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Merger of Normal and Higher Old Age Living Allowance
     The Social Welfare Department (SWD) today (June 20) announced that the merger of the Normal Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) and Higher OALA will be implemented on September 1, 2022, to better support the elderly in need.
     The merged OALA will adopt the more relaxed asset limits of the Normal OALA and the payment rate of the Higher OALA, while the monthly income limits will remain unchanged (details at the Annex). The arrangements will also apply to the Guangdong Scheme and the Fujian Scheme. The merger will directly benefit about 50 000 elderly persons who are currently receiving the Normal OALA.
     An SWD spokesman said that all elderly persons who are receiving the Normal OALA (including those receiving the Normal OALA under the Guangdong Scheme and the Fujian Scheme) before the merger will receive the higher payment rate starting from September 1, 2022, without the need for any application. New eligible elderly applicants will also receive the higher payment rate.
     The merger of Normal and Higher OALA was one of the new livelihood initiatives announced by the Chief Executive (CE), Mrs Carrie Lam, in January 2020. The CE later announced in the 2021 Policy Address that the merger will be implemented in the second half of 2022. The merger will reform the existing OALA scheme and support needy elderly persons more effectively, thereby providing them with more stable retirement protection arrangements. The funding required for the merger was approved by the Legislative Council earlier. After completing the preparatory work such as adjustment of the computer system, the SWD will implement the merger on September 1, 2022.
     Currently, the payment rates of the Normal OALA and the Higher OALA are $2,920 and $3,915 respectively. About 50 000 elderly persons currently receiving the Normal OALA will receive an additional $995 per month after the merger. As for asset limits, the limit for elderly singletons will be raised from $163,000 under the Higher OALA to $374,000 across the board, and the limit for elderly couples will be raised from $247,000 under the Higher OALA to $568,000 across the board. The OALA scheme will be simplified and easily understandable after the merger. Elderly singletons and elderly couples with assets no more than $374,000 and $568,000 respectively can receive the OALA at $3,915 per month while retaining more assets.
     The spokesman added, "The OALA scheme can be applied on an individual or couple basis. It has the greatest number of elderly recipients amongst social security programmes, benefitting over 640 000 elderly persons and accounting for 42 per cent of those aged 65 or above. The Government continued to improve the scheme after launching the OALA in 2013, including raising the asset limits in 2017, launching the Higher OALA in 2018, and extending the scheme to benefit elderly persons retiring in Guangdong and Fujian in 2020. Taking into account the latest merger, the estimated recurrent expenditure for the OALA scheme amounts to $31.4 billion in 2022-23, which has more than doubled the actual expenditure in 2017-18, and is over 2.5 times the actual expenditure in 2013-14. The estimated recurrent expenditure for the OALA scheme accounts for about 30 per cent of the overall expenditure on social welfare in 2022-23.
     "The current-term Government has strived to enhance people's livelihoods in face of immense challenges. Nearly 100 new welfare initiatives were announced in the Chief Executive's five Policy Addresses and their Policy Agendas/Supplements to benefit the community. The Government recurrent expenditure on social welfare has increased by more than 70 per cent from $65.3 billion in 2017-18 to $111.8 billion in 2022-23. These efforts in supporting the disadvantaged and caring for the elderly will contribute to building a harmonious and inclusive society in Hong Kong."
     For enquiries, please call SWD's OALA enquiry line (3595 0130) or Guangdong Scheme and Fujian Scheme enquiry line (3105 3266).
Ends/Monday, June 20, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:20
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