Furore as monthly stipends for some elderly disabled Kuwaiti citizens cut

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KD 559 monthly allowance for 319 beneficiaries mulled

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 24: The Public Authority for Disabled Affairs (PADA) has asked elderly Kuwaitis, who are above 65 years of age and who are not receiving monthly allowance based on the rules and regulations issued by it, to visit the Ministry of Social Affairs and demand the payment of elderly pension, reports Al-Qabas daily. The issue related to the elderly Kuwaitis who belong to this category has expanded with the officials confirming the legality of the procedures as per which any disbursement made to them is being considered as debt and must be refunded.

This led the daily to legally question the matter and determine its aspects through the Director of the authority Dr. Shafiqa Al-Awadhi. In this context, Lawyer Abdulaziz Arab expressed his surprise that the commission stopped such an allowance and considered what was previously paid to them as a debt. He said, “The allowance of one of the affected people — the poet Abdullatif Al-Bannai — had been stopped recently, despite the presence of a disability certificate. He had received the allowance on a monthly basis according to the letter issued by the authority and the institution that disbursed it, which is the Public Institution for Social Security. Law No. 8/2010 explicitly specifies that every disabled person is entitled to a monthly allowance, as long as he is not cured of his disability and has no fixed income. The Constitution guarantees the provision of aid in the event of illness or old age. The person may not have any other source of income, as in the case of Al-Bannai.

In this regard, the authority has asked the affected individuals to visit the Ministry of Social Affairs and request for the elderly pension. Furthermore, Lawyer Arab indicated that there are many examples of citizens who are over 65 years old, hold a disability certificate and whose payments had been stopped. He stressed that withdrawing their money from the bank under the pretext of indebtedness without prior notice is a catastrophic matter, especially since “this step came based on the disability authority’s regulation, which did not consider the law even though the latter is higher than the regulation”.

Lawyer Arab also expressed surprise at “the continuation of the payment of driver’s allowance of KD 100 per month, despite the suspension of allowance for those who have a valid disability certificate!” Meanwhile, Director of PADA Dr. Shafiqa Al-Awadhi stressed the keenness of the authority to implement regulations that may not be overlooked or canceled retroactively, adding, “Even if there is an error in the disbursement, the error must be corrected and the public funds must be recovered, as there are supervisory bodies that look into public money.” She explained that, “The Public Institution for Social Security is in charge of payment and recovery. The one that made the recovery is this institution based upon a request from the authority in order to preserve public funds. However, the way the recovery was made was according to that institution’s rules and regulations.”

Minister of Social Affairs and State Minister for Economic Affairs Maryam Al-Aqeel says a study is ongoing to determine the possibility of disbursing social assistance of KD 559 per month to 319 beneficiaries whose disability pensions have been discontinued due to violation of the disability rules and regulations, and the application of the elderly law for cases excluded from the public aid law is being studied. In a statement issued recently, the minister affirmed that this study was launched based on the directives of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, clarifying that the assistance will be offered to those among the aforementioned 319 cases on whom the public assistance law applies. She said, “Through periodic review of the files, the disabled affairs authority has discovered some cases on which the disability law does not apply. Pensions had been disbursed to them in violation of the relevant rules and regulations.” Al-Aqeel added, “Necessary legal action has been taken to suspend the offender in the authority from working and to refer him to the Public Prosecution in July, as well as to work on recovering the amounts that have been disbursed.”

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