Eligible age for social welfare benefits to be reduced to 75 hinh anh 1A doctor measures the blood pressure of an elderly woman at the Centre for Social Protection of Hai Duong province (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs will propose that the Government reduce the eligible age for social welfare benefits from 80 to 75, said Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung.

He was speaking at a meeting reviewing the State’s responsibility in the implementation of social policies for senior citizens and people with disabilities held on August 6.

Vietnam has over 11 million senior citizens and 6.5 million people with disabilities. About 7.2 elderly people live in the country.

The majority of these people face difficulties and have limited access to social services.

“The current level of social assistance for the elderly and people with disabilities is low, equal to 30 percent of the urban poverty line and 40 percent of the rural poverty line. Rehabilitation work, especially psychological, is still very poor,” he said.

It was very difficult for them to access information and they faced problems in transportation, Dung said.

The most obvious example was that not many lanes had been dedicated to support people with disabilities while building public facilities.

As about 40 percent of elderly Vietnamese citizens continued to work after retirement, it was essential for the country to develop solutions to cope with an ageing population including policies which create favourable conditions for old people to work, Dung said.

According to forecasts by the United Nations, the proportion of Vietnam's population over 65 will be around 12.9 percent by 2030 and 23 percent by 2050.

In response to a question from Dang Thuan Phong, deputy chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs, on whether people with autism were regarded as disabled or not, Dung said it was true, adding that the issue has been stipulated in a ministry circular issued earlier this year.

He said that the numbers of people with autism and with mental disorders were on the rise in many localities.

“In some localities, due to a lack of space, drug addicts receive care in the same place as people with mental disorders. After inspection, the ministry demanded that they be cared for separately.”

Participants at the meeting blamed the shortcomings in the implementation of the legal framework on social allowance to the elderly and people with disabilities on the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and local authorities who failed to perform their assigned tasks.

They suggested the NA and relevant agencies complete legal documents on the elderly and disabled people to meet the demand of an ageing population and the increase in the number of people with disabilities.

It was necessary for the Government to set a social allowance rate in accordance with the poverty line, the participants said.

Dung said currently, the policy on the elderly and people with disabilities had been adequate and comprehensive, but enforcement was still weak at the grass-roots level.

Many people still consider disabled people a burden and inadequate attention had been paid to these people.

Dung said the ministry would adjust some policies for the elderly and divide people with disabilities into groups in line with each level to have an appropriate approach. - VNS/VNA