The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) recently updated its legal memo on the effect of Holocaust reparations on U.S. federal benefits and entitlement programs, such as, for example, Medicaid.
This most recent version, updated November, 2017, states that, like most German restitution payments, the Polish pension is exempt from being counted as either income or resources for such programs. This means that if one is applying to Food Stamps (now known as SNAP) or Medicaid, any money deriving from Polish pension payments is to be discounted. The one exception is possibly in the case of forced deportation.
To read more about this exemption, please see the NYLAG memo here. The reference to the Polish pension is on the top of page 4.
ZUS, the Social Insurance Agency in Poland which is responsible for sending out Polish pension payments, has been sending out letters that there will be a small, permanent increase in pension payments. The increase was put into effect on March 1, 2017, and so is reflected in the last quarterly payment, which arrived on or about March 20. The next quarterly payment, due on or about June 20, will fully incorporate this increase.
In truth, the increase is negligible. It is also general, and all pension recipients received this same increase.
All approved applicants should have received this letter. To see the letter, its translation and a summary chart of the changes, please click here.
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More emphasis has also been placed upon the appeals process, as many who are denied the pension from Poland are encouraged to appeal with new evidence.
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Recently, some applicants to the Polish pension have been asked to send in a letter to Poland granting them permission to make an inquiry with the Claims Conference. This is in stark contrast to a previous statement from UDSKiOR (The Office of Veterans and Victims of Oppression) that “reparations from German institutions is not a basis for giving Veterans’ rights on the basis of the currently applicable law.”
In response to a query, a worker in the German office of the Claims Conference stated that “UDSKiOR will not approve a case exclusively based on an earlier ZRBG/BEG decision but such a document is at least a strong argument in favor of a applicant and the persecution he/she describes. So everyone who has a ZRBG or BEG document at hand should submit it with his application. It is at least an important piece of the puzzle of documentation.”
Thus it is advised that Polish pension applicants send in along with their applications any life certificates or award letters from the ZRBG (Ghetto pension), BEG (AKA “Wiedergutmachung”) or Article 2 (administered by the Claims Conference) if they receive any of them. You may send any of these to us for limited translation of the relevant sections.
Please note that an important change has been made to the annotated guide to filling out the ZUS-RZ-DKK-01 form.
- Page 5, Section 2.1 should only be completed by those outside the USA.
- Page 6, Section 2.2 should only be completed by those within the USA.
Those who are applying from within the USA should only include their routing numbers to their banks, and not the SWIFT code, which is requested for other countries such as Australia, Canada, Israel, etc.
For those who sent in applications 4-5 months ago and more, we have posted an unofficial letter of inquiry to send to Poland. This letter can be used to inquire about the status of an application. Please note that this letter is not an official letter from the Office of War Veterans and Victims of Oppression. It is entirely optional to send.
It can be found here.
Some applicants have received a letter from The Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression (UDSKIOR) asking for more information. A reply letter, in Polish but with comments in English, has been posted on this site here. This letter can be customized to the reply to the specific requests of UDSKIOR.
For social workers who visit clients who have received a response letter in Polish, a list of translated paragraphs in a PDF printable version has been published. This can be brought to the client's home so that the letter can be translated immediately without having to bring it back to the office. Please find it here. Of course, please feel free to submit any Polish for translation which is not found in this document.
Some workers and their applicants have been sending us documentation for translation of an applicant's approval for German reparations programs, such as Article 2, BEG or the Ghetto Pension. Unfortunately, the Polish government has stated that these will not be acceptable as evidence of an applicant's Holocaust experiences.
However, if an applicant does receive BEG (also known as "Wiedergutmachung"), it might be worthwhile to write to Germany to ask for the original documentation that was sent in when the applicant first submitted material to receive the pension back in the 1950s or 1960s. There may be documentation within that file (e.g., DP cards, birth or marriage certificates, etc.) that may be acceptable evidence for the Polish pension application.