In meetings with the Claims Conference, the German Social Security Administration pledged that all Holocaust survivors who have applied and previously been rejected for German Social Security payments under the countrys "Ghetto Pension Law" (ZRBG) will have their cases reviewed by the end of 2010.
The Claims Conference met last week with German officials to urge more rapid processing of cases and retroactive payments to applicants, and has been pressing these issues since court rulings in 2009 allowed re-evaluation of rejected applications. Today, the National Pension Board announced that if applicants are found to be entitled to a pension, in accordance with the court rulings, generally the payments will be backdated to January 1, 2005.
Following the decision in June 2009 of the German Federal Social Court (Bundessozialgericht) to allow reconsideration of claims for "ghetto pensions" from tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors previously rejected, the Claims Conference has been pressing for an expedited review of these applications. Out of 70,000 applicants, there remain 56,000 previously rejected applications from Holocaust survivors for review.
The applications will be processed according to the survivors date of birth in order to give priority to the oldest applicants.
Since the court rulings, 1,700 previously rejected applications have been approved. The German Social Security Administration has assured the Claims Conference that the rate of processing for the remaining 56,000 claims will be considerably faster in order to complete them by years end.
The 2009 court rulings relate to a number of issues of interpretation of the ghetto pension law, including the definition of "remuneration," "voluntary labor" and the existence of age limits. For an overview of the main issues, see the Claims Conferences website at www.claimscon.org/zrbgmain.
Prior to the court ruling, the Claims Conference had initiated a monitoring group established by the Ministry of Labor regarding implementation of the ZRBG law. The Claims Conference pressed for retroactive payments. In addition, the Claims Conference asked for re-opening of cases without re-submission of documents by claimants. The German Social Security Administration began proactively reviewing all rejected ZRBG/Ghetto Pension claims.
Applicants whose Ghetto Pension claims were denied do not need to request the re-opening of their claims in accordance with the court rulings of June 2009, nor do they have to contact the ZRBG offices in Germany to have their files reviewed.
However, applicants may contact the German Pension Board about the status of their claims and to inform the ZRBG office about changes of address, bank account etc.
Contact information for applicants depends on their current country of residence. Information on regional pension institutions is at www.claimscon.org/zrbgmain.
The "ZRBG 2009" Flyer prepared for distribution by Germanys Deustche Rentenversicherung- National Pension Board is available online and by clicking the following links in:
German, English, Russian, Czech, Slovakian, Hungarian, French, and Hebrew.
The Claims Conference will continue to press on this issue of great importance to so many survivors, and to keep you informed of developments. The Claims Conference will continue to make available all information pertinent to Holocaust survivors through help centers, social service agencies and on our website at www.claimscon.org.
German Social Security: Regional Pension Institutions
Frequently Asked Questions About German Social Security for Work in a Ghetto (ZRBG). Updated June 2009
The Claims Conference is not involved in the administration, implementation or processing of applications for this program.
March 19, 2010