Ineligible seniors said to receive pensions

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Ineligible seniors said to receive pensions

Dozens of people over the age of 65 who live in one of Seoul’s most expensive apartments complexes have been receiving a monthly basic pension payment of 97,000 won ($90), which should only be given to senior citizens in the lower 70 percent income bracket.

Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Yong-ik said yesterday in a press release that 56 seniors who live at the high-end residential complex Tower Palace in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, have been beneficiaries of the current senior basic pension plan, which pays 97,000 won a month to seniors whose income is below the 70th percentile. The price for one Tower Palace apartment exceeds 1 billion won.

The doctor-turned-lawmaker said those 56 people received the benefits because of a loophole in the current pension plan, which does not track the income level of seniors’ children or the amount of money those children inherited from their parents. He added that 29 of those 56 seniors show a record of earning zero income, which would make them eligible for the monthly basic pension program.

The lawmaker said the government needs to overhaul the way it tracks elderly income earners in order to prevent further unfairness under the new basic pension plan for seniors, announced by the Park Geun-hye government last week, which will give out between 100,000 won and 200,000 won to seniors in the lower 70 percent income bracket starting July 2014.

However, the plan is a considerable retreat from Park’s campaign promise last year to make a basic pension available to everyone aged 65 and over, regardless of their?income levels.

The scaled-back plan has drawn strong backlash from the opposition and even from the minister in charge of carrying out the plan, Chin Young, who formally stepped down as health minister on Monday over changes in the pledged program, said it was a matter of keeping his conscience intact.

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