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Senator Bob Gordon, D-Bergen, listens to testimony before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee regarding services for people with developmental disabilities.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg to protect monetary reparations received by Holocaust survivors from being seized was approved today by the Senate. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.

“The dreadful atrocities suffered by people young and old during this time period will forever be a stain on history,” said Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The monetary reparations received by Holocaust survivors and the family members of those who endured these horrible crimes must be permanently protected from seizure. These are long-overdue payments that we have an obligation to ensure remain with the individuals to whom they were owed and their loved ones.”

The bill (S2676) stipulates that, except for child support payment orders, monetary reparations designated for or received by a Holocaust survivor of Nazi persecution from any governmental source or victim assistance source shall be exempt from all claims of creditors and from levy, execution, attachment or other legal processes.

“It is our obligation to ensure that the reparations received by survivors and their families, which were provided years after these horrid crimes were committed, are protected,” said Senator Weinberg. “By making sure the payments are exempt from seizure by creditors and others, we will provide safeguards for those living in our state so that the money owed to them is not further diminished.”

Under federal law, Holocaust reparations payments are exempt as assets/resources for the purposes of determining eligibility for Medicaid as long as the payments are “separately identifiable,” that is, maintained in a separate account. Any interest or dividends earned on the reparation payments, however, are not exempt from Medicaid’s calculation of income and assets/resources. This bill would continue the exempt status of the reparations payments upon the death of the Medicaid recipient by providing that they are not part of the Medicaid recipient’s estate and, therefore, not subject to recovery in an estate proceeding of a Medicaid recipient.

In 2000, a global settlement agreement and plan of distribution was ratified which included the establishment of an $800 million settlement fund designed to provide restitution to Holocaust victims and their survivors for money illegally obtained from Swiss banks by the Nazi regime. The Claims Resolution Tribunal has received over 32,000 claims from Nazi victims or their heirs to assets deposited in Swiss banks in the period before and after World War II. At about the same time, the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims established a program to settle insurance claims never paid to Holocaust victims or their heirs. Recently, Holocaust survivors or their heirs have begun to receive reparations payments from the funds established for this purpose. It is estimated that approximately 4,500 Holocaust survivors live in New Jersey.

Because these funds represent reparations for money improperly seized or withheld, the sponsors hope to ensure that they are not further diminished by remaining subject to creditor or other claims. The bill also exempts these funds from estate recoveries under the Medicaid program. Under State and federal Medicaid law, a state must seek recovery from the estate of the deceased Medicaid recipient for all services received when the recipient was 55 years of age or older, such as nursing home services, home and community-based services and related hospital and prescription drug services.

The bill would take effect immediately.

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