Bituah Leumi expert: Fired while pregnant

Vol LXIV: I was recently let go from my position. I also found out that I was pregnant. What can I do?

bituah leumi 88 (photo credit: )
bituah leumi 88
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Sarah Gargi is director of the Publications Department in Research and Planning Administration at the head office of the National Insurance Institute, Jerusalem.
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    * * * Vol LXIV Q: My father made aliyah in 1965 and lived in Israel til 1972. Since then he's come for holidays once every number of years. He wants to come back to Israel. Since he left he hasn't paid anything to any state organization. He will be soon 66 years old. I would like to know if he is eligible to receive a pension (at 67 years old) in Israel and also after how long time he would be able to register again in a kupat holim. A: Old-age pension - The qualifying period (period of work during which insurance contributions are paid) for the old-age pension under NII Law is 5 years within the last 10 years preceding pensionable age, or 5 years if the number of insurance months is not less than the number of months without insurance, or 12 years altogether. From the information you gave me, your father has not accumulated any of these alternative qualifying periods and therefore will not be entitled to the pension. He is therefore eligible for what we call the special old-age benefit, at the same rate as the pension under law, but entitlement to this benefit is conditional on an income test. A claims form for this benefit may be found on our site: - and should be submitted together with the income authorizations indicated. Health - A resident of Israel who returns to the country on March 1, 2003 or thereafter, following a period of absence of two consecutive years or longer (during which he did not pay health insurance contributions to the NII) is not entitled to receive health services from the sick funds in Israel for two months for every such year of absence since 2002. This is called the waiting period (maximum waiting period as of now is 14 months.) It is possible to redeem this waiting period by paying a one-time sum of NIS 8,730 by credit card, through the NII web site ( Six months after this payment is made, one is entitled to health services, so that if your father makes the payment 6 months before coming to Israel, he will be entitled to health services upon arrival. However, this is in theory only, because he will have to report to his NII local branch - and should so as soon as possible after arriving in Israel, to determine his residency status - and wait another (generally) 6 months before his Israeli residence is determined - and only then can he register at a sick fund. (If he has redeemed the waiting period, he should save receipts of medical expenses and will be entitled to reimbursement). Q: After receiving his residency back, my husband's health rights were revoked because he made a trip to the US to visit his 90 year old parents. Is one NOT allowed to leave the country while waiting for health benefits? Where is this written? A: Under the National Insurance Law, only a person recognized as a resident is entitled to health services in Israel.Therefore a person who goes abroad for a lengthy period is liable to lose his residency status. Q: I am an Israeli Citizen who has been back in the states for almost 3 years. I have visited Israel once for 30 days after about a year and a half. During this period I have continued to pay monthly Bituach Leumi payments every month. I plan on returning to Israel this year to live there and on my return will I be able to receive medical services or will there be the 2 month per year waiting period for each year abroad even though I continued to pay? A: You should be able to receive medical services right away. I advise you to visit your local NII branch as soon as possible after you return to Israel to let them know that you are back in the country. Q: I am an Olah living in Israel for 4 years. I have been working full time for 3 years and am, in principle, entitled to maternity leave payments (12 weeks). I was wondering whether this is still the case if I give birth overseas. I recall that there is a confirmation of birth document which needs to be submitted as an original in order to claim maternity leave payments. I plan to spend my maternity leave period back in my original country. Thanks. A: Yes, an insured woman or wife of an insured person is covered for maternity insurance even if she gave birth outside Israel. You can find detailed information on the maternity allowance on our site - - and also download a claims form for the allowance. Q: I am 83 years old. Made aliyah at age 71 and understand that I do not qualify for any time of pension, etc. which is okay. However, someone told me I need to be registered with B/L anyway. If this is true, please let me know and advise on how to do it. A: You do not qualify for the regular old-age pension under law, but you may qualify for the special old-age benefit, which is conditional on an income test. You can download a form for this benefit from our site: You do need to be registered with the National Insurance Institute and to pay health insurance contributions. You should contact your local NII branch - a list of the branches with reception hours and other information may be found on our site. Q: I apologize in advance if this is wordy. I was born Israel (1985) and left with my parents at the age of 3. I spent one year studying in Israel in 2002 and was assigned a status of "ben mehagarim" by the army. I did not receive health insurance benefits from the state during that time (although I do have a teudat zehut and passport.) I received a bill for around 10,000 