Press Release by the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights: The 7th increase to the pensioners
Reference Number: PR211879
“During the year 2022, the expenditure on social benefits is going to amount to nearly €1.2 billion, the majority of which will be going towards pensions for approximately 95,000 pensioners. We are there for the people, for the potential of every Maltese and Gozitan. Thus, we are investing in the people, and not wasting money. This is in contrast to the Opposition, which considers this investment as a waste of money and just for show”, emphasised the Minister for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights, Michael Falzon, whilst he was addressing a news conference linked in theme to the increase in pensions, which were announced in the Budget for the upcoming year.
The Minister Michael Falzon stated that this Government had kept it’s word with all the pensioners, who will be benefiting from an increase of €5 per week; €3.25 being the additional increase and €1.75 being the increase for the cost of living.
In this manner, every pensioner will benefit from an increase of €260 per year. This increase in social security for all pensioners is being carried-out via an investment of €24 million. Thus January 2022 will result in the introduction of the seventh consecutive increase in pensions.
Minister Michael Falzon claimed that every pensioner had received an increase of €14.18 per week, when one compares the year 2022 to the year 2018. The Minister stated that not only was the promise of the Electoral Manifesto kept, but that the sum originally agreed upon was exceeded by nearly double the amount. When one factors in the sum which includes the increases for the cost of living, this grows upwards by another €11.07 to €25.25.
Every pensioner has received an increase of at least €737.36 per year, via direct increases in pension, upon comparing the year 2022 to the year 2018. If the increases for the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) are also further added, the total increase amounts to €1,313.
The increases in pensions started-out across two categories in the year 2016, and continued throughout the year 2017, where these applied for pensioners on minimum wage, as well as age pension.
From 2018 onwards, the increases started to be issued out to all pensioners.
Minister Falzon said that the Government appreciates the great work that pensioners have carried-out in the past, for which reason the Government will always remain grateful to them, and will continue to acknowledge their commitment to society. Minister Michael Falzon noted that during a year of pandemic outbreak. despite everything, there was a reduction in people 65+ at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
Minister Falzon stated that, for the first time, 1,200 persons are to start receiving a pension. This is after situations were continued to be addressed, in which individuals, although having paid 10 years of social security contributions, still did not have enough social security contributions paid, in order to be able to receive their pension. This year justice was carried-out amongst more than 800 persons, with the majority of them being women, who qualified for a reduced retirement pension by having taken in consideration the social security contributions that they had paid for, whilst they were in employment, before having reached the age of 19 years.
To this day, there are still around 1,200 persons who have paid at least 10 years of social security contributions, but who are still not yet entitled to a pension, due to not having paid for social security contributions from January 1979 onwards. These are also to start qualifying, as from now on, for the equivalent of the lowest rate of the Two-Thirds Pension, which is approximately €50 per week, with a total expenditure of €3.2 million.
In addition to this, persons who have reached the age of 59 years, who have missing social security contributions and who are receiving an invalidity pension, will also be able to pay for up to 5 years of contributions backdated in turn.
Additional sectors of pensioners who are to benefit from increases:
- Supplimentary assistance – a large part of which will be received by pensioners.
- Pink Card (Free Medical Assistance) – for those over eighty years of age, and who are receiving supplimentary assistance.
- As an adjustment for the removal of tax from pensions, we will increase the maximum income from pensions to €14,318.
- For those couples receiving a pension, as well as having a computation as spouses, these are to continue to benefit from €3,600 in additional income, which is to be exempted from tax payment.
- We will remove income from pensions from being in itself calculated as income, so as to encourage pensioners to remain active and to continue working.
- An adjustment to be carried-out in a gradual manner to the widow/er’s pension, so that this could be the same as that of their spouses when the latter pass on, where subsequently they would also be able to keep on receiving all of the increases issued out by the Government. 12,000 pensioners are to benefit from a maximum increase of €5 per week, with a total expenditure of €3.3m. This is also another Electoral Proposal which is being performed.
- Another increase of €150 in the annual bonus for the elderly, who do not qualify for the contributory pension, where these same individuals have reached retirement age but do not qualify for a pension, due to not having had sufficient contributions. Approximately 12,500 persons, the majority of them being women, will benefit from this increase, with a total expenditure of nearly €2m. This will be the fourth and the largest increase. Altogether there will be an increase of €500.
- An increase in the service pension, once again by €200, which was usually ignored during the previous assessments of the social security pension. This is to rise upwards to €3,066.
- In this manner, we will have carried-out to completion the promise to improve the service pensions. Approximately 3,250 service pensioners are to benefit from this, with a total expenditure of €2.7m.
- A measure in favour of part-time workers with more than one job. An opportunity for current workers, through which we would be able to help them to secure a better pension when they are close to retirement, where they would be able to start paying the social security contribution for more than one part-time job, as up to a maximum of 40 hours per week. A potential of around 10,000 workers are set to benefit from this measure.
- Persons entitled to a pension for injury on duty are also able to keep on working, where as long as they remain employed, they would not be subjected to reductions from future sickness benefits, unemployment benefits as well as injury-on-duty related benefits, which they themselves could apply for.
- Payment for part-time employment is to be now taxed at 10% instead of 15%.
- An increase in relation to supplimentary assistance, where thus we truly are supporting those in need of assistance the most.