Knowing the benefits and privileges of senior citizens

Laws that provide benefits and privileges to senior citizens have long been passed and implemented yet there are still some elderlies who do not know about the scope of discounts on certain items and services.
This cropped up during the consultation dialogue by the Regional Inter-agency Committee of Senior Citizens (RIASC), Regional Coordinating and Monitoring Board (RCMB) and the Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (RFSCAP), together with the Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (RFSCAP).
Edith Ibarra, a senior citizen leader in Baguio City, bats for continuous information education campaign on the laws for senior citizens so that they could fully enjoy the benefits and privileges due them in their golden years .
Under Republic Act No. 7432, as amended by RA No. 9257(“Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003”) , and further amended by RA 9994, known as the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, ” defines senior citizen or elderly as any resident citizen of the Philippines at least 60 years old.
Senior citizens are entitled to 20% discount and exemption from the value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services for their exclusive use. Among these are the purchase of medicines and essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment; professional fees of attending physicians and licensed health workers as well as on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services.
They are also entitled to 20% discount on fare for domestic transportation services. Many elderly do not know that the 20% discount also applies to taxis.
This also applies to restaurants, hotels and similar lodging establishments, and recreation centers. Seniors should be reminded though that the discount only applies to them.
Also subject to the 20% discount are admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, leisure and amusement. In some local government units like Baguio City, SM Cinema Baguio is offering free movies to senior citizens who are residents of the city once a day from Monday to Friday.
When they die, there is discount for their funeral and burial services.
The law also provides grant of a minimum of 5% discount on water and electric bills registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein, and provided that the monthly consumption does not exceed 100 kilowatt hours of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water:
Seniors can also get a 5% discount without VAT exemption on certain groceries identified by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture.
For groceries worth up to Php1,300 per week, they can enjoy 5% off the retail prices of at least four kinds of the following basic necessities and prime commodities: rice, bread, and corn; chicken, beef, and pork; fresh eggs; coffee, creamer, and sugar; fresh fruits and vegetables; garlic and onions; cooking oil and salt; noodles, canned sardines, and canned tuna; fresh milk and other dairy products; detergents; electrical supplies, light bulbs, and batteries and geriatric diapers.
Senior citizens though cannot avail of this special discount in sari-sari stores, stores, and wet markets.
As the government cares for the health of senior citizens, they have mandatory PhilHealth coverage as stipulated in RA 9994. When they are confined in private hospitals, they can avail of PhilHealth benefits in addition to the 20% discount and VAT exemption. In government hospitals, the No Balance Billing Policy applies.
To augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs, the government also provides monthly social pension amounting to Php500.00 to indigent senior citizens.
Another privilege of senior citizens is the provision of express lanes for them in all commercial and government establishments.
For the 60 and above citizens to enjoy these benefits and privileges, they must present their senior citizen ID issued by the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA). They may present their government-issued ID that shows their age in the absence of senior citizen ID but not all establishments honor this. That is why it is very important that they apply for their senior citizens ID at the OSCA or the Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD) in their respective city or municipality.
An elderly should get a senior citizen identification card and present it whenever needed to avail of the benefits and discounts, Amelyn Cabrera of DSWD Cordillera reiterated.
Weak or bedridden senior citizens can still avail of the discount especially in the purchase of their medicines and groceries. They only have to make and sign an authorization letter for their duly authorized representatives, who will present it along with his senior citizens’ ID, OSCA purchase booklet and their own government–issued ID when paying for the purchases.
Senior citizens discounts are not only for the benefit of the elderly as these are a big reprieve for families and breadwinners, Cabrera said.
Recently, Philhealth-Cordillera and its partners launched a handbook that aims to improve the health-seeking behavior of senior citizens in the region. Called “My Personal Health Handbook-the Cordillera Senior Citizen Booklet,” it aims to record medical findings, availment of health services on outpatient and in-patient basis in different health facilities and document all benefits availed by the senior citizens and their qualified dependents. **JDP/JBZ- PIA CAR

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