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Vulnerable elderly below subsistence level due to complicated rules

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For many elderly people who live below the minimum social subsistence level, laws and regulations appear to be too complicated. As a result, these elderly people are often too anxious or unfamiliar with it and live below the subsistence level for years or even until the end of their lives. And that while the elderly are entitled to various allowances, the national ombudsman concluded from his own research.

Ombudsman Reinier van Zutphen sees that for the sake of convenience, many authorities assume that an elderly person who is entitled to, for example, an additional elderly person’s income or to care or housing allowance, will arrange this himself. “But that is asking too much for many older people. While these schemes should ensure that the elderly do not fall below the subsistence minimum.” The ombudsman believes that the government should proactively seek out these elderly people.

Too few

This concerns elderly people who, due to their low income, receive a supplement to their AOW up to at least the social minimum of €1250 per month for single people, or €1724 per month for married people. But for that group it is so difficult to find the way to these allowances that they often settle for too little.

Van Zutphen believes that it is up to the government to take follow-up steps when they see that there is no application. “If we know who it is and what they are entitled to, why don’t we help them a little better?”

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Same language

In addition to a proactive approach by municipalities and national implementing bodies, elderly people in this financially vulnerable position also benefit from regularly recurring information and intermediaries. Van Zutphen: “They are often around the elderly, speak their language, have knowledge of their culture and take their time.”

In addition, these experts do have the necessary knowledge and can help the elderly with the applications. Intermediaries are therefore arguing for the government to invest more in contact with the elderly and in building up a network of intermediaries.

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More possible

Many government agencies are already taking initiatives to encourage requests for the necessary extra income or resources, but the ombudsman sees that more is possible. Government agencies can improve mutual cooperation and cooperate more with civil society organizations that are committed to the elderly. “It helps if there is a counter in the town hall, district or community center or library where the elderly can go,” says the ombudsman.

The ombudsman investigated the causes of this non-use and focused specifically on older people from retirement age, who live independently and are in a financially vulnerable position. The report makes recommendations to municipalities and national implementing bodies.

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