Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced on Monday a 50 percent increase in monthly disability benefits for the over 200,000 Israelis who receive the financial assistance.
The move came after protests, including a hunger strike, by the disabled, who are demanding that the benefits be raised to the same level as the minimum wage in the country.
As a result of the NIS 4 billion ($1.1 billion) increase, those entitled to monthly disability benefits will receive NIS 3,800 ($1,035) a month, up from the NIS 2,342 ($640) they currently receive, according to Hebrew media reports.
However, this is still significantly short of the minimum wage of NIS 5,000 ($1,365) per month.
MK Ilan Gilon of the left-wing Meretz party, who is himself disabled, told Israel Radio on Monday that while he is pleased with the raise, as long as those receiving monthly disability benefits are not entitled to get an amount equivalent to the minimum wage, they will continue to receive only “poverty benefits.”
Also, the increase to monthly disability benefits will be only be gradually phased in over a period of five years, as the Finance Ministry is reportedly unsure of where the funding for the planned raise will come from.
According to The Marker business daily, officials in the Finance Ministry’s Budget Department are concerned that the increase will lead to an enlargement the government budget.
Due to the need to find additional funding for the raise in monthly disability benefits, the Finance Ministry appointed a team that will work during the Passover holiday to figure out the details of how to make the plan work, Channel 2 reported.