Old age allowance
Commonly known as "fruit money", the old age allowance is a monthly cash subsidy the Hong Kong government pays to senior citizens aged 65-69 with low incomes, and all elderly citizens aged 70 and over. The Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012 proposed to introduce a new means-tested subsidy called the Old Age Living Allowance, which provides HK$2,200 per month for the needy only.
Means test for old age allowance to stay
The government will simplify the application procedure for its new old-age allowance but will not scrap the controversial means test linked to it, the secretary for labour and welfare said on Tuesday.
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung called on lawmakers to vote for the new allowance, of HK$2,200 per month, when it is tabled in the Legislative Council later this month.
To make the application process easier, he said the government would send notification letters to people receiving the normal or higher old-age allowances.
Those who want to receive the new subsidy will not have to reply to the letter. People should reply only if they do not want, or are ineligible for, the subsidy, he said.
To qualify for the subsidy, single applicants must earn no more than HK$6,600 per month and have assets of no more than HK$186,000. For a couple, the limits are HK$10,520 in monthly income and HK$281,000 in assets.
The means test would not be scrapped, Cheung said – even though parties across the political spectrum are opposing it.
“I hope lawmakers will support this programme,” he said. “Once we get it started, we can review the programme.”
"Means test for old age allowance to stay" Video by Hedy Bok