500,000 seniors to get pensions

Almost half a million additional seniors will start getting a P500 monthly from the government effective this year, after Congress increased by P3 billion the budget for pensions for indigent elderly Filipinos.

Senator Ralph Recto said those qualified to receive the P500 monthly stipend under the law are senior citizens who are frail, sickly, or have disabilities; are not receiving a pension from Social Security System, the Government Service Insurance System or a veteran’s pension; and do not have a permanent source of income.

Recto called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development to cut red tape and speed up processing the required paper work in the release of the pensions.

Senator Ralph Recto
He said the budget for the government’s social pension program for indigent senior citizens jumped to P8.7 billion this year from P5.7 billion last year, increasing the number of recipients from 939,609 to 1,382,941.

The P500 monthly or P6,000 yearly pension for indigent seniors is pursuant to Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Recto chairs the Senate subcommittee on finance which has oversight on the budget of the DSWD, which runs the program.

Malacañang originally sought P7.5 billion for the program for 2016 but after Recto’s review and lobbying by seniors’ rights advocacy groups, at least 200,000 seniors will not be given pensions.

Upon Recto’s motion, the funding was increased by P1.2 billion to P8.7 billion, the amount authorized in the General Appropriations Act for 2016.

During the debates on the 2015 budget, Recto succeeded in increasing the program’s budget by P1 billion, to P5.7 billion, which allowed DSWD to take in almost a million beneficiaries.

Recto said the DSWD must expedite the identification of the new beneficiaries in order to facilitate the release of checks to indigent senior citizens at the soonest time possible.

The pension is distributed every quarter through DSWD field offices or city or municipal social welfare offices.

While the law granting monthly pensions to economically disadvantaged seniors was passed six years ago, “it is only this year that it will be fully complied with,” Recto said.

Due to limited financial resources, only 80-year-olds and above were enlisted in previous years. The cut-off age was later lowered to 77, until it was brought down to 65 last year.

“By increasing the budget for this program, all indigent seniors 60 years old and above must be covered by the proposed allocation. The policy is no senior left behind,” Recto said.

Topics: seniors , pensions , indigent elderly Filipinos , Ralph Recto
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