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. The court decisions in June 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 and in English and Russian. Hebrew, Hungarian and French versions of the document will be posted as soon as they become available.

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