Ask Sarah, the Bituah Leumi expert 81938

Vol LV: I lived in Israel from February 1968 to February 2004. I have paid my Bituach Leumi for the entire period + until March 2007. I am now living permanently overseas in Australia. What entitlements will I have on reaching pension age?

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 [email protected], 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 LV Q: I'm here on a A2 student visa and my wife has the A4 visa (wife of student). She has been in Israel for more than 6 months. Can she sign up for Bituach Leumi Health Insurance by herself without me, or do both of us have to sign up? A: Each person can sign up individually for health insurance. However, she has to make sure first that she is recognized as a resident by the NII. She should go to your local NII branch and ask to fill out a form for residency. Q: Shalom rav. My family (2 members) and I have lived in the USA for more than 7 years. We want to come back as toshavim hozrim and olim grurim zhuyot. I used to work in Israel as a physician in the" Soroka" hospital for 5 years. Now I have a question. What is happening with the Bituah briut? I got info that I have to pay off medical insurance for the whole period that I've been absent. If I don't have money for this, what should I do? May be is there some exclusion? Why should I pay money for what I didn't use. Thank you very much for expected cooperation. 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 (; Again. this is not payment of health contributions for the period of absence from Israel, but rather redemption of the waiting period. 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 be reimbursed after your residence is affirmed. Q: My mother (age 79), lived in Israel from 1991 til 2007, (she immigrated from former USSR). She came to visit me in the US (I'm her only child) this August and by the time she was supposed to go back, she didn't feel well, so she stayed with me. She raised me all alone, giving me everything, so I consider that now it's my turn to pay her back and take care of her. When it became clear that she can't go back to Israel, at least for now, we called Bituah Leumi in Rehovot several times and each time we received different information. One time we were told that my mother has a right ro receive payment of kitzvat zikna for 72 days after she left. According to another clerk, she would get more payments (till 6 months) but after 72 days without social addition. But now Bituah Leumi says that my mother shouldn't get any payment at all from the day she left and Bituah Leumi is going to recall back money they paid to her for August and September. My question is - what is the true information? We don't want to get money if she is not entitled to it, but I don't her to lose payments only because we don't know the law. Thank you. A: Entitlement to benefits from the National Insurance Institute is based on actual residency in Israel. Therefore, under the NII Law, the old-age pension may be paid abroad for only 6 months (I understand that your mother received an old-age pension plus income supplement - the income supplement is discontinued after 72 days). This is on assumption that the pension recipient is planning to return to Israel. When the person returns to Israel, s/he can continue to receive benefits. However, if it is clear that the person does not intend to return, then his residency status is revoked and he is not entitled to any benefits for the period of his stay abroad. If your mother does return to Israel, she can return as a returning resident and will be covered by the NII; if not, she should notify the NII and will be obligated to return the benefits that she recieved while abroad. Q: I will be 65 years old this February and have been working for a company for 15 years. Can they force me to retire at 65? Can I receive my retirement if I decide to take another job? A: Your retirement age - the age on which you will be eligible for an old-age pension from the NII, conditional on income - is 67. That is, if you take on another job and have an income, your pension may be reduced in accordance with your income. When you reach the age of 70, you will be entitled to an old-age pension regardless of your income. Whether or not your employer can force you to retire is a question of labor laws and agreements, with which I am not familiar. Q: I lived in Israel from February 1968 to February 2004. I have paid my Bituach Leumi for the entire period of living there + paid Bituach Leumi until March 2007. I am now an Israeli citizen living permanently overseas in Australia. What do I have to do to register as such and what entitlements will I have on reaching pension age? A: Unlike the case in other countries, entitlement to national insurance (social security) benefits in Israel is based on residence in the country, not on citizenship. Therefore, a person living abroad (with certain exceptions, such as if he was sent to work for an Israeli employer) forgoes his rights to NII benefits. One's payment of NII insurance contributions when in Israel covers one for the period of residence in Israel. When one continues to pay NII contributions abroad, this is to ensure continuity of rights until such time as the person returns to Israel. After about 5 years abroad, one is no longer considered an Israeli resident (and therefore not obligated to pay contribtuions, nor entitled to benefits), and can contact the NII and request the return of the money paid when abroad. Q: Hi, I am asking a question for a friend - she gets 100% disability benefits from bituach leumi, plus kitzvat nayadut and the additional benefits to help pay for a caretaker for her. Her two minor children who live with her are also disabled and chronically ill. They get 150% kitzvat nechut and kitzvat nayadut. Although this sounds like a lot, this only covers a fraction of keeping the two kids alive and much of what they live on; many of the experimental medications they need is covered by charity collected by friends. Disability benefits stop at retirement age. She's concerned about what happens when she reaches age 60. Will she suddenly lose her benefits and kitzvat nayadut? From a look at the NII website, even if she did qualify for a pension, it would hardly amount to a fraction of what the disability benefits are. A: At the age of 64, your friend will reach retirement age, which means that she may be entitled to the old-age pension from the NII, conditional on income. Her old-age pension will be of the same rate as her present disability pension. Persons are generally not entitled to the mobility allowance after retirement age, nor are they entitled to the attendance allowance, but on the other hand your friend may be eligible for a long-term care benefit after retirement age, if she is dependent on others for the performance of everyday activities. Q: Recently I received letters from BL and the electric company saying I qualify for a monthly discount on the electric bill. However, it