Manila – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has confirmed that there are no backlogs in distributing the PHP500 monthly social pension to over 4.1 million indigent senior citizens in the Philippines.
According to Philippines News Agency, Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez, spokesperson for the DSWD, addressed reports claiming that the department was facing a backlog in cash aid distribution to about 466,000 seniors. He clarified in a radio interview that these 466,000 individuals are ‘would-be beneficiaries’ who are not currently part of the social pension program due to a need for additional funding.
Lopez emphasized that the DSWD’s distributions to senior citizens are on schedule, with no delays or backlogs in payments. He explained that the current budget for the social pension program in 2023 covers the monthly stipends for more than 4.1 million senior citizens. Approximately 93,000 seniors have been removed from this list for various reasons, including the death of the beneficiaries.
He also highlighted a discrepancy between the number of individuals waitlisted for the program and those exiting, which has resulted in the perceived backlog.
Regarding the increase in the budget for the social pension program in 2024, Lopez stated that it would cover an additional PHP500 to the current monthly stipend, in line with Republic Act (RA) 11916 or an ‘Act Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens.’ This act, which lapsed into law in July 2022, provides for doubling the monthly pension of indigent senior citizens from PHP500 to PHP1,000. The additional pension is expected to be disbursed starting next year, following the approval of the proposed 2024 budget.
To be eligible for the social pension, senior citizens must be frail, sickly, or disabled, without a pension from the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), or any other government and private agency sources, and without any permanent income, compensation, or financial assistance from relatives. The social pension program is designed to help indigent senior citizens meet their daily subsistence and medical needs.