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Despite the aches and pains that come with age, growing old still has its perks.
Today, senior citizens enjoy benefits that help ease their financial and health burdens, enhance the quality of their life, and enable them to continue contributing to society.
Below is a closer look at the laws that made this possible, the importance of a senior citizen ID, and the benefits that Filipinos receive when they turn sweet 60.
What Is the Senior Citizen Act?
Republic Act No. 7432, entitled “An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges and for Other Purposes,” was passed in 1992.
It encouraged venues for the elderly to contribute their skills to their communities, boosted government assistance to individuals and institutions caring for them, and mandated the creation of an Office of Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) in every city and municipality.
Moreover, it outlined their privileges which included 20% discounts on selected services.
These benefits were extended under Republic Act No. 9257 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.
Among the additional benefits are educational assistance and express lanes for the elderly and utility discounts for institutions looking after them.
Senior citizen benefits were further increased under Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Among the benefits added are supplementary health services, social pension for indigent elderlies, 5% utility bill discounts, and mandatory PhilHealth coverage.
What Is a Senior Citizen ID?
The senior citizen ID refers to the card issued by the OSCA office of the city or municipality where the elderly individual lives. This locally-issued ID is honored nationwide.
Senior Citizen ID Eligibility & Requirements
To be able to get a senior citizen ID from your local OSCA, you must meet the following criteria:
- at least 60 years old;
- a Filipino citizen;
- residing in your city or municipality for at least six months
How to Get a Senior Citizen ID
The exact requirements may vary per city or municipality, so be sure to visit or call your local OSCA office to ask for the necessary documents and qualifications.
The general steps are as follows:
Step 1: Get a senior citizen ID application form from your local OSCA office, or download one from your local government website.
Step 2: Submit the filled out form to the OSCA office, together with the required documents:
- Copies of recent 1’’x1”’ photos
- Birth certificate
- Any of the following IDs:
If you need help filling out the application form, the OSCA staff may be able to assist you. You can also bring a companion–your child, caregiver, or grandchild–to help provide the necessary personal details.
Step 3: Your municipal/city OSCA office will inform you when your ID is ready for pick-up. Some OSCA offices can process the IDs in 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Before leaving the OSCA office, make sure that all the details in your ID are correct.
How much is the fee for a Senior Citizen ID application?
The processing and issuance of a senior citizen ID and purchase booklet are free.
Senior Citizen Benefits
Being a Filipino senior citizen entitles you to the following advantages:
- 20% discount on selected products and services
- 5% discount basic and prime commodities and utility bills
- Exemption from individual income taxes (for seniors who are minimum wage earners)
- Mandatory PhilHealth coverage
- GSIS and SSS retirement benefits
- Express lanes or priority status in commercial and government establishments
- Free medical and dental services in government facilities, including x-rays, computerized tomography scans, and blood tests
- Employment assistance from the government for elderlies who are able and willing to work
- Educational assistance for those who wish to continue their secondary and higher education, vocational and technical training, or take short-term courses in public and private institutions. The support to senior citizens who meet minimum admission requirements can be in the form of:
- financial aid
- support for books, learning materials, uniform allowance
- Exemption from paying training fees for socioeconomic programs organized by private and government subject to guidelines issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Agriculture, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Department of Science and Technology’s Technology Resource Center (DOST-TRC).
- Social safety nets, such as food, medicine, and financial assistance for home repairs during economic shocks and calamities
- Additional privileges for centenarians: Under Republic Act No. 10868 (Centenarians Act of 2016), Filipinos in the country and abroad who reach 100 years old will receive Php100,000 and a letter of felicitation signed by the Philippine president.
- City/municipality-specific benefits: Some local governments extend additional perks for their senior citizens, like free movies, grocery packs on their birthday, exemption from the number coding scheme, free parking, and hospitalization subsidies. Be sure to ask for these details when you visit the OSCA, so you or your elderly loved one can enjoy these privileges.
- Indigent senior citizens are also given the following benefits:
- free vaccinations against the influenza virus and pneumococcal diseases
- monthly stipend of Php500, released every semester
Indigent elderly individuals are those who are:
- frail, sickly, or with a disability; and
- has no pension from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Armed Forces and Police Mutual Benefit Association (AFPMBAI), or other insurance companies;
- no permanent income source; and
- no regular financial support from relatives to cover their basic needs.
