A former concentration camp prisoner attends a ceremony at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, on Holocaust Day, January 27, 2014. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Polish government has widened the parameters for those who are eligible for monthly pensions. A new law will allow Holocaust survivors of Polish descent, as well as Polish victims of Soviet persecution, who are no longer living in Poland to be eligible for monthly stipends of roughly $135, the Times of Israel reports.

Prior to the change, people of Polish descent who were recognized as veterans or victims of oppression could receive the monthly benefits only if they had a bank account in Poland or knew a resident of Poland who was willing to transfer the money to them. Only very few people living outside Poland – reportedly less than 50 — actually applied for pensions.

As we reported in January, the number of Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the New York area alone is staggering, which makes this development of particular note.

According to the website for Poland’s Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, the organization responsible for determining and administering the pensions, the guidelines for who is considered a victim of oppression are fairly detailed.

The Victims of Oppression are persons who suffered the most acute political, ethnic and racial persecutions on part of the totalitarian regimes: the Nazi regime of 1939-1945, the Soviet one of 1939-1956 and the Polish communist regime of 1944-1956. This group of eligible beneficiary includes persons confined to prisons, penal camps and ghettoes, and also deported deep into the Soviet Union. An additional category cosists of children taken away from their parents for the purposes of either extermination or germanization.

The change goes into effect for European Union residents in October 2014, and will be instituted elsewhere in April 2015.

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