The HK$2,200 new, means-tested old age living allowance will be made available to some 290,000 elderly people starting from April, the government said on Thursday.
The new allowance, which will be launched in three phases, comes after months of delays in the Legislative Council as lawmakers attempted a filibuster to demand that the government to scrape the means-test or ease its limits.
At a press conference on Thursday, Director of Social Welfare Patrick Nip said the first phase would involve an auto-conversion of some 290,000 existing recipients of the so-called “fruit money” to the new scheme.
These recipients will receive the payments in their designated bank accounts if they do not raise objections to the change after a letter is sent to them by the Social Welfare Department.
The second phase will involve recipients of another old age allowance and the disability allowance applying directly for the new benefit. The third phase will allow elderly people currently not receiving existing welfare, but in need of financial support, applying for the benefit.
The payments will be retroactive to December 1, last year.
The department also announced on Thursday the income and assets limits for applicants eligible to receive the allowance.
A single-person applicant has to have a monthly income of less than HK$6,880 and a total asset of less than HK$193,000. The total monthly income for a married couple cannot exceed HK$10,940 and their total assets have to be less than HK$292,000.