seems this is possible only if the meter is on my name. I rent an old one-room tsrif in a moshav, and the landlord wants to keep the meter on his name. Is there any way out of this catch? A: The electricity discount to persons who receive an income support benefit or an income supplement is indeed possible only if the electric meter is in the recipient's name. If the landlord does not agree that the meter be in your name, even only temporarily, you will not be able to receive the discount. By the way, the discount is expected to be abolished altogether in the near future. Q: Until what age is one eligible for BL disability payments and are those payments reduced by other income? A: One is eligible for disability pension until retirement age (which varies for men and women, and depending on month and year of birth), after which one may receive the old-age pension at the rate of the disability pension. Since the disability pension is meant to compensate persons - whose capacity to earn a living is reduced due to his disability - for loss of income, the disability pension is reduced if the pension rceipient earns an income beyond a determined sum, according to his education level. Q: If a person who is entitled to BL after retirement spends more than six months in the US per year, what is his/her eligibility to receive his monthly payments? A: If you spend more than 6 months abroad (in the US), your entitlement to the old-age pension is generally ruled out, under the National Insurance Law. Before going abroad you should notify your local NII branch and be informed of how you can retain your rights in your specific case. Q: I have been on Haftachat Hachnasa for several years. As of July of this year I began receiving my American Social Security benefits (I am 65 as of this October.) I receive some 3200 shekels per month (or less, as the dollar's value sinks.) I requested hashlama and other benefits from Bituach Leumi, but was denied. What are my rights and what can I do? The social security benefits do not begin to cover expenses. A: The income support benefit is paid to a person who is not capable of providing for himself by means of income from work and who is not eligible for payment from any other source. It is meant as a "safety net" for persons with no income whatsoever and no earning capacity. At the age of 67, you'll be entitled to an old-age pension from the NII, conditional on income. * * * Vol LIV Q: Why is it that someone who has paid Bituach Leumi for more than 20 years while living in Israel, and for another 10 years while living in the US, is not entitled to social security payments if residing in the US? A: 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. Payments made to the NII while in Israel cover one for the period that he is living in Israel - similarly to the case with private insurance. If you paid the NII for 10 years when abroad, you may be entitled to get this money back. You should write to your local NII branch or to the Division of Public Inquiries at tel. 02-6709070 or fax. 02-6525038, giving your ID number. Q: My wife passed on in 1980. We were receiving family allowance for two children,aged 14 and 15. I then started receiving survivors pension until the time the youngest was 16 years. The survivors pension then stopped. On making an inquiry at the Rechovot office, a sum of money was deposited in my bank account. The statement I received from Bituach Leumi said it was a "mifraha" which in  translation means an advance payment. Not as I was told at the office a final payment! when I started to receive my old age pension,they refused to pay survivors pension, stating that I had accepted a final payment in lieu of any more payments. There is as far as I can see nothing in the regulations that even envisages such a thing even if requested. It means in the last 30 years a large amount of money has been withheld from me. Please give me your opinion. A: I can only give you a general reply. For a specific reply, you can contact the Division for Public Inquiries at tel. 02-6709070 or fax. 02-6525038. The survivors' pension is paid to a widower, defined as the husband of the insured woman at the time of her death, who had been married to her for at least a year (6 months for a man aged 55 or over) if he has a child by her living with him or has passed a means test. For a widower whose right to the survivors' pension has expired due to income, a one-time survivors' grant is paid, of an amount equivalent to 36 monthly pension payments. Furthermore, once a person who had received a survivors' pension begins to receives the old-age pension, he will receive the latter with the addition of 50% of the survivors' pension. From what I understand from your inquiry, you may have received the grant instead of the pension to which you are no longer entitled (due to a higher income) or to a reduced survivors' pension due to the payment of the old-age pension. To understand your specific case, you should contact the Division as above or your local branch, providing your ID number. Q: I was told that if I am not a citizen, in order to get bituach Leumi I need to have a student visa for 6 months. I have that. However my wife has not had her visa for 6 months, can she get Bituach Leumi via me? A: No, each person needs to accumulate the 6-month period on his/her own. Q: Our family made aliya in '94; myself, my husband and our (then) 12-year-old daughter.  Our 18-year-old stayed behind in college for 2 years and then made aliyah. She was here for about 2 years when she met her husband. They went to live in England for 5 years. (We are from America). A combination of too many culture changes and post partum depression has been devastating to her and they returned to Israel in May with our two grandchildren, now 2 and 4.  They have moved to Ra'anana, and our younger daughter (26) quit her waitressing job and moved in with them to help with the children, as their mom doesn't do too well on her own. That leaves me paying our younger daughter's bituach leumi and briut. I am sure that there must be some provision for families in crisis losing a salary to help each other, but I don't know how to go about it. People suggested that we see a social worker, but we could never find out how to do that! My income is 3,900 nis per month and my husband, who is self-employed, barely covers his shop expenses. We are both 62. Thank you.  A: There is no special NII benefit for families losing a salary to help each other. The two NII benefits that may be relevant for you are the old-age pension and the income support benefit. You may already be entitled to the old-age pension (your husband will be eligible at the age of 67). As a family, you may be entitled to an income supplement, paid to families whose income is lower than the minimum subsistence level determined in the law. You can find claims forms for both benefits on the NII 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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