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Widows' and widowers' pensions to increase and criteria made more flexible
SPAIN'S Parliament has agreed to improve widows' and widowers' pensions for the over-65s to prevent hardship in cases where the holders are forced to give up their income or make impossible life changes.
One recent case showed two elderly sisters, Julia and Encarna, living in the same Soria nursing home who were told they would lose their pensions because they were 'cohabiting', forcing one of them to move to another residential centre.
A widows' or widowers' pension is non-contributory, and in the case of the Soria sisters, around €368.
In other cases, beneficiaries have been unable to retire, as they have to choose between their widows' pension or retirement pension, meaning they have to carry on working.
The new rules, put forward by the socialists, would mean changes to the 'cohabiting unit' or 'household' definition and, as the left-wing party points out, would only affect about 400 people in Spain and would not therefore suppose a massive cost.
They estimate the additional payout to be around €13 million.
Family members not immediately next of kin, or widows and widowers who live with family members in residential homes, will no longer be forced to forfeit their pensions.
The changes will be retroactive, meaning those who have lost their pensions already will get them back.
Also, the motion tabled by the socialists includes an increase in widows' and widowers' pensions for those who are not entitled to any other State pensions and who are on a low income.
They will go up to 59% of the State pension on January 1, 2018 and 60% in 2019.
For 2017, these pensions will rise to 58% of the base rate and be backdated to January 1 this year.
Socialist MP Rafael Simancas said that increasing these pensions is 'merely social justice'.
“For the country's economy to be growing at a rate of 3% a year and yet pension increases continue to be delayed is not just a mistake or even an injustice – it's actually immoral,” he said.
Simancas criticised the PP for having failed to increase pensions beyond the statutory minimum of 0.25% in the six years they had been in power.
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