Bituah Leumi expert: Old-age pensions

Vol LXVIII: I made aliyah in 1996 at age 71. I am now 83. Am I entitled to old age pension?

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 "National Insurance Programs in Israel" in English, last updated January 2008, offering a description of social security programs, definitions, conditions of entitlement, and rates of payment, please email your request; include your name and regular mailing address (NOT email address).
Click here to send us your questions for Sarah and please leave your comments on the Q&A below. NOTE: Sarah can only answer questions of a general nature. For specific cases, please call the Public Enquiries Dept. between 13.00 and 15.00, Sundays through Thursdays, at: 02-6709070 or call the national phone center at *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 LXIX Q: I have made my six payments in dollar checks as is stipulated in the guidance for those returning to Israel during its 60 year anniversary-so that I need not wait six months for the bituach to kick-in. I sent out the last checks at the beginning of November. I have now been told that the rules have changed and the checks will be returned to me and I must pay in shekels. I started to send in my checks in July and finished in November. Bituach Leumi would send me an email saying that the checks were received and if I ever tried to correspond with them, the one sentence response was "I cannot talk to you until you finish paying the full amount". How can they change the rules (of this game) midway through? I was counting on getting that money returned to me in shekel (a benefit) as is stated in the paperwork. Welcome to Israel! A: The "returning home for Israel's 60th" campaign is initiated and sponsored by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption in Israel (see their site), not by the National Insurance Institute. Therefore all questions and problems related to that campaign should be addressed to them. Q: I am a dual citizen of Israel and the USA. I worked for the Israeli government in NYC from 1973-1977 and paid income taxes to Israel. What are my rights regarding Bituach Leumi upon retirement and/or am I entitled to any money now? I am 60 years old and continue to live in the USA. A: Rights and obligations under the National Insurance Institute are based on residency in Israel, not citizenship. Therefore a person not defined as an Israeli resident is not obliged to pay insurance contributions, nor is he entitled to benefits. Q: My husband and I left Israel in 1978, but he did worked as a taxi driver for a while and I have worked for maybe three years. If I send you my and my husband's security number could you be able to tell us how much we can get when we go back to Israel? A: The years of work that a person needs in order to qualify for the old-age pension is 5 out of the last 10 years preceding pensionable age or 12 years altogether. Q: I am 57 and after residing in the US for the last 34 years I plan on returning to Israel within the next 3 months. I am both, US and Israeli citizen. What are my rights as far as health insurance, retirement benefits? Can my retirement benefits from the US be transferred to Israel? A: If you have not paid regular health insurance contributions to the NII in Israel when abroad, you will have a waiting period of 2 months to receive medical services for every year of absence from Israel since 2001. However, you may redeem this waiting period if you pay a lump-sum payment of NIS 8,880 six months before you return to Israel (through credit card, through our site:, in which case you will be entitled to medical services immediately upon arrival. You may be entitled to an old-age pension when you reach retirement age, dependent on income (for you: 63) or pensionable age, not dependent on income (for you: 70), if you have accumulated the required insurance (work) period. See our site for further information. The question of transfer of retirement benefits from the US should be posed to the SSA. Q: I am a toshav hozer [returning citizen] from the UK. I have worked both in the UK and previously in Israel ( approx. 15 years in both countries) and understand that with the agreement between the UK and Israel I will be entitled to both a UK and Israeli pension on retirement. I am planning to work and retire in Israel (in about 10 years)/ I believe I currently qualify for a 50% pension for the UK. My question is how many years of Bituach Leumi do I need for an Israeli pension and if I have "more" than I need can these be used in any way to supplement my UK pension? A: For an old-age pension from the National Insurance Institute of Israel, you need 5 years of insurance (work) in Israel within the last 10 years preceding pensionable age, or 12 years altogether. Regarding your second question, you would have to find out from the UK authorities. Q: As a 43-year-old single mother with one 3-year-old child, how much salary do I have to make to receive income supplement? I was told it depends on the minimum salary. If I make 3000-4000 shekels a month, am I entitled to a supplement? A: The maximum amount of monthly income from work that you may earn and still be entitled to an income supplement is, in your case, NIS 4,641. Q: My family and I lived in Israel for nearly five years while I was enrolled in local college. We are not Israeli citizens but were entitled to Bituah Leumi. Now about three months ago we moved back to the US and neglected to cancel our insurance prior to our departure. We have been trying to terminate our benefits since but have driven in total circles. Can you help us? To whom we should turn to; whom to call? I have called, I have faxed but have gotten no where? Please reply. A:טפסים ואישורים/Documents/t627.pdf The above is a link to a form for determination of residency. You should fill out the form, you can also add a letter requesting to cancel residency, and send it to the your previous local NII branch. (you can find a list of branches and addresses on our site: * * * Vol LXVIII Q: I'm made aliyah 1 year and 3 month ago. Soon I'm planning to leave Israel approximately for 1 year and 8 months. I really don't understand what will happen with my Bituah Leumi, as I understand that when I come back to Israel after my absence I will need to pay a lot of money and won't have any insurance for half a year. Is that true? Why? How it does it work? A: Any person who plans to go abroad must inform the local branch of the NII of his plans, and arrange that insurance contributions be paid on his behalf for the