Senior Citizen Discounts & VAT Exemptions
Senior citizens are entitled to 20% discounts and VAT exemptions on:
- Medicines and essential medical supplies, including influenza and pneumococcal vaccines bought from drug stores, hospital pharmacies, medical and optical clinics, and non-traditional outlets
- Domestic transportation via air, water, and land (buses, jeepneys, taxis, AUVs, shuttle services, LRT, MRT, PNR, and ride-hailing services like Grab)
- Lodging establishments like hotels, tourist inns, and apartelles
- Restaurants and fast food chains, including phoned-in food orders, provided that the senior citizen’s ID number can be given over the phone and presented upon the delivery
- Recreational and leisure centers like cinemas, concert halls, amusement parks, gyms, and sports facilities
- Funeral and burial services such as morgue services, cremation, and casket. Memorial lot purchases and expenses for obituary publications are excluded.
- Medical and dental services and laboratory fees in private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services, subject to guidelines issued by the Department of Health and PhilHealth
- Professional fees of medical doctors in private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and home health care services
- Single serving of alcoholic beverages
Aside from these, senior citizens are also entitled to 5% discounts (but no VAT exemptions) on:
- At least four basic necessities and prime commodities bought in supermarkets, groceries, convenience, stores, and bakeries.
Basic necessities include:
- fresh, dried, and canned fish and marine products
- fresh pork, beef, and poultry meat
- fresh eggs
- fresh and processed milk
- fresh vegetables and root crops
- coffee and coffee creamer
- cooking oil
- powdered, liquid, and bar laundry and detergent soaps
Prime commodities include:
- fresh fruits
- dried, processed, and canned pork, beef, and poultry meat
- canned sardines, tuna
- dairy products not listed as basic necessities
- geriatric diapers
- poultry, swine, and cattle feeds
- veterinary products for poultry, swine, and cattle
- nipa shingle, plyboard, construction nails
- electrical supplies and light bulbs
- steel wire
- drugs not classified as essential by the DOH
Note that senior citizens cannot avail of these discounts in wet markets, cooperative stores, small variety (sari-sari) stores, talipapa, food carts and vendors.
There is also a cap of Php1,300 per week for grocery purchases. Unused amounts cannot be carried over to the following week.
- Monthly electricity bills and water bills, with the condition that these are registered in the senior citizen’s name and don’t exceed 100 kwh and 30 cubic meters, respectively.
How to Compute Senior Citizen Discounts for Items with VAT
- Get the gross amount (inclusive of 12%) and divide it by 1.12. The result is the amount net of VAT.
- Multiply the net amount by 20% to get the senior citizen discount.
- To get the final bill, subtract the senior citizen discount from the net amount.
For example, an elderly orders a meal worth Php112 (inclusive of VAT). To get the amount net of VAT:
Php112 / 1.12 = Php100
To compute the senior citizen discount:
Php100 x 20% = Php20
To get the final bill:
Php100 – Php20 = Php80
But if a senior citizen orders a group meal (ex., worth Php2,000 inclusive of VAT) for herself and her three non-elderly friends, you need to divide the gross amount by the number of customers, subtract the 12% VAT, and multiply it by 20%.
[(Gross amount with VAT / No. of customers) – 12% VAT] * 20% = senior citizen discount
[(Php2,000 / 4) -12%] * 20% = Php88 senior citizen discount
Php2,000 – Php88 = Php1,912 final bill
Other Senior Citizen FAQs
What if elderlies forget their OSCA ID. Will they still be given a discount?
Yes. They can just present any valid government-issued ID that shows their age and citizenship, such as their passport, driver’s license, or UMID, PRC, postal, or voter’s ID.
How do senior citizens apply for the 5% discount on their monthly electricity bills?
They can go to the office of their distribution utility and submit the following:
- Proof of age and citizenship
- Proof of birth; OR
- Valid OSCA ID; OR
- Any valid government ID showing their citizenship and age.
- Proof of residence
- Barangay certificate; OR
- Notarized affidavit of two disinterested persons who have known the senior citizen for at least a year
- Proof of billing
- Copy of electric bill named to the senior citizen
Authorized representatives should also bring the following:
- Representative’s valid ID; AND
- Signed or thumb-marked authorization letter from the senior citizen.
Note that the discount applies only on the months that the senior citizen’s bill did not exceed 100kWh. Senior citizens also need to renew their discount application each year.
What components of electric bills are covered by the 5% discount?
According to Resolution No. 23 of the Energy Regulatory Commision (ERC), the senior citizen discount applies only to the following charges:
- basic generation
- system loss
- lifeline discount
- loan condonation (for electric cooperatives, if applicable)
What if a senior citizen cannot go out to buy groceries or medicines, can an authorized representative buy it for them?
