Thousands of needy Holocaust survivors will be eligible for pensions from Germany for the first time according to an agreement concluded with the Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
The agreement adds a quarter of a billion dollars to the pension fund over ten years and may be one of the last and biggest breakthroughs in the area of reparations to survivors, according to the Claims Conference.
The organization will launch a major ad campaign next week to reach those eligible for the new funds, Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Claims Conference said in a telephone interview with JTA. Taylor said there is no deadline for applications, but the earlier one applies, the better.
The deal affects survivors whose income levels made them ineligible for the payments in the past. Most of the newly eligible had slightly more than the $16,000 maximum annual income. Others were ineligible because separate reparation payments were counted toward the total. That will no longer be the case, Taylor said.
The funds will be distributed starting on October 1, and will cover ten years.
“It’s a huge thing, will make a big difference for a lot of people worldwide,” Taylor said, adding that it took “a long battle” and months of negotiations to reach the agreement. He said information about how to apply ias available at Claims Conference offices and on the website, www.claimscon.org.
The additional payments will be from the Claims Conference Article 2 Fund pension program, which currently distributes pensions to 51,000 survivors. The new rules will lead to a more than 10 percent increase in the number of people who qualify for payments, he predicted.