Delhi govt to issue pension card to senior citizens, NGOs flag concerns on new registrations, identity proof

Following the Delhi government’s social welfare department’s announcement that it will issue pension cards to ease the application process Tuesday, NGOs working to resolve the pension concerns of senior citizens have flagged issues pertaining to new registrations.

“The Delhi government will soon issue pension cards for the elderly and differently-abled. We are preparing the blueprint,” said Social Welfare Minister Rajendra Pal Gautam while chairing a high-level meeting Tuesday.

According to Elderline Delhi, a dedicated national helpline for senior citizens, the capital has so far received 4,235 calls related to the pension from senior citizens or their relatives since it was launched in May 2021. The helpline with a toll-free number –14567 – is run by the Delhi government’s department of Social Welfare, and Helpage India, an NGO working for the elderly, is the implementing agency.

Helpage India runs a couple of old age homes, including one in collaboration with the Delhi metro railway Corporation.

According to Neerja Dasani, deputy director, communications at Helpage India, pension-related calls are the second highest after abuse. “Almost 75% of these calls are either for new pension applications or to check pension application status. Since new pension applications are not being processed by the social welfare department, callers fail to get their issues resolved,” she said. “Even at our old age homes, many people are awaiting pensions,” Neerja added.

Neerja said the Delhi government’s decision to issue pension cards will be positive for existing pensioners, but the government needs to resolve the new registration issue for senior citizens.

Further analysis of the calls received on the helpline showed that the highest number of pension-related calls are from West, North West and East districts of Delhi.

The Delhi government provides a monthly pension of Rs 2,500 to senior citizens above the age of 69, and Rs 2,000 for people in 60-69 age group. The government also provides the same amount of pension to 1.14 lakh differently abled people.

Neerja added that of the 4,235 calls, 2,626 service requests were raised for support for pension cases. “But Elderline hardly does enough, as the new pension application in Delhi has been on hold by the government for the last three years,” Neerja added.

“This has resulted in poor rating and low satisfaction level for Elderline services,” she added.

Healthy Ageing India Research Analyst Shoaib Islam said that the elderly people living in old age homes of the NGO do not have proper identity proof. “We faced issues even during Covid vaccination as well. For pension as well proper identity proofs are required and without which they cannot get it,” said Shoaib.

According to Pinki, project manager at Maitri Sudha, an NGO working for the rights of women, children and senior citizens, of the 193 people aged above 60, with which the NGO is working, 50 per cent have not filled out pension forms.

“Only 5 per cent of the remaining 50 per cent are getting pension. The people who had submitted their form for the pension 2-3 years back, neither received any amount nor information about the submitted forms,” Pinki added.

Similarly, senior citizens living at old age homes run by Healthy Ageing India, an NGO working in the area of elderly care, are also not getting pension, said an official working with the organisation.

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