In October 2020, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (the Claims Conference) announced that it would issue Supplemental Hardship Payments in recognition of the adverse effects of the pandemic on the elderly in particular, and the onslaught of health, emotional, and financial hurdles that Holocaust survivors have faced during this time. Eligible survivors will receive a payment of about $1,400 in 2021, and another payment of about $1,400 in 2022 (the exact payment date for each recipient will vary). The majority of Holocaust survivors in the U.S. receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides modest financial assistance for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.  

Working together with our partners at Bet Tzedek Legal Services’ Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, we asked the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue an Emergency Message (EM) to field office employees, reminding them about the requirement stated in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) at SI 00830.710 and SI 01130.610, excluding any payments made to individuals because of their status as victims of Nazi persecution from being counted as income or resources for SSI purposes.  

On February 26, 2021, SSA released EM 21014, which provides instructions for excluding the Supplemental Hardship Fund payments made to Holocaust survivors from income and resource counting for the purpose of determining SSI eligibility and benefit payment amount. We hope that this EM provides helpful information for advocates, and that this reminder will prevent any survivors from having their SSI benefits suspended or receiving a notice of overpayment due to receiving the Supplemental Hardship Payments from the Claims Conference. 

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