Many senior citizens have been going on without full knowledge of their rights and benefits. Many have gotten used to the practice of paying full price, falling in line and being self-reliant as they had been for most of their lives. There is no shame in asking for the discounts afforded to you by law. Those who do demand to get their discounts, are sometimes met with jeering expressions from annoyed attendants. And this where misunderstandings turn to shouting matches. To the senior citizen, it is always best to know your rights and your benefits.These are:
1. Transportation – For airplanes, seniors are entitled the full 20% discount, except for budget or promo fares. This discount extends to other forms of transportation such as inter-island ocean liners, roll-on roll-off, ferries, trains, taxis, TNVS (like Grab, MiCab, etc) and even toll fees.
Some PWDPhil members have cascaded to us that in some tollways, the discount is sometimes denied for single payment toll fee, it is duly recognized when purchasing the RFID load such as the EasyTrip for the NLEX or Autosweep for SLEX. Just remember to show a copy of your registration and PWD or senior citizen ID, if buying the RFID sticker for the first time. This has yet to be confirmed with the Skyway, SLEX and NLEX.
2. Utilities – Many senior citizens are not aware that they have a 5% discount on all utilities not limited to water and electricity. However, there are some conditions before the discount is applied: first, the account must be in the name of the senior citizen. It cannot be applied if the electric or water bill is not in the name of the senior citizen. Secondly, for the electric bill, the discount will only be applied to the first 100 kilowatts of electricity consumed. Any consumption greater than 100 kilowatts will no longer apply. For instance, the monthly consumption is up to 150 kilowatts, the 5% will be applied to the 100 kilowatts while the remaining 50 kilowatts will be charged the regular amount. The same is true for the water bill. The limit is 30 cubic meters of water consumption, which means that only 30 cubic meters will enjoy the 5% discount and anything in excess of 30 cubic meters will be charged the regular rates.
3. Training – While many may not be aware, senior citizens who decide to join TESDA-approved training sessions and programs have subsidies so that they can either enjoy discounted rates or free tuition. For more information on this you may refer to the TESDA website.
4. Health care – All senior citizens and even persons with disabilities now enjoy automatic coverage with PhilHealth. However, the coverage will only apply if the senior has been enrolled in PhilHealth and will need to present his PhilHealth ID card when availing of the discounts. Recently, my 93-year old uncle was in the Makati Medical Center for 5 days for pneumonia, a disease common to senior citizens. His membership to PhilHealth paid for P25,000 of his bill, plus 20% off his whole hospital bill. The discount was also applicable to the doctor’s professional fees. What was supposed to be P85,000 became P49,000. That is a substantial discount considering he was treated in tertiary care private hospital in a private room. PhilHealth will be very helpful for all your medical care needs and expenses.
Aside from the government-mandated benefits for senior citizens, there are many programs by international organizations and even local non-government organizations that aim to protect and provide additional services. Of all these caring organizations, the first care must come from family. As our elders have taken care of us, so must we take care of them when they reach their twilight years.