shekel for not paying bituach leumi since my year in Israel. I was able to clear that up by sending a letter proving that I have not lived in Israel since 1987. Now my balance is 0 shekel. My question is this: If I were to make Aliyah in the future, what would I need to do to ensure immediate health insurance coverage for myself? How about for my American wife and our 1-year-old son? Do I need to start paying monthly payments 14 months before we arrive in Israel to avoid the one time charge and 6 month wait? A: If the Ministry of Absorption considers you a returning minor, and you receive a certificate to that effect from the Ministry, then you will not have the waiting period for health services. If you do not receive such a certificate, then you will have the 14-month waiting period, which can however be redeemed by paying a one-time payment of NIS 8,730 through our site - - by means of credit card. In such a case you'll be entitled to health services 6 months after this payment (but will still have to wait up to 6 months after arrival in Israel for your residency status to be determined). Your wife and son will be defined as new immigrants, not as returning residents, and therefore they have no waiting period. Q: I made aliyah in Dec 2006, started to work Dec 16 2007, I was told today that my services would no longer be needed & my contract would be terminated June 14 2008. To complicate matters I am b"h pregnant. I am entitled to unemployment insurance, help from misrad haklita...Thanks for your help!! A: You are not entitled to an unemployment benefit from the National Insurance Institute (you need a year of work before becoming unemployed in order to be entitled). On the other hand, according to labor law (not the National Insurance Law) an employer may not fire a woman if she is pregnant. You should write a letter to your employer telling him what month you are in and then he must allow you to come back to work after your maternity leave. Then after three months, he can fire you. You can get in touch with Moshe Egal-Tal CSPP; he has given seminars at the AACI on this subject: [email protected] I received the above information from an absorption counselor at the AACI. Q: I'm leaving for the States. How do I cancel my bituach leumi. Can I do it over the phone or does it need to be done in person. If I do it a couple of weeks before I leave can I tell them to cancel it from the day I leave so I can still be covered as long as I'm here ? A: If you are leaving for a short period and plan to return, then you should continue with your monthly national and health insurance payments to the NII in order to ensure continuance of rights when you return to the country. If you are not planning to come back to Israel, then you can ask to cancel your residency status. In any case, it would be best to go in person to your local NII branch and notify the NII of your plans. You can find a list of local branches, reception hours and other information on our site: Q: I was an Israeli resident for about 3 years. Then I moved out of Israel, due to lack of employment opportunities then (2002-2004), back to India. Since I left, for the last 4 years, I've continued to make Bituach Leumi payments, regularly every month. If I decide to return, after the 5 year period, do I still have to pay NIS 8730 to avail of insurance? Have I paid in vain, for all these years? Do I continue to pay? A: No, you do not have to pay any sum to avail yourself of health insurance if you return to Israel, nor will you have a waiting period for health services, since you have paid your insurance contributions regularly. Yes, you will continue to pay after you are in Israel. You should contact the local NII branch as soon as possible after you arrive in Israel. Q: I am an "Ezrachit Olah" that immigrated to Israel 2 years ago from the US where I was born and raised. I worked in Israel during the past year and a half and my employer paid bituach leumi payments for me. I am now returning to the US in order to attend graduate school and work for a number of years - at LEAST 5 years in which I will NOT live in Israel. I have no idea when I will return, if I will return, after these 5 years. When I called the NII hotline in order to find out what I needed to do to make sure that I leave Israel in an orderly fashion, I was told that I can just cancel my residency before I leave so that I will not be billed for bituach leumi. However, when I went to do this at the Jerusalem branch, the clerk told me that that is wrong and that I actually have to keep making payment according to the law for 2 years. If after 2 years I decide that I want to cancel my residency, I can submit a form then. She also said that my residency is automatically canceled after 5 years. In any case, I submitted the form that informs NII that I am leaving the country for a period of time. 1. Is it true that I can only voluntarily cancel my residency after 2 years? I just don't understand why I cannot cancel it now if I know for a fact that I will be away for at least 5 years in which case it will be canceled anyway and I won't qualify for insurance. 2. If the clerk was wrong and I can cancel the residency before I leave, what happens if I do return to Israel? I understand about the waiting period for kupat cholim for returning residents, but would I have any kind of premium back payments to bituach leumi for the period I was not in Israel? For example, if I cancel the residency now and return after 10 years would I have a debt to NII for those 10 years or would I just start making the payments starting the date that I come back? A: 1. The cancellation of one's residency status (just as the determination of this status) is not an automatic process or uniform for everyone. There is a comprehensive residency test composed of a number of factors, which the clerk at the NII local branch weighs and then reaches a decision in each individual case. Apparently in your case the clerk checked the various factors involved and decided what she did based on her examination, and I would therefore assume that her decision has more weight than the general answer you received at the hotline. After 2 years, if you wish, you can submit a request to cancel your residency (you can find the relevant form on our site and it is possible that your residency will be cancelled retroactively from the day you left Israel, if the NII sees this is being justified. 