Gov’t mulls early pension payoutsThe government is considering a move that would allow pensioners to receive payouts earlier, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Sunday.
The change would allow anyone who has made payments for five years to be eligible for payouts instead of the current 10 years.
Sources from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, National Pension Service and National Assembly said the government is considering the move because of rising concerns about poverty among senior citizens.
Around 21.6 million people are currently enrolled in the state pension program, five times the figure in 1988, when it was first created. The number of monthly pension recipients, which was 1,798 in 1989, has shot up to 4.3 million as of June 2017.
Amid the rising number of Koreans joining the pension fund, the number of people who have failed to make payments for at least 10 years has also increased, leading to calls for the government to come up with solutions for those who can potentially become isolated from the welfare service.
According to data compiled by the National Pension Service, among the 21.6 million members, around 3.9 million have suspended their monthly payments due to various reasons, including unemployment. Around 1 million have also delayed their payments for more than 12 months.
The number of people who had their payments refunded because they failed to fulfill the requirement for 10 years also increased. The data showed that 127,000 people, mostly in the lower income bracket, were refunded their payments.