German Social Security – The ‘Ghetto Pension’

This post is for historical informational purposes only. Please do not refer to this post for information pertaining to current Claims Conference programs. Visit What We Do for current program guidelines and information. Thank you.

October 20, 2009

Previously rejected applications from Holocaust survivors for German “Ghetto Pension” payments are automatically being re-evaluated, following three court decisions this summer that greatly liberalized the criteria for these German Social Security Payments.

The Claims Conference initiated a Monitoring Group together with the German Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The Monitoring Group is ensuring the successful re-opening, under liberalized guidelines, of nearly 70,000 social security pension claims rejected since 2002.The Monitoring Group examined key points of processing, criteria and administration. There are major open issues such as the date of back payment of newly approved cases and the speed of processing.

The Claims Conference is not involved in any way in the processing or administration of these claims. Information about previously submitted applications is available from German Regional Pension Institutions, which are organized based on the current country of residence of the applicant. Click here for a list of offices to contact for information.

Germany’s social insurance legislation of 2002 (ZRBG, or “Ghetto Pension”) admits payments of old age pensions under certain conditions to survivors of Nazi occupied or incorporated ghettos (including Transnistria) who performed “voluntary and remunerated work.” However, inconsistent and overly strict interpretation of eligibility criteria by local German authorities resulted in widespread denial of claims. The Claims Conference has been pressing for changes in the law’s implementation and eventually spearheaded an international campaign for the liberalization of the ZRBG conducted by governments, grassroots organizations of survivors and community advocacy groups.

Through the Monitoring Group, the Claims Conference has insisted on the following conditions that the Federal Social Court and the National Pension Board are using to re-examine denied claims:

All rejected claims are being re-opened automatically, and denied claimants do not need to do anything to initiate the review of their claim. Social Security offices are examining claims in order of date of birth, with the oldest claimants being processed first.

Guidelines related to remuneration and “voluntary work” are to be considered in the broadest possible terms. The kind of remuneration received for the work performed (money, food, clothes, etc.) is no longer a decisive factor, and remuneration need not have been provided directly to the claimant. A court decision in May 2009 also stated that ghettos in Transnistria should be covered under the Ghetto Pension law.

Additionally, individuals who are already receiving a Ghetto Pension may, under certain circumstances, be eligible for a re-assessment based on their age and circumstances during the years 1945-1949. These re-assessments must be requested by the pensioner (applied for) in writing.

It should be noted that the ZRBG/Ghetto Pension and the one-time “Ghetto Fund” payment of Euro 2000 (established in 2007 to recognize work performed in a ghetto) are separate programs. The one-time payment does not preclude filing for, and award of, a ZRBG pension. However, receipt of a ZRBG pension precludes payment of the Euro 2000 compensation.

More information on the criteria for Ghetto Pension and several current changes is available on the Claims Conference website at www.claimscon.org/ghettopension.

“ZRBG 2009” Fact Sheet

The “ZRBG 2009” Flyer prepared for distribution by Germany’s Deustche Rentenversicherung- National Pension Board is available online in German, English, Russian, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, French and Hebrew.

Detailed statements of ZRBG changes can be accessed online through the DRV website at: www.deutsche-rentenversicherung-bund.de

The Claims Conference is not involved in the administration, implementation or processing of applications for the Ghetto Pension or the Ghetto Fund.

The information presented herein is intended for information purposes only and solely as a general guide. The information is not intended as legal advice. It is a summary of specific issues and does not represent a definitive or complete statement of the programs and policies of the agencies or governments mentioned.

The information may not address the special needs, interests and circumstances of individual recipients. Individual situations differ and recipients are urged to seek individual advice. Individuals seeking specific information on a program are urged to contact the relevant program or to consult their social service agency or help center representative.

To the best of our knowledge the information is correct as of the date of this document and this information may change subsequent to the said date.
October 20, 2009

The German pension insurance authorities have authored and issued the information provided, the flyers (PDF files) and any translations of these materials, and they alone are responsible for the contents of said documents. The Claims Conference has no responsibility for the contents, translations or any updates provided. At the request of the German pension insurance authorities the Claims Conference has only made its website available for distribution of the information without reviewing the contents. If you have further queries or require further information please visit the website of the German pension insurance authorities.

If you have further queries or require further information please visit the website of the German pension insurance authorities: www.deutsche-rentenversicherung-bund.de