Grant for the elderly, persons with disabilities and widows stopped in February

Senior citizens, widows and persons with disabilities in the State are awaiting the resumption of their monthly pension which was stopped nine months ago.

The Directorate of Social Security and Pensions stopped the monthly grant of Rs. 400 to the elderly, persons with disabilities and destitute widows, in February following allegations of “misuse” and “malpractices” by beneficiaries. This has hit genuine beneficiaries, whose only source of income is the pension.

“Every day, I used to ask the postman if he had any cheque for me. Later, I started visiting the taluk office to check the status of my pension. Every time I am sent back by the staff there, who give one excuse or the other. Two days ago, I was told that the case worker had gone on leave for 15 days. I am fed up now as I do not have any other source of income. I am already in debt,” Y.G. Lalitha, a widow, of Nandini Layout said.

R. Devaraj, a senior citizen from J.C. Nagar near Kurubarahalli, said the staff at the tahsildar’s office rejected his application saying he had come a day after the last date for submission.

“My son is still studying and I have no other source of income. I could not submit the documents in time owing to ill-health,” he said.

The official reason for discontinuing the pension was that some people claimed both the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, sponsored by the Centre for those without any source of income and caretakers, and the State-sponsored Sandhya Suraksha Yojana, for those above 65 years with an annual income up to Rs. 20,000.

False certificates

Officials said some beneficiaries produced false certificates too to claim disability pension. Following this, the department ordered a door-to-door verification to weed out “illegal” beneficiaries.

Revenue inspectors, who were entrusted with the verification process, used the services of anganwadi workers as they were not given any additional staff. This led to a shoddy execution of the job and it was delayed too.

Admitting that the verification was delayed, K. Gopal Swamy, special tahsildar for Bangalore North Additional taluk that covers 62 BBMP wards, told The Hindu that the situation was the same across the State. Bangalore North taluk tahsildar Suma R. concurred with his views.

“Claims by the physically handicapped were verified first and it is almost complete. The money will be released soon. Simultaneously, we are verifying the claims for old age and widow pensions,” Mr. Gopal Swamy said.

Biometric system

He said the government was planning to use biometric system for pension payment through nationalised banks. “This will help avoid duplication of claims and malpractices. A meeting with managers of nationalised banks will be held later this month,” he said.

“Banks will be asked to open zero-balance accounts for pension beneficiaries. This will ensure that all payments are through the bank. Some beneficiaries were still receiving pension through the post office as they did not have money to open an account,” Mr. Gopal Swamy added.

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