EXPANDED PRIVILEGES AND NEW BENEFITS CLARIFIED IN RA 9994’S IRR

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Senior citizens will now enjoy even more benefits and privileges under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. In addition to the old 20% discount on the purchase of certain goods and services, and free medical and dental services from government health facilities, our Filipino elderly will be entitled to VAT-exemptions in specific transactions, free pneumoccocal and influenza vaccines, and 5% utility discounts on electric and water consumption. 

Republic Act No. 9994 seeks to provide additional benefits to senior citizens by expanding their current discount privileges. They currently enjoy a 20% discount on medicine purchases, domestic travel land, air, and sea fare, food purchases from hotels and restaurants, admission fees on theaters and concert halls, medical and dental services, laboratory test fees, and funeral or burial services. Under RA 9994, these transactions will now be exempt from the Value-Added Tax (VAT).

Previously, the utility discount only applied to DSWD-accredited senior citizens centers and residential/group homes, now individual households with senior citizens residing therein may avail of the 5% utility discount on electric and water consumption provided they do not exceed 100kwh or 30 cubic meters, and have accounts or meters registered under the senior citizen’s name. 

Similarly, FREE medical services can only be availed of in government health facilities under the old law. Under RA 9994, the DOH is mandated to provide free pneumoccocal and influenza vaccines to indigent senior citizens.

Additional government financial assistance now includes a monthly social pension of P500 for indigent senior citizens, and a death benefit assistance of P2,000 to be given to the nearest surviving relative who took care of deceased senior citizen.

Senior citizens will continue to enjoy their special 5% discount on prime commodities and basic necessities from groceries and supermarkets, but at a “combined” amount of P1,300 per week, instead of the separate P650/week from DA and P650/week from DTI.

Moreover, the DOH and FDA have clarified that discounted drug and medicine purchases, now extend to vitamins and minerals specifically prescribed by doctors for senior citizens for purposes of prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of a disease or illness. However, they still exclude those classified as “food supplements with no approved therapeutic claim”.

On the other hand, the 20% discount also extends to the purchase of essential medical supplies, accessories or equipment like eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, walkers or wheelchairs, and even to geriatric diapers.

Meanwhile, while the 20% discount shall continue to cover domestic land, air and sea transport of senior citizens, it has been reiterated that this applies to “fares” only. Hence, the Skyway has been duly removed from the listing since it collects “tolls” from vehicles, but the discount is applicable to taxicabs and shuttle services as per DOTC guidelines.

Furthermore, it has been clarified what “related funeral or burial services” are subject to the 20% senior citizens discount. These include the purchase of the casket or urn, embalming, cremation costs, pick-up of the body from the morgue, transport for burial at his/her hometown, but excluding obituary publication and the cost of the memorial lot.