with post partum depression in June and was hospitalized for a period. She has not improved and the doctors now say that it is situational and that they must return home for her to thrive (she has never liked England!). I have just found out about the 2 year limit on living outside and the penalty of not receiving kupot holim care, although we kept up payments! My two questions are:
  • Can we appeal, and if so, where exactly and how? (we are in Jerusalem, but they plan to live in the Ra'anana/Kfar Saba area after the first month of staying with us)
  • Will this affect the children's Kupot Holim as well?? Thank you! A: This is a link to a form which your daughter should fill out and send to the local NII branch near her last place of residence in Israel. The form will help the NII to determine her residence status - whether or not she has lost her Israeli residence status because of the period spent abroad (5 years is more or less borderline). If her status as an Israeli resident was cancelled at a certain point in time, then from that point on, you will get your payments back. In that case, when she comes to Israel she will have a waiting period of 2 months for every year abroad, in order to be entitled to health services. You can redeem this waiting period by paying a one-time sum of NIS 8,730 by credit card, through our internet site ( six months before she comes. (Six months after payment, one is entitled to health services). However, she will still have to wait another six months for the NII to determine that her life is centered in Israel and that she is therefore an Israeli resident - during which time she can't register in a sick fund, but she should keep medical receipts and will be refunded for medical expenses. If, on the other hand, she has not lost her Israeli residence status, then she will be entitled to health services immediately upon arrival in Israel. In any case, her husband and children will be entitled to health services immediately upon arrival in Israel. 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.
    Cafe Oleh is the place where you can join in and be published. To send us your comments, article ideas, suggestions and community listings, click here. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive listings and calendar services.