While doctors and radiologists said the X-rays were unnecessary, applicants have to run from one room to another in government hospitals to get it done

Already marginalised for no fault of theirs, senior citizens, widows and those with disabilities now have one more challenge they are ill-equipped to handle — a complicated, new pension verification process.

Pension applicants among widows, the aged and the physically handicapped (both existing and fresh applicants) have to now submit a medical certificate from government doctors along with X-rays of head, neck and chest (anterior, posterior and lateral views), for age estimation.

The process is cumbersome both for doctors and the applicants.

While doctors and radiologists said the X-rays were unnecessary, applicants have to run from one room to another in government hospitals to get it done.

“We not only have to shell out Rs. 350 for the X-rays but also visit the hospital at least three times to get the certification.

This is because after the doctors write the slip for X-ray, the radiologist gives us a date for the procedure.

After the X-ray is done, the report is available only after two or three days,” said Mehaboob Bee, an 80-year-old from Malleswaram, at the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital.

As other government hospitals are not doing it, almost all applicants are flocking to Bowring Hospital. This has burdened the overworked doctors, especially in the wake of the dengue outbreak.

“Of the two X-ray machines and two radiologists, one is being used solely for pension applicants. More than 700 patients visit the hospital every day. We only have to examine the patients but also fill up their forms as most of them are old and illiterate,” said S. Rajanna, Resident Medical Officer of Bowring Hospital.

Dilshad Zahruddin from Arafatnagar, waiting for her turn, said that she was unable to commute alone and has had to request her neighbour Aslam Khan to accompany her every time to the hospital.

Dr. Rajanna said: “We have to set aside all other work as at least 20 applicants come every day. I am finding it difficult.”

Principal Secretary (Revenue) Ashok Kumar C. Manoli told The Hindu that the new format was prepared in consultation with the Health and Family Welfare Department.

“In our country most do not have a birth certificate or any other document to prove their age. In such cases, X-rays of the teeth and chest are taken to show their age. The new parameters for X-rays for head, neck and chest are compulsory only in cases where the doctors feel it is required,” he said.

Pointing out that the department had not received any representation from applicants about the problems they were facing in getting the X-rays done, he said: “If they approach our officials in the taluk or deputy commissioners’ offices, they will guide them about the requirements.”