Common age for senior citizen benefits on anvil

Written by Surabhi Rastogi | Surabhi | New Delhi, Dec 30 | Updated: Dec 31 2007, 05:49am hrs
The government may set a common age for senior citizens to get benefits like tax rebates, concessional travel tickets and other conveniences. At present, the age criteria for availing senior-citizen benefits differ across government agencies.

Sources said, the government was looking into the possibility of having a common age for senior citizens for all purposes. This is aimed at doing away with confusion arising out of different age groups that exist.

The Centre would also ensure that the quality of services provided to the elderly improve, said a government official. But the government is yet to freeze an age-group for senior citizens who would be reached such benefits. A proposal to this effect has been mooted. If accepted, it was likely to be included place in Budget 2008-09, the sources added.

The railways consider those above the age of 60 years as senior citizens and provides them discounted tickets. But, for availing income tax rebates and other tax related benefits, those above 65 years are considered senior citizens. Incidentally, the railways in 2003 had reduced the age limit for senior citizens from 65 years to 60 years.

Airlines also have age criteria that range from 60 to 65 years for senior citizens to avail of tickets at concessional rates.

Meanwhile, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, has defined a senior citizen, who can access various schemes in the ambit of the Act, as one who is above 60 years. But the system lacks uniformity, as evident from the fact that the national old age pension scheme is available to the destitute who are above the age of 65 years.

A proposal to this effect is with the government and its approval will be a big move because no other country has a specified age to determine who is a senior citizen and who is not.