Shipman & Goodwin LLP has announced that it is once again donating free legal services and coordinating a pro bono effort to assist eligible Holocaust survivors in Connecticut in receiving pensions from the German government.
This new effort was made possible by decisions issued in 2009 by the German Federal Social Court that allow survivors who worked in German-controlled ghettos to apply or reapply for pensions under more liberalized requirements. Those court decisions should dramatically increase the number of approved applications. Previously, the German government interpreted the rules very strictly and made eligibility nearly impossible. Shipman & Goodwin participated in a 2008 initiative to assist former ghetto residents to apply for reparations, which resulted in a number of individuals receiving a one-time payment of 2,000 Euros.
Throughout Connecticut, a number of agencies, including Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford, are reaching into the survivor community to spread the word about the program. Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit legal services organization, has been spearheading this landmark project around the country, including coordinating training for attorneys.
A volunteer team of 12 attorneys and 3 paralegals from Shipman & Goodwin’s Hartford and Stamford offices, along with members of Aetna Inc.’s corporate law department, recently participated in a training session to become well-versed in the new requirements and application process.
“Since the German court’s 2009 decision, the results of the ghetto survivors’ applications have been very good, with some applicants receiving substantial lump-sum back payments as well as monthly pensions going forward,” said Andrew Zeitlin, a partner at Shipman & Goodwin who is coordinating the effort.
For more information, contact Andy Zeitlin at Shipman & Goodwin LLP, (203) 324-8100.