Reading this page will give you a graphical summary of the application process.
There are two offices in Poland that are involved with the Polish pension application process.
The first is UDSKiOR (an acronym for Urząd do Spraw Kombatantów i Osób Represjonowanych, the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression). UDSKiOR processes and makes a decision about the applicant’s eligibility.
The second office is ZUS (which stands for Zakład Ubezpieczeń Społecznych, the Social Insurance Institution). Once the applicant is approved for the pension, ZUS is charged with arranging for and carrying out the payments.
The first step in the application process is to send away three (3) documents: the initial application to UDSKiOR, a form to the Auschwitz Jewish Center appointing them as proxy, and a request to a Holocaust survivor association to send an endorsement to UDSKiOR on the applicant’s behalf. These documents and a more detailed description of each can be found here.
Once UDSKiOR has received all these documents, their staff will begin researching the claim for the pension. UDSKiOR looks in Polish institutions, such as the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, for evidence of stays in ghettos and concentration camps, or forced deportation to the USSR.
Either during or after their investigation, UDSKiOR will send back a response.
The response, in Polish, will either ask for more information, or will be a denial or approval of the application.
If it is an approval, UDSKiOR will (1) send a packet of documents to the applicant. The applicant, in turn, will then (2) send a copy of the positive decision and an application to have the payment sent outside of Poland to ZUS, the Polish pension agency. The final step will be (3) the transfer of the payment abroad to the applicant’s bank account.
If more information is needed to make a determination, UDSKiOR will (1) send a letter in Polish to the applicant requesting more information. The applicant must then (2) give an answer back in Polish to UDSKiOR. Even after an applicant, is approved, ZUS may similarly contact the applicant for more information before it can send out the payment.
If the applicant (1) receives a negative decision, (2) he or she can appeal if there is a strong feeling that the decision was made in error. UDSKiOR primarily contacts institutions in Poland, so there are resources in America and Israel which often have much information about the applicant’s war-time history that the office did not access.