period of his stay abroad. This may be done through a standing order, credit card, or having a relative or friend in Israel pay regularly at the post office. This is because all Israeli residents are obligated to pay regular national and health insurance contributions, even if they are not always physically in the country. If you do not pay, you will accumulate a debt. The "waiting period" (of 2 months for every year abroad) for eligibility for health services applies only to persons who stay abroad for two consecutive years or more, during which they did not pay health insurance contributions to the NII. Q: Shalom, can a person be denied recognition as a returning resident by BTL if that person's sole source of income has been US disability benefits while living outside of Israel? In other words, will Israel accept such income as sufficient to live on upon return to Israel? A: The amount of a person's income is not generally a consideration in the NII's determination of whether to define him as a (returning) resident. This determination is based on whether the person's main home is centered in Israel; factors such as work, school, family and home ownership are taken into account. The final decision is of the NII staff in the particular local NII branch concerned. Q: I was fired in December, 2007 and was unemployed for seven months. Since June I have been working. I have now been fired again as of the middle of November. I used up approximately 170 days of my 175 days of unemployment due to me before June. Am I allowed now to get unemployment again? If so then for how long? I am 56 years old. Thank you for all help. A: In order to be entitled to unemployment benefit, one needs what we call a "qualifying (work) period" of 360 days out of the 540 days prior to the unemployment. A recurring claim for unemployment benefit may be submitted only after 12 months have elapsed since the beginning of the previous "qualifying period." In any case, it is always advisable to report to the local unemployment bureau immediately following dismissal, because this is the first condition for receiving benefit in any particular month. Q: I retired aged 62 in 2007 and am receiving a pension from Bituach Leumi. Does the pension increase when I reach the age of 65? My husband is due to retire in 2009 aged 67. Will we each get a pension or do we get a joint pension as a couple? If we get a joint pension, how much will this be? Neither of us are receiving a salary. A: Since you have reached the retirement age, or age of entitlement to old-age pension conditional on income (including income not from work), your present old-age NII pension is proportional to the amount of your own income. When you reach the pensionable age, or absolute age of entitlement to pension (for you: 67 and 4 months or 67 and 8 months, depending on the month of your birth - see table on our site:, you will receive the full pension, irrrespective of income. When your husband reaches the absolute age of entitlement to pension - 70 for all men - the maximum income that will be taken into account for your entitlement to pension is the maximum income for a couple: NIS 17,472. More information may be found on our site. Q: I made aliyah in 1977, I am now 70 years old and receive 'Kitzvat Zikna' [Old age Pension] from 2000.... I INTEND to go to live abroad permanently, either in South Africa or in the Philippines with family I have there. What will happen to my pension? Will I continue to receive payment in my bank in Israel? Or do I lose my right to receive my pension because I live abroad? I need my pension to be able to support myself abroad A: If you stay abroad for up to 6 months, your pension will continue to be paid to your bank account in Israel. If you plan to go abroad for a longer period, you must notify your local NII branch (the old-age department) of your plans. In special cases, the NII may continue to pay the pension for a longer period, even if you immigrate to a country with which Israel does not have a bilateral social security convention, like the countries you mention. However, the payment is made to a bank account in Israel, and you must send a "certificate of life" to the NII in Israel every year. Q: My husband has dementia and I have been unable to return to Israel because of his condition. Are there any benefits in Israel that could help me care for him? I would like to return with him but do not know what I could do without help. A: He may be entitled to a long-term care benefit, provided to persons of retirement age who are dependent on others for the performance of everyday tasks, or who are in need of supervision - on condition that they are living at home, not in an institution. Check our site for further information: Q: I made aliyah in 1996 at age 71. I am now 83. Am I entitled to old age pension? A: Since you immigrated to Israel for the first time after the age determined in law for coverage, you are not insured for the regular old-age pension, but you may be eligible for a special old-age benefit (at the same rate), if you meet the income test criteria. You can check our web site for further information and for a claim form: Q: I am receiving a bituach leumi old age pension. If I return to the USA to live, will I still be eligible to receive this pension monthly? A: Yes, since there is a "friendship treaty" signed on this issue between the US and Israel. However, you must notify your local NII branch before you leave, and you will have to send a "certificate of life" to the NII once a year. Q: My husband and I are Israeli citizens and my husband pays Bituach Leumi. We have a home in Israel but until he retires at 70 we live most of the time in the UK. We visit grandchildren and our home in Israel 3 times a year. We have been told that when we return permanently to live in Israel my husband will have to wait six months before he can see a doctor or use any medical service. On our frequent visits to Israel I am able to see our Doctor but my husband has to pay. What will happen when we return to live permanently in Israel if my husband becomes ill during the 6 months period before he is eligible for medical treatment? A: If your husband pays health insurance contributions to the NII regularly, then he will be eligible for medical services immediately upon arrival in Israel. The waiting period for eligibility for medical services applies only to those who have not paid their contributions regularly when abroad. * * * 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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