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Pensioner
Two retirees in a bank. © Sebastian Kahnert/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

Anyone who lost their right to additional GDR pensions after German reunification and now lives in poverty can apply for a one-time payment. The left thinks that the planned fund is “insignificant” and demands more money.

Berlin – Those in need with open pension claims from GDR times can now apply for help of at least 2,500 euros from a planned hardship fund. This was confirmed by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs in Berlin. Decisions should only be made after March 31. The left criticizes the fund and wants to ask for a more comprehensive solution in the Bundestag on Friday: more money and a larger group of recipients. “The last word on the emergency fund must not be said,” said the leader of the parliamentary group, Dietmar Bartsch.

These are certain pension rights that were acquired in GDR times and were not transferred to the German federal system in 1991. These are supplementary pensions, for example, for former employees of the Reichsbahn or the post office, as well as Applications from women who got divorced in the GDR era. According to the left, this affects up to 500,000 East Germans from 17 different professional groups.

The emergency fund, endowed with 500 million euros, is only intended for people on the poverty line. In addition to former GDR citizens, it is also open to the last needy resettlers and the contingent of Jewish refugees. The federal government expects 180,000 to 190,000 people with legitimate claims, including 50,000 to 70,000 East German retirees.

Criteria too harsh?

“This would mean that around 90 percent of those affected, who have been fighting for the recognition of their pension rights for more than 30 years, would get nothing,” the leftist faction complained in its application. The reason for this is that the criteria, namely necessity, are too strict, said Eastern Left Commissioner Sören Pellmann. “The fact that the federal government now only provides 500 million euros for three large groups is a sign of poverty. We demand a fund for justice and compensation for all those affected.

According to the federal government’s plans, the emergency fund will be administered by a foundation. Federal states have the opportunity to contribute financially until March 31. That is one of the reasons why applications that are now possible will only be answered after this date, as a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Affairs said. So far, only Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has publicly committed to contributing money. If there is such state participation, the payment for the beneficiaries in these countries increases from 2,500 to 5,000 euros. dpa

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