2. For the period that you are not considered an Israeli resident, you do not have to pay insurance contributions. If and when you decide to return to Israel, you will therefore have no debt to the NII, but you'll have a waiting period - of 2 months for every year that you were out of the country - for health services. This period can be redeemed by paying a one-time sum through our site, by means of credit card. Q: We want to pay 6 monthly rates for kupat holim....We intend to stay in Tel Aviv in September 2008. Please indicate how to do this. A: You can pay the one-time payment (for each returning resident) to redeem the waiting period by means of credit card, through our site . Six months after payment is received you will be entitled to health services. Q: My husband and I made aliyah on August 16, 2006. My husband was born on Jan 21, 1943 (he was 63 when he made aliyah) I was born on March 3, 1948 (I was 58) I previously e-mailed you regarding our both making payments, and in your response you said that I will receive an old-age pension at the age of 62 (subject to an income test) or at age 68 & 8 months (without income test). 1. What is the "income test" - how would I qualify. 2. At 68 and 8 months what would my old-age pension be? A: The income test is about NIS 4,200 for a single person and NIS 5,600 for a couple (if your income is over that amount at the conditional age of entitlement, you will not be entitled to pension). The basic old-age pension is about NIS 1,190 for a single person and NIS 1,780 for a couple. Q: I am having problems dealing with Bituach Leumi on behalf of my father. We were told by a nurse that he was eligible for a Mitapel before Pesach...haven't heard another word since and don't know who to bother. Is there a service I can hire to help deal with the bureaucracy? A: There are a few avenues that you can try. You can try callig the NII phone center at *6050, or the Public Enquiries Dept. at 02- 6709070 or send an enquiry through our site - or contact your local branch (you an find a list of the branches on our site). * * * Vol LXIII Q: I am citizen of Israel, who repatriated to Israel in 1994. I permanently reside in the USA since July of 2001. Before I left Israel I made "oraat keva" for Bituach Leumi to pay my contribution. Now, I would like to stop paying this. For some reason these payments were not stopped automatically even though I've resided abroad for longer period than 5 years. How can I stop these payments, what form should I fill? Also, I have heard that some portion of money that I have paid should be reimbursed back to me. What is the criteria for the amount calculation? A: You should fill out the following form (form 627 from our site, section on Insurance forms) and add a letter explaining that on the basis of the information that you provide in the form, you wish to be no longer considered an Israeli resident. Q: Do I have the right to claim maternity allowance even if I don't have any receipts from my employer that can prove that he is paying my bituach leumi? I work for a different employer and I have salary reports for 10 months.. The father of my baby is Israeli and he is paying bituach leumi. Can I use his rights to claim the maternity allowance? IF YES, how can I do that? A: Yes, you can claim maternity allowance, and if you worked 10 out of the 14 months preceding the birth, you'll be entitled to the full allowance. Q: I received a bill from Bituach Leumi. I intend to pay, but I would like to see a "Daf Heshbon" for the past couple of months. I have tried to call their office, but it is constantly busy. How can I obtain this document? A: If you have a secret code, you can get the "daf heshbon" from our internet site, under "ishurim" (, or from any self-service station locate outside the local NII branches. Also, if our phone center (*6050) is busy, you can try our Dept. for Public Enquiries at 02-6525038. Q: Lishkat HaAvoda has been on strike since April 2nd. I am on unemployment, but I have been unable to report this month. Will I still receive my deposit? Thanks A: Yes, you should receive the payment as usual. If you haven't received it, send a declaration to your local NII branch that you could not report to the labor exchange because of the strike (which is over now, by the way). Q: What is the maximum income from outside the country (such as social security) to receive the supplemental retirement income? Can I apply for supplemental income after age 70 even though I get too much social security? A: The maximum amount from pension allowed in order to receive the income supplement is NIS 996. This does not change at age 70. Q: My husband intends to work passed retirement age. Will he receive an addition to his basic pension when he retires? We are Israeli citizens and pay Bituach Leiumi. I receive an Israeli pension. A: If he continues working and does not receive an old-age pension because his income is over the amount that would entitle him to such a pension (at retirement age), he will receive a 5% increment to the pension for every year that his pension is deferred, from retirement age up to age 70 (the absolute age of entitlement to pension