Yes. During payment, the representative must present the following:
- The senior citizen’s ID or any valid government ID;
- OSCA purchase booklet;
- Authorization letter signed by the senior citizen; and
- The representative’s valid government ID
What benefits do senior citizens get from SSS?
Members who had less than 120 SSS contributions will get a one-time payment equivalent to their personal and their employers’ contributions plus interest.
Meanwhile, monthly pensions are given to those with at least 120 contributions before retirement.
- Those 60-64 years old and are no longer working are entitled to receive their pension. However, the monthly pension will be temporarily halted if they start working.
- Once they reach 65 years old, they will receive their pension whether or not they are employed.
Pensioners can choose to receive these benefits monthly or get an initial lump sum amount equivalent to 18 months, subject to discount.
Retirees also receive the following privileges:
- 13th month pension every December;
- additional cash benefits as mandated by the government;
- If they have dependents, they are entitled to a dependent’s pension equivalent to 10% of their monthly pension or Php250, whichever is higher. This can only cover up to five dependents.
Should senior citizens stop paying SSS, PhilHealth, and PAG-IBIG contributions?
The SSS allows senior citizens who wish to get a higher pension to make voluntary contributions if they meet the following criteria:
- They are not yet 65 years old; and
- They already have at least 120 monthly contributions.
Members with less than 120 contributions but would like to qualify for monthly benefits are also given an opportunity to complete the required contributions.
Senior citizens who are employed or have regular income need to continue paying their premium contributions.
Senior citizens can save/invest in Pag-IBIG’s MP2 Savings Program if they are:
- active Pag-IBIG Fund members;
- previous members with other monthly income sources; or
- pensioners with at least 24 monthly savings before retirement.
This can be an alternative savings vehicle should they choose to withdraw their Pag-IBIG regular savings at age 60 (optional) or once it becomes mandatory at age 65.
What benefits can the elderly get under Philhealth?
Republic Act No. 10645 has extended PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) to cover all Filipino senior citizens.
This allowed senior citizens and their qualified dependents to enjoy the following benefits:
- Inpatient hospital care
- Day/ambulatory services
- Z benefit packages for serious medical conditions
- Tuberculosis Direct Observed Treatment Short-course (TB-DOTS) package
- Animal bit package
- Malaria package
- Outpatient HIV/AIDS treatment package
- Blood transfusion package
- Maternity and newborn care package
- Normal spontaneous delivery package
- Ante-natal care package
- Benefits for voluntary contraceptive surgical procedures
Senior citizen members are also covered by the No Balance Billing (NBB) Policy. Under the NBB policy, qualified individuals don’t have to pay anything beyond the packaged rates during their confinement.
This applies to all case rates, z benefit packages, primary care benefits, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) benefit, and Ebola Virus Disease benefit package.
Qualified senior citizens can avail of these NBB benefits at:
- All accredited government health care institutions, from hospitals to ambulatory surgical clinics, dialysis clinics, infirmaries, dispensaries, birthing homes, TB DOTS Centers, birthing homes, peritoneal dialysis centers, and primary care benefit (PCB) providers.
- Accredited private health care institutions; and
- Private hospitals who volunteered to implement NBB
Under the Expanded Primary Care Benefit, senior citizens can also avail of health assessments and consultations, medicines, and essential services in accredited health care institutions for the following diseases:
- Acute gastroenteritis with no or mild dehydration
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Pneumonia (minimal and low risk)
- Urinary tract infection
- Diabetes Mellitus Type II
If an establishment has a promo offer, can senior citizens avail of this on top of the 20% senior citizen discount?
No, double discounts are not allowed. For instance, if a restaurant has a buy one, take one meal offer, senior citizens can either choose the promo or avail of the senior citizen discount, whichever is higher.
Similarly, elderly PWD individuals must choose between getting the senior citizen discount or the PWD privileges. They can’t claim both at the same time.
Do senior citizens get a 20% discount each time they buy an airline ticket?
No. The discount applies to domestic flights only, whether it’s purchased online, through mobile apps, over the counter, ticketing offices, or through other means.
The discount does not apply to group bookings, promo fares, international flights, excess baggage, and taxes, penalties, and fees for domestic air travel (such as cargo fees, terminal fees, and ticket extension or rebooking costs).
Do individuals caring for a senior citizen get any support from the government?
Individuals living with and taking care of a senior citizen, whether they are a relative or not, can receive a Php12,000 basic personal tax exemption as head of the family.