According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), 1.3 million Ecuadorians, or 8 percent of the population, are over 65 and entitled to benefits and legal guarantees under the law. Despite the Law for Older Adults, passed in 2018, advocates for seniors and government officials say that hundreds of thousands of seniors don’t take advantage of the benefits.
Benefits for seniors
All of those over the age of 65, including legal foreign residents, are entitled to financial benefits. These include:
- 50% payment reduction for air, land, sea and river transportation, not including fees and taxes;
- 50% payment reduction for tickets to public, cultural, sports, artistic, tourist and recreational packages. In addition, seniors have free access to all museums;
- 50% payment reduction for utilities, including electricity up to 138 kW / hour per month; drinking water up to 34 cubic meters per month; and the basic rate for the residential landline phone owned by the beneficiary in his or her home.
- 50% payment reduction for a basic cell phone and internet service;
- Exemption from paying national income tax and municipal taxes for those earning less than 5 basic monthly salaries.
In addition, those over 65 are entitled to a refund of the value added tax (VAT) for the purchase of essential goods, such as food. The maximum refund is $96 a month.
According to the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MEIS), an alarming 43 percent of seniors do not take advantage of the price reductions and benefit. In the case of the discount for cell phone and home internet service, more than 70 percent have not applied for the reduction. “Despite the law for elders, many people are not using the price reductions, which could save them thousands of dollars a year,” says Jonathan Parra, MEIS regional director in Quito. “Elders must apply for the benefits since they are not automatic.”
Parra says that President Guillermo Lasso has issued a directive to reduce the paperwork required for seniors to apply. “We are working on this project now and hope to announce improvements by the end of the year.”
In addition to financial benefits, the Law for Older Adults provides what it calls “guarantees for a full and dignified life.” These include the right to work, housing, a food pension (if necessary) and health care. The law also guarantees protections and “special treatment” by the national and local governments, social institutions and the family. Under the law, a family can be fined or arrested for not providing care for an elderly member.