In a breakthrough for Holocaust survivors, the Claims Conference has successfully obtained a major revision in its pension program that will result in an estimated $250 million in payments over the next 10 years to an additional 6,000 survivors worldwide. The shift came following months of negotiations with the German Ministry of Finance, which will provide the funding for payments to those who are eligible.

The additional payments will be from the Claims Conference Article 2 Fund pension program. At present, eligibility, as specified by German government criteria, is partially determined by income below US $16,000 or its equivalent in local currency after taxes. Due to Claims Conference negotiations, many benefits paid to elderly survivors will no longer count toward that income limit. With 51,000 survivors currently receiving Article 2 payments, this will lead to a more than 10 percent increase in the number of people who will now qualify for payments.

“This was, first and foremost, an issue of principle,” said Gideon Taylor, Claims Conference Executive Vice President. “Since its establishment, the Claims Conference has argued that Holocaust compensation payments are symbolic and should not be based on need.”

These negotiations established that as of October 1, 2007, all old age pensions — including governmental pensions, social security payments, occupational pensions and retirement plans – as well as pensions awarded for a reduction in earning capacity, industrial injury, occupational disease, and loss of life, or any comparable payments will not be counted towards calculation of the income limit, effectively granting payments to thousands more survivors. In addition, only the net income of the applicant will be considered, and not the income of his or her spouse, changing the previous rule.

These changes reflect the long-standing Claims Conference position that compensation payments, which recognize Nazi persecution and suffering, should not be based on income criteria and should be paid irrespective of financial need. In previous negotiations, the Claims Conference had obtained the exclusion of social security payments from the computation of income for persons age 70 and older who met all other fund criteria.

The Claims Conference is implementing an international outreach campaign to inform survivors of these major changes in the program.

Specific details (including which payments constitute comparable payments and limitations regarding assets of the applicant) are still being discussed with the German Ministry of Finance.

Eligibility for the Article 2 Fund is determined by the German government and is also based on a survivor’s persecution history, including incarceration in certain camps or ghettos, forced labor, and time in hiding or living under false identity. Full eligibility criteria are available on the Claims Conference website at

For more information, email or call 646-536-9100.

Claims Conference Accomplishments

The Article 2 Fund has paid more than $2 billion to more than 73,000 Holocaust survivors since it was established in 1992 through negotiations with the German government. Monthly payments are ˆ270 (approximately $320).

When the Article 2 Fund was established, the German government agreed to pay only 25,000 Holocaust survivors. Due to Claims Conference annual negotiations with the Ministry of Finance to liberalize eligibility criteria, including the recognition of incarceration in additional camps and work battalions, more than 96,000 survivors have been approved to date for monthly pension payments from the Article 2 Fund and the related Central and Eastern European Fund.

Open Issues

Despite recent successes in liberalizing certain criteria for the Hardship, Article 2 and CEE Funds, open issues remain, and the Claims Conference continues to fight for inclusion of Holocaust survivors who, among others:
· Were in forced military labor battalions and in concentration camps not currently recognized as such by Germany;
· Were subjected to persecution for periods of time less than currently stipulated;
· Were confined in open ghettos;
· Have income in excess of the current income limit (for the Article 2 Fund);
· Were citizens of Western countries who received a small amount of previous compensation under the Global Agreements between Germany and their countries and are not covered by liberalizations.

In addition, the Claims Conference is pressing the issue of applicants to the Claims Conference Hardship Fund who had not been able to meet eligibility criteria at the time of application and wish to re-apply for payment, as well as the establishment of a parallel Hardship Fund for residents of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union who did not emigrate to the West and are therefore not eligible for payments from the existing Hardship Fund.

The Claims Conference also continues to negotiate a series of other administrative issues relating to these programs.