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SWD reminds elderly to return OALA Postal Review Forms
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     A spokesman for the Social Welfare Department (SWD) today (March 9) reminded elderly persons who have benefited from the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) under the Phase 1 íV Auto-conversion arrangement to return duly completed and signed Postal Review Forms to the SWD within one month from the date of issuance of the blue notification letter, for updating their case information and verification of their continued eligibility for receiving the OALA. Up to now, about 170 000 Postal Review Forms have been returned to the Department.

     The SWD issued blue notification letters enclosing the Postal Review Forms on February 17 to about 270 000 elderly persons who were granted OALA under the Auto-conversion arrangement, to advise them on the details of the postal review. Upon receipt of the notification letter, the elderly persons concerned should provide declarations of their and/or their spouses' (if applicable) income and assets by mailing the duly completed Postal Review Form within one month from the date of issue of the notification letter (i.e. on or before March 16) to the Social Welfare Department, PO Box 2200, Kowloon East Post Office, Kowloon.  

     The spokesman said, "If those OALA recipients who have benefited from the Phase 1 íV Auto-conversion arrangement have not yet provided their income and asset details, they are advised to return the duly completed and signed Postal Review Form to the SWD as soon as possible, otherwise, the department will not be able to verify their continued eligibility for the OALA. If the recipients fail to return the Postal Review Form before the deadline due to special reasons such as absence from Hong Kong, they should return the form to the department as soon as possible. If they have moved but without informing the SWD, they should update the SWD with their new address so that we can re-issue the Postal Review Form to them."

     He added, "The SWD will, based on the information on income and assets provided by the recipients, verify whether they will continue to be eligible for the OALA. If the recipients still meet the income and asset requirements, they will continue to receive the OALA payment, currently $2,285 per month. For recipients who do not meet the income and/or asset requirements, they will receive the OALA payment up to the expiry of the 24-month grace period (i.e. November 30, 2014). The SWD will arrange to stop OALA payments to ineligible recipients starting from December 2014 and notify them separately in writing. If the ineligible recipients are aged 70 or above, the non-means-tested Old Age Allowance, currently $1,180 per month, will be arranged for them instead. In future, if their and their spouses' (if applicable) income and assets meet the prescribed limits of OALA, they may apply for the allowance again."

     The OALA service hotline 3595 0130 has been enhanced to 15 lines to handle public enquiries during office hours. From February 17 to March 7, the hotline has received over 17 000 telephone enquiries. Members of the public can also call the 24-hour hotline on 3142 2202. For details about the OALA, please visit the SWD website: www.swd.gov.hk/oala/index_e.html . The website also contains information and frequently asked questions on the postal review.

     The spokesman said that the OALA aims to supplement the living expenses of Hong Kong elderly persons aged 65 or above who are in need of financial support. To be eligible for the OALA, an applicant must satisfy the income and asset requirements.

     When rolling out the OALA in April last year, the SWD devised a set of simplified application procedures to enable eligible elderly persons to receive the allowance as early as possible. Under the Phase 1 - Auto-conversion arrangement, eligible recipients were granted the OALA without having to declare their and/or their spouses' (if applicable) income and assets. As indicated in the notification letter sent to these recipients in February last year, these recipients are subject to a postal review in 2014, and they are required to provide declarations of their and/or their spouses' (if applicable) income and assets to the SWD for updating their case information and verification of their continued eligibility for receiving OALA.

Ends/Sunday, March 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:01

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