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LCQ3: Disability Allowance and Old Age Allowance
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     Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee Wai-king and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):

Question:

     At present, elderly recipients of Disability Allowance ("DA") are barred from applying for Old Age Allowance ("OAA"). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the number of elderly people who were granted DA in each of the past three years; among them, the respective numbers of those who were barred from applying for Normal OAA and Higher OAA (which are open to application by elderly people aged 65 to 69 and 70 or above respectively) because they had been granted DA; of the amount of annual provision required for granting OAA to those people; and whether it will review that policy; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     Disability Allowance (DA) and Old Age Allowance (OAA) are both under the Social Security Allowance Scheme (the Scheme), but with different target beneficiaries.  The former is for persons who are severely disabled regardless of age; the latter is for persons who are not severely disabled but fall within the definition of elder (65 years old at present) under the Scheme.

     Therefore, severely disabled elders who meet the eligibility criteria for both DA and OAA may choose to apply for either of the allowances. This is to avoid receipt of double benefit.

     Furthermore, since the Scheme is non-contributory and largely non-means-tested, retention of the rule that one cannot benefit from both allowances simultaneously would help ensure the sustainability of the Scheme. The Administration has no plan to review or change this rule.

     As at the end of each of the past three financial years, the number of elders aged 65 or above receiving DA was as follows:

Age          End-March   End-March   End-March  
at the         2009        2010        2011
time
  
65íV69         8 029       8 179       8 584

70 or above   49 250      49 182      49 775

     As DA is non-means-tested, the Social Welfare Department does not have information on the financial situation of the recipients aged 65 to 69 mentioned above, and therefore cannot estimate how many of them would have been eligible for Normal OAA and calculate the amount of payment possibly involved should they receive OAA. As regards the recipients of DA who satisfied the age requirement for Higher OAA, the amount of payment involved would have been about $590 million a year in 2008-09 and 2009-10, and about $620 million in 2010-11, assuming that Higher OAA were paid to them.

Ends/Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:32

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