identifying elderly poor in the Philippines

The National Household Targeting Office of the Philippines continues to eliminate beneficiaries ‘not poor enough’ from its list of social pensioners. This difficult, arduous task will be carried out, district by district, until pensioners in all 17 districts are visited.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 [Soccsksargen] is targeting … the special validation for its social pension beneficiaries in the area.

Ashraf Dirampatan, regional field coordinator of the DSWD’s National Household Targeting Office (NHTO), said Monday they are currently finalizing their preparations for the region-wide validation ….

He said … that only the indigent senior citizens … should be paid … benefits. ….

The social pension program was implemented by the DSWD two years ago based on the provisions of Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010.

Under the program, qualified beneficiaries will receive a monthly stipend of P500 [US$12] to help augment their daily subsistence and medical needs.

The priority beneficiaries are senior citizens aged 77 years-old and above who are frail, sickly and with disabilities, without a regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies. ….

The data gathered from the validation will be subject to proxy means testing to determine whether the household assessed is poor or not, he said.

“Beneficiaries … found unqualified for the program will immediately delisted from the monthly pension payments,” he said.

Social pensioners in Region 12 to undergo validation“, Mindanews, 19 May 2014.

The minimum wage in the Philippines is P429 per day of work, so a monthly pension of P500 a month is less than 5% of a minimum wage.

Targeting is subject to two types of error: inclusion and exclusion. Almost everywhere, governments pay more attention to errors of inclusion (giving benefits to the non-poor), which increase fiscal cost without harming the poor, than errors of exclusion (missing those who qualify for benefits), which reduce fiscal cost while harming those wrongly excluded from benefits. The Philippines is not an exception to this general observation.

Older people move in and out of poverty. An elderly person who lives alone in poverty technically becomes non-poor if he (or she) moves in with children or grandchildren who are better off. It is not clear how often ‘validation’ of elderly poverty will be implemented, but it should be done often, to minimize errors of inclusion.

I have come across no information on the costs of the validation programme. It would be interesting to learn what these costs are, as a percentage of benefits disbursed. My suspicion is that they are high, possibly in excess of 100%.

Previous blogs on this subject can be accessed here and here and here and here.

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