for men, without income test). Furthermore, if at the time of entitlement to pension he has accumulated more than 10 years' insurance, he is entitled to a 2% increment of the pension for every extra year, up to a ceiling of 50% of the pension. Q: I work as a consultant for a US company and have been paying both US and Israeli social security. Although I understand that there is no treaty in place between the US and Israel as there is between Israel and some EU countries regarding social security payments, have there been any cases in which one has been able to avoid paying bituach leumi since there is no option to not pay US social security in this case? I look forward to hearing from you. A: No, every Israeli resident must pay NII contributions, and this insures him for all NII branches, just as your payments to the SSA insure you for social security there - so there is not really any duplication. (Even in countries with which Israel has a bilateral social security Convention, the Convention - and the exemption from paying double contributions - generally applies only to employees posted by their employer in the other country for a temporary period of time, usually two or five years). By the way, we do have a "friendship treaty" (not Convention) with the US, under which a person who is already receiving an old-age pension here can continue receiving it in the US as well. Q: Shalom, I am aware of the 8,000+ shekel cost to reinstate health insurance for returning residents, but is there a way to avoid paying this amount, i.e. waiting a longer period than usual to be reinstated? A: The payment is not obligatory. It is a way that the NII offers returning residents to redeem the waiting period for health insurance. If you don't pay it, then you simply have to wait out the waiting period to be able to receive health services: 2 months for every year that you were out of the country since 2001. Q: We made aliyah in 2003 and had to leave Israel at the end of our first year for financial reasons. We told the bituach leumi that we were leaving and to stop our kitzvat leumi payments (for 2 kids) as we were closing our Israeli bank account. Four years and an additional 2 kids later, we have returned and had to pay back payments to bituach leumi in order to get our health coverage right away. To cover this large expense, do we have any rights to the kitzvat yeladim unpaid in our absence?Thank you! A: No, there is no connection between the two. The child allowance is paid only for children who are in Israel. Q: I'm 36 & was an temporary Resident in 1996 for less than a year. I immigrated in 2004. After working for a computer firm, I joined a partnership with my friend for a new Art business in 2007. I hold 49% shares. Due to differences we are deciding to part ways & I'll look for a job to make ends meet. Can you guide me through the necessary steps to be taken up prior to annulling the partnership deed? Are there any special forms I need to submit or receive in writing/otherwise for the Bituah Leumi prior to looking for a job? What should I consider so as not to have any problems later.(I recently got from Ashqelon the Income Tax form for Business people- sent it to our Accountant for filing.) Being new I would not want to be running pillar to post for any bureaucratic loopholes. Thanking you in anticipation & hoping for an answer soon. A: You should fill out the following form notifying the NII of your change in status and send it to your local NII branch. * * * Vol LXII Q: I would like to find out if my father is eligible to receive monetary or any other assistance from bituach Leumi. He made aliyah two months ago following 2 major brain operations. He is unable to work due to memory limitations and is receiving only $1,200 per month from Social security in America. His rent is $650 per month not including all other expenses and cannot survive on this amount. Can Bituach Leumi help? A: If your father is not a "new immigrant": then only if his work/functional incapacity began when resident of Israel is he eligible for a disability pension (This condition does not apply to a person whose impairment was caused in Israel when a minor). If your father is a "new immigrant", and if he has not yet reached the age of entitlement to old-age pension (the age varies, depending on one's year and month of birth - see the old-age section on our site, he may be eligible for the "special attendance allowance for the new immigrant." He should submit a claim for this benefit (see form on the site) after 3 months have elapsed since his arrival in Israel. If his claim is deferred, then after 9 months have elapsed since his arrival in Israel, he should submit a claim for the disability pension. Q: Hi Ms.Sarah! I just want to know if I have the right for maternity leave even when my employer doesn't pay my bituach leumi? I have a salary report with my different employer 10 months before I gave birth to my baby. The father of my baby is Israeli we just living together and Misrad Hapnim (Interior Ministry) gave me a legal permit to stay here. Please let me know if I have a rights? Thanks A: Yes, you have the right to maternity leave and maternity allowance. You should submit a claim (see form on our site: and the NII will obligate your employer to pay back this money. Q: Dear Sarah, My birthday is December 5, 1945. I have been a non-Jewish permanent resident of Israel since 1977. My husband and I have been legally separated since 2003 and divorced in March 2008. I have no income in Israel but receive about 1,200 dollars a month for editing projects done on line. My disabled child who receives full Israeli benefits is living with me. Am I eligible for old age supplemental income? A: No, your income is above the ceiling for entitlement to income supplement. Q: My wife and I both came here as retirees. We have gotten forms from Bituach Leumi about being eligible for a pension. We have income from the US. What is the limit that would disqualify us? A: Since you came to Israel as retirees, you are not eligible for the regular old-age pension, but rather for the income-tested special old-age benefit. If your total income (together) is under NIS 3,359 a month you are entitled to the full old-age benefit. If it is over NIS 5,192 a month, you are not entitled to any benefit. If it is between these two amounts, you are entitled to a partial benefit. Q: My wife and I made aliyah 11 months ago. Since then we have not been working in Israel but have been finishing off things abroad. Now we are unemployed but do not yet claim any benefits for that. Going forward, will we receive any form of old age pension in Israel and how would our health insurance be covered. I AM 59 MY WIFE IS 58. We have never worked in Israel. A: Old-age pension Every male resident is obliged to pay national insurance contributions, even if he does not work. Therefore by the time you reach retirement age, or the conditional age of entitlement to old-age pension (67 for you), you will have accumulated the necessary qualifying period, and your entitlement to old-age pension will be examined on the basis of your income. At the age of 70 you will be entitled to the pension regardless of income. When your wife reaches retirement age (about 62), if she has worked, her entitlement to pension will be examined also on the basis of her income. If she has been a housewife, 5 years of residence in Israel out of the 10 years preceding age of entitlement are required. Health If you are new immigrants, that is, immigrated for the first time 11 months ago - and not returning residents - then you are entitled to health insurance immediately upon arrival in Israel. In this case, if you don't work, you are exempt from paying health insurance contributions to the NII for one year. However, if you are returning residents, you have a waiting period (for health insurance) of 2 months for every year that you were absent from the country (since 2002) . I suggest that you visit your local NII branch to check your status. Q: My wife and I plan to make Aliyah in August or September 2008. We will both begin retirement benefits starting July 1. Part of our benefits includes health insurance anywhere in the world and our pre-retirement counselor says that they have people living and using it all over the world. As we both have self and spouse coverage, that gives us 100% coverage. However, they say for international coverage the client usually pays the medical provider out of pocket up front and then the insurance company pays the client. Given this, I wouldn't think we would need to then pay into Israeli national insurance once we make aliyah. However, is there some kind of "gap" insurance or a way we can coordinate with one of the major insurance companies to receive to receive medical care so that it won't be out of pocket expenses? A: Every Israeli resident is obliged to be insured in national health insurance, whether or not they have any other health insurance. This compulsory insurance covers a basic basket of services. If a person wishes to have additional insurance from abroad, this of course is up to him or her. Q: I am a tourist living in Israel with a working permit. Am I and my wife and children entitled to receive Bituach Leumi? I know many tourists with Bituach Leumi but when I went, I was sent away by the clerk. A: You don't say what "bituah leumi" benefit/s you are requesting. Non-Israeli residents who work in Israel are insured in three insurance branches of the NII: maternity, bankruptcy and work injury. Q: Dear Sara, how many days may I be abroad in order to receive my pension from Bituah Leumi as usual, because I am an immigrant since 2005. What happens if I am late? Many thanks for an answer as soon as possible. A: I assume that you immigrated to Israel after retirement age, so that you receive the special old-age benefit. (The regular old-age pension continues to be paid to someone who goes abroad for up to 6 months.) The special old-age benefit continues to be paid to someone who goes abroad for up to one month only. However, if you receive a benefit with an income supplement, then the period during which you may go abroad and still receive the benefit is longer: if you go abroad for more than 72 days in one calendar year (from January through December), you will not receive the benefit for the period that you are abroad. If you go abroad for over three times in a calendar year (even for under 72 days), then you will not receive the benefit for the period that you are abroad. Q: Does one receive an increase in the Basic Israeli State Pension if one defers taking it for a number of years. And, if so, how much is the increase? A: If you defer taking the old-age pension due to income from work (your income is above what is allowed for entitlement to pension), although you have already accumulated the necessary qualifying (work) period, then you receive an increment of 5% of the pension for every year of deferral. In addition, if you have a qualifying period of over 10 years, you receive a 2% increase in your pension for every excess year, up to a maximum of 50% of the pension. Q: What is the maximum Social Security dollar amount from the US that will allow me to apply for the Bituach Leumi retirement (old age pension) income supplement? Does it change at age 70 for example? A: The maximum amount from pension allowed in order to get the income supplement (called the "disregard") is NIS 996. This does not change at age 70. * * * 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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