National Insurance Institute to Change Policy on Withdrawing Single Parents Benefits06 April 2011
Following pressure from NIF grantee Itach: Women Lawyers for Social Justice, the National Insurance Institute has announced it will end its practice of automatically withdrawing welfare payments to single parents when there are suspicions that the conditions are being violated. In the future, the National Insurance Institute will give single parents a hearing and an opportunity to refute the charges against them.
There are 130,000 single parent families in Israel, 90 percent of them headed by women. According to Itach, each year 1,500 single parents have their welfare payments withdrawn because they are believed to be living with a partner, or in other instances own a car despite declaring that they did not possess a vehicle. However, in many of the complaints handled by Itach, the National Insurance Institute claims against the single parents were found to be groundless.
Single mothers from Migdal Haemek in Northern Israel
demonstrate outside of the Knesset.
Several months ago Itach petitioned Israel's Supreme Court on the matter, claiming that it infringed basic rights to withdraw payments without giving the person an opportunity to defend the charges against them. Rather than address the case in court, the National Insurance Institute decided to change its procedures and give claimants a hearing.
"This achievement is vital for many women who need these payments to survive," explained Keren Shemesh-Perlmutter, Legal Advisor to Itach. "Withdrawing these payments on the basis of mistaken decisions and incorrect testimony was sentencing single mothers and their children to lives of abject poverty."