MORE than one-quarter of Hongkong workers over the age of 60 will have to work until the day they die, according to the Society of Community Organisations (SOCO). Reviewing the rights of the elderly in 1992, SOCO director, Mr Ho Hei-wah, said yesterday that more of Hongkong's old people were getting poorer, and a growing number were falling below the poverty line. ''In 1991, we had 46,091 elderly below the poverty line. This rose by eight per cent to 50,091 in 1992 - the highest annual increase. And one-quarter of the total still need to work. They will never be able to retire. They will have to work until they drop dead,'' he said. SOCO's other major worry is that too many elderly people see themselves as a burden to their families, even to the extent that they might consider committing suicide, as well as the suspected increase in the number of cases of abuse of the elderly. Mr Ho said the situation was not helped by the fact that some politicians and groups, such as the Co-operative Resources Centre, were proposing to ''dump'' Hongkong's elderly on China. ''We have many cases which show this is not the best way to solve the problem. Things are always good at the start, because our elderly take their money with them to the mainland. Their problems begin in earnest when that money runs out. ''What people here tend to forget is our people have to pay for everything on the mainland. They don't qualify for medical benefits or local treatment and they are charged foreigner rates,'' he said. Mr Ho added that the Government had been unwilling to provide more flats for the elderly. ''We still have 50,000 people in old private premises - cages, cubicles and cocklofts. This is two years after we were promised improvements in cage accommodation for the elderly. Nothing has happened.'' SOCO is angered by rumours that the Central Committee on Care for the Elderly - a watchdog group proposed by Legislative Councillors to look into co-ordinating services for the old - has been dismissed by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Elizabeth Wong Chien Chi-lien. He said that the Government had wanted to establish an internal working group, which would then bring in non-government organisations to hammer out concrete proposals for the elderly in the White Paper on Social Welfare. A senior government official confirmed the committee had been shelved for 18 months, because although homes were not a problem, day care centres were the sticking point. ''We are in the unusual position of having the funding available, but not the premises,'' the source said. The White Paper on Social Welfare calls for the setting up of another 70 centres for the elderly between now and 1997. Looking at what was in store for 1993, Mr Ho said the biggest worry was ''the open door of south China. This is affecting more lower income families, with more unemployment and under-employment. Traditionally, shrinking family incomes have meant belt-tightening. When that happens it is usually the elderly who go without''. ''We need public assistance to be real. Not rise superficially from $825 to $950. This is cosmetic and cannot compensate for inflation over the past several years. It needs to rise at least $1,891 to begin to have any effect.'' SOCO is also pushing for the immediate setting up of the Central Committee on Care for the Elderly and a revision of the compulsory retirement scheme, which it wants to see extended to all.