Several laws and regulations in the State of Israel enable local authorities to offer elderly parents various discounts and benefits. Some municipalities provide their elderly residents with special benefits that are not offered in other places. On the other hand, benefits for elderly residents can sometimes be reduced. Therefore, we recommend that you find out exactly what benefits or discounts are provided to seniors by the local authority in your elderly parents’ place of residence.
Discounts are not automatic
The discounts offered by the local authorities or its institutions (such as municipal academic or cultural institutions) are not given automatically. To enjoy these benefits or discounts one must file an application and present a senior citizen’s card, or fill out forms and present documents verifying income, pension or Bituach Leumi benefits at the office of the local authority or municipality.
Municipal benefits or discounts for elderly residents can be implemented through the departments of the local authorities that deal with the elderly, such as the social services or welfare office. It is important to inquire about the specific discounts offered by the relevant authority, because sometimes various restrictions or additional bylaws may either increase or reduce the sums involved.
Benefits in the local authorities
The Arnona, or Property Tax, is a municipal tax on property owned by the resident, such as an apartment or store. Elderly individuals can enjoy planning and building privileges, as well as discounts on the arnona. Housing privileges are derived from laws which apply to the local authority or municipality. Looking into this issue and finding out about all available benefits is highly recommended.
Who is eligible for a discount on the arnona?
- Senior citizens are eligible for a 30% discount for an apartment of up to 100 square meter – but only if their income does not exceed the average wage in Israel (for Israeli workers only). Owners of larger apartments will receive the discount only for 100 square meters.
- Senior citizens receiving benefits from Bituach Leumi (such as pensions for survivors of deceased persons, dependents, work injuries) may be eligible for a 25% discount.
- Beneficiaries of alimony or the long-term care benefit from Bituach Leumi, may be entitled to a discount up to 70%.
- Individuals with disabilities who do not yet receive the old age benefit, with a permanent earning incapacity of 75% or more, may be eligible for a discount of 80%.
- Persons disabled in the war against the Nazis, who are eligible for benefits according to the law of the disabled in the war against the Nazis, 1954, are eligible for a 66% discount up to 70 square meters, or 90 square meters if more than 4 people are living in the apartment.
- Disabled individuals who do not yet receive the old age benefit, with a disability of 90% or more, may be eligible for a 40% reduction on the entire area of the apartment.
- Individuals disabled by Nazi persecutions (including eligibility for disability benefits from the following countries: Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium), may be eligible for a 66% discount up to 70 square meters, or 90 square meters if more than 4 people are living in the apartment.
- Needy Holocaust survivors, eligible for benefits according to the law of benefits for needy Holocaust survivors, 2007, are eligible for a 66% discount up to 70 square meters, or 90 square meters if more than 4 people are living in the apartment.
- Persons disabled during service in the IDF and bereaved families are eligible for a 66% discount up to 70 square meters, or 90 square meters if more than 4 people are living in the apartment.
- A blind person with a certificate of blindness may be eligible for a 90% discount.
- A new immigrant (for a period of one year only) may be eligible for a 90% discount, on up to 100 square meters.
- A new immigrant dependent on the assistance of others, who is eligible for a special benefit or a long-term care benefit for immigrants, may be eligible for an 80% discount.
- Discounts for the needy – in some local authorities the discount committee is authorized to give a discount of up to 70% to an apartment resident following an especially high expense due to a one-time medical treatment or long-term illness of a family member, or some other event that has considerably and unexpectedly worsened his financial situation.
There are several restrictions regarding arnona discounts for seniors:
- The discount will be given to the senior citizen for one apartment only.
- The discount will be given to one senior citizen only, even if more than one eligible senior is living in the apartment.
- The discount will also be given when only one of the couple living in the apartment is a senior citizen.
- When more than one senior citizen resides in the apartment, the discount will only be given if the total income of all residents, from any source, does not exceed 150% of the average wage in the Israeli economy.
The rate of the arnona is determined according to the type of property, its size and a list of other criteria. An appeal regarding the sum charged by the local authority may be submitted. The appeal must be submitted to the local authority within 90 days of receiving the notice for payment. At times, the discount is dependent upon an income test. In such cases it is once again recommended to ask the relevant local authority about their discount policy.
Despite the bureaucracy involved in obtaining the discount, it is highly recommended to ask the local authority about the elderly person’s eligibility, since the sums to be saved are considerable.
Additional benefits offered by local authorities are: discounts for the elderly on services provided to the whole population (usually regardless of the person’s financial situation), such as community clubs, classes and libraries. Some public institutions, especially providers of educational and cultural services, also offer benefits to seniors residing in their vicinity.
Another form of assistance is heating in the wintertime. This aid is provided through the welfare department in the local municipality or council. It is only available to senior citizens who live alone and receive old age benefits and guaranteed income. The benefit includes a one-time grant for the purpose of heating the home in the winter. The sum is based on specific criteria and budgetary possibilities.
Again, inquiring about additional discounts, given for economic reasons, is highly recommended. These discounts are based on the evaluation of a committee set up by the local authority.