Seniors to get pensions boost

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HAMILTON, Bermuda, Nov 15, CMC  -Over 12-thousand  s senior citizens in Bermuda are set to receive a pensions boost after parliamentarians approved a rate increase in time for the Christmas holidays.
Both sides of the House of Assembly supported the Contributory Pension (Amendment of Benefits and Contributions) Order 2017 brought by Junior Finance Minister Wayne Furbert, who said the legislation fulfilled a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) platform pledge to institute annual cost-of-living increases for seniors.
A 1.7 per cent increase for August 2017 will be retroactive, with a windfall in December’s pensions.
A 4.3 per cent rise for pensions is set for August 2018.
The former One Bermuda Alliance administration, ousted in July’s general election, introduced a five per cent increase for seniors last year — the first rise since 2011 when the PLP was previously in power.
Shadow Finance Minister Jeanne Atherden gave her backing to the move but said the island might consider raising the retirement age from 65 given the increase in life expectancy.
That suggestion was supported by PLP MP Derrick Burgess, who said: “We must raise the retirement age for seniors. You will find in Bermuda today many seniors who are walking the streets with nothing for them to do and nobody to hire them, because they are over 65.”
Grant Gibbons, the Shadow Minister of Economic Development, agreed that it would be “useful to look at” raising the retirement age to 67.
However, he added that some might take a “dim view” if they had to wait longer to claim their benefits.
The rise was welcomed by Charles Jeffers, deputy chairman of Age Concern, one of the island’s charities.
“I’m sure every senior will be grateful for these increases. It’s good news with the way insurance costs and medication keep going up.We have to be happy but, on the other hand, we must ask if this is going to be sustainable,” said Jeffers.
Jeffers said the island, which has a population of 65,000, needed to grapple with insurance premiums, copays and medication costs, which result in “horror stories” for Bermuda’s elderly.

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