SOCIAL PENSION. Casiano Uban, 79, of the Matigsalog tribe from Barangay Buda, Marilog District, Davao City claims his Social Pension from DSWD worker Hazel Annelou Cirunay on Monday. Uban is accompanied by grandchild Arlene U. Mongcal. To date, Davao Region has 58,195 qualified indigent senior citizens while Davao City has 8225 based on DSWD records.

Uban is married to Lomingga, 63, who will qualify in the government’s social pension program when she reaches 65 as the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has lowered the age qualification of indigent senior citizens who can receive the P500 monthly social pension as provided for by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Starting this year, indigent senior citizens aged 65 and above will now receive the Social Pension. Originally, only senior citizens aged 77 and above received the pension.

Based on the law, indigent senior citizens or those 60 years old and above are entitled to monthly pension, however, due to limited government resources only those 77 and above were covered by the law up to 2014.

For this year, DSWD’s proposal to lower the age of qualification to 65 was approved by Congress and Senate and has been included in the General Appropriations Act of 2015.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano- Soliman said that with the lower age requirement, more economically disadvantaged senior citizens can have additional cash to spend for their basic needs such as medicines and nutritious food to support their well-being.

For 2015, the government has allocated P5.962 billion to benefit some 939,609 indigent senior citizens aged 65 and above nationwide including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This 2015 budget for the program is P2.853-billion higher from last year’s allocation of P3.108 billion.

Qualified to receive the P500 monthly stipend are senior citizens who are frail, sickly, or have disabilities; are not receiving pension from Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), or Veterans Pension; and do not have a permanent source of income or regular support from family or relatives.

The pension is distributed every quarter through cash payment by DSWD Field Offices or city/municipal social welfare and development offices. DSWD