A 73-year-old man is challenging as unconstitutional a legal requirement that a person must have been living in Hong Kong the year before becoming eligible for old-age allowance. Lawyers for Lam Wo-lun, 73, argued in the Court of First Instance that the requirement was discriminatory and infringed his right to social welfare and right to travel. Under what is usually referred to as the 'fruit money' scheme, applicants for the HK$1,035 a month must be permanent residents aged 65 or over and must immediately before application have lived in Hong Kong continuously for a year - an absence of 56 days is allowed during that time. The court heard that Lam, a retired permanent Hong Kong resident, spent more than two-thirds of his time on the mainland, staying with relatives, because of the lower living costs. Lam's application was rejected in 2008 because he had spent too much time on the mainland. After that he stopped travelling, applied for 'fruit money' again and was accepted in October last year. He is asking the court to quash the director of social welfare's decision to reject his original application and the dismissal of his subsequent appeal. He also wants the court to declare that the requirement of a year's continuous residency violates the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Lawyer Hectar Pun Hei, for Lam, said the old-age allowance was designed to provide assistance to cater for special needs of older people and should be regarded as a kind of welfare. He argued that the requirement was a 'disproportional limit' to people's right to welfare guaranteed by the Basic Law. He emphasised that Lam was not entitled to any welfare on the mainland and had to return to Hong Kong every six months. But Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon questioned whether the allowance should be considered as welfare, as the constitutional right to welfare could be satisfied through the Comprehensive Social Security Allowance (CSSA), a higher payment, which goes to the poorest. It was pointed out that people who received CSSA were not entitled to 'fruit money'. David Pannick QC, for the government, said the one-year rule served a 'legitimate aim' to identify the people who had long-term connections with Hong Kong. He pointed out that people who stayed outside Hong Kong for work or medical reasons were exempt from the restriction. And the barrister said that scrapping the requirement would mean additional government expenditure of HK$593 million a year. Judge Lam reserved his judgment. 65-69 People between these ages must show a monthly income of less than HK$6,360 and assets below HK$171,000 to get 'fruit money'