Dismay as seniors wait for pension rise
Seniors say they face struggling to pay grocery bills for another month after learning their pension increase won’t come through until September.The Royal Gazette: “We were told we were going to receive the increase in August but it never came. When I called up they told me we’d get it in September.The Royal Gazette, the Department of Social Insurance released this statement to the media last night: “The Department of Social Insurance has been contacted by a few pensioners questioning why the recent increase in Social Insurance payments was not reflected in the payments received in August.
Elderly people were expecting a three percent rise in August’s pension following a pledge by Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox earlier this summer.
However, they’ve now been told they won’t feel the benefit of the hike until they pick up their pensions on September 15.
Ms Cox previously announced the order would come into effect in August; however it was always planned to come into effect on August 16, the day after seniors collected their monthly pensions.
One 73-year-old Sandys woman told
“I was looking forward to being able to buy a loaf of bread, a quart of milk and maybe even a potato but now I’ll have to wait.”
Louise Jackson, the One Bermuda Alliance spokeswoman for seniors, said she had been contacted by scores of distressed elderly people who said they were hoping for the cash to help pay for groceries and medicine.
The increase comes after MPs passed an amendment to the Contributory Pensions Order raising the basic contributory pension from $951 per month to $982 per month; and the maximum from $1,326 per month to $1,385 per month.
Last month, Ms Cox told the House of Assembly: “The purpose of the order is to increase pensions and other benefits under the Contributory Pensions Act 1970 by three percent with effect from August 2011.”
But many seniors were seemingly unaware the order paper approved by MPs that night stated: “This order comes into effect on 16th August, 2011.”
The Sandys senior, who asked not to be named, said: “I called the Finance Ministry and they just jackass you around as usual: here, there and everywhere. They finally put me through to a woman who tried to explain it’s something about the calendar year and we won’t be paid until September 15. Can you imagine how that felt for those of us who were waiting for August 15?
“What’s going on? We have worked hard all our lives and they are sitting on our shoulders. Show us some respect. Some poor seniors can’t buy food. I’m sick of this.”
Mrs Jackson said: “I have been deluged with calls from seniors who, after a pension freeze of two years, were waiting for this increase as many of them are financially hard-up in these times.
“The healthcare costs have skyrocketed and under FutureCare if you’re 70 you are paying $635 a month. People were looking forward to this.
“It might seem to be a small amount for some people, but for seniors it’s an amount they can use to buy medicines and other things they just can’t afford.
“Government said August and now it’s September. It’s a hardship for these seniors, there’s no doubt about it, and it again shows the inefficiencies of this Government.
“This is not a responsible, caring Government, and it always seems to be the vulnerable that are affected by things like this.”
Following a number of inquiries regarding this story by
“The Department would like to remind pensioners, that the recent three percent increase took effect on August 16, 2011. As by law, social insurance payments are paid in arrears, and the increase will be reflected in the next payment which is due in mid September.
“The Payment year for the Contributory Pensions Fund starts on August 16, every year, and thus all increases in payments passed by parliament take effect on that date in the given year.
“Any pensioner who has any questions is invited to call the Department of Social Insurance on (441) 294-9242 or via e-mail at socialinsurance[AT]gov.bm”