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.
Old-age allowance will be inflation-adjusted, says welfare chief
The monthly payment and means test for a new old age allowance will be adjusted for inflation as early as February, the welfare chief said on Wednesday morning.
To qualify for the plan, a single person cannot have assets of more than HK$186,000, or earn more than HK$6,600 a month. For a couple, the monthly income limit is HK$10,520 and the asset limit HK$281,000.
Cheung said the HK$186,000 cap will probably rise to more than HK$190,000 next year due to inflation. The monthly income cap and dole amount will also rise, he said, providing no figures.
The asset cap will be adjusted for inflation using the Social Security Assistance Index of Prices, which it uses to adjust CSSA welfare payments to reflect changing prices.
“The new subsidy will be like other welfare schemes in using this index,” Cheung said. “So we believe the asset limit for the new special subsidy will rise to over HK$190,000 by February.”
He insisted the means test is necessary to focus public resources on people who are truly needy – despite demands from various political parties and unions that it be shelved for people over age 70.
The new subsidy should not be linked with a universal pension scheme that many lawmakers are promoting, Cheung said.
“The new subsidy and a pension scheme are two completely different things and should not be mixed up.”
[Video by Hedy Bok: "Everyone should receive the old age allowance"]