‘Age limit under welfare schemes must be brought down to 60 years'
The Committee on the Welfare of Senior Citizens of the State Assembly has recommended that the age limit for payment of old age pensions to the poor should be lowered to 60 years (The present limit is 65 years under the National Old Age Pension Scheme). In its report submitted to the House, the committee also called for increase in the income limit for determining eligibility for pensions.
The committee observed that the disbursement of pensions from many welfare schemes was getting delayed. Pensions must be disbursed on time. Many elderly persons were not applying for pension as they did not know about the schemes. So, action should be make the needy aware of the pension schemes.
The committee also observed that members were yet to be appointed to the district and State councils, formed under the policy on elder persons announced in 2006 and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Rules notified in 2009. The matter should be expedited.
It also recommended that a supervisory set-up be established so that the system for handling complaints of senior citizens functioned satisfactorily. Proper inspection and auditing should be done regarding funds sanctioned for maintenance of old age homes. Facilities for counselling should be made mandatory for sanctioning grants to old age homes.
It suggested new centres for the aged affected by incurable diseases and needing long term treatment or palliative care. Geriatric care should be included in the subjects of study for nurses and opportunities should be provided for specialisation in the area. Special training should be given to home nurses. Special counters should be opened in hospital for senior citizens for consultations and purchase of medicines.
Identity cards should be issued to all senior citizens and steps taken to prevent drawing of pension under more than one scheme. It must be ensured that the elderly got the seats reserved for them in buses. Special ticket counters should be opened for them at railway stations.
The committee also proposed that cases involving senior citizens steps should be disposed of quickly. A helpline should also be set up for the elderly.
Keywords: old age pension