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The DSWD SocPen Program: Why Returning to a Pro-poor Focus is Essential

The Social Pension (SocPen) program, which provides needy senior citizens with a noncontributory monthly pension of PHP 500, has considerably widened the reach of old-age pension coverage in the country. By 2020, the SocPen, together with the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), had provided pensions to 63.1 percent (from only 21.1 % in 2011 when the program started) of the country's senior population. However, the SocPen is not without its challenges. For instance, this Policy Note shows that a considerable share of the program's beneficiaries may not need the assistance, with 2 in 5 senior citizen beneficiaries (41.2%) belonging to the upper 50 percent of the per capita income distribution. Thus, it recommends that the SocPen database should be relinked with the Listahanan to determine the income decile of senior citizens. This way, beneficiaries who do not need the support can be delisted while poor social pensioners can be given bigger benefits. The study also notes that while beneficiaries find the cash stipend helpful, it was deemed inadequate and thus needs to be adjusted for inflation.


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