The Social Security System (Caja) plans to double government payments to 74,400 people who are unable to work, President Oscar Arias announced Monday.
“This has to be. It should have been done many years ago,” Arias told reporters at a press conference before leaving on a two-week trip to Europe.
The increased pensions will go to non-contributors: people who do not pay into the Social Security System because they are unable to work as a result of disabilities or old age.
Calling current non-contributor pensions “too low,” Arias said the increase would benefit some of the most needy people in Costa Rica, most of whom are older than 65. Of those who qualify for increased pensions, 66% cannot work as a result of their advanced age.
About 1,000 of the elderly people who qualify for increased pensions are older than 96, said Eduardo Doryan, executive president of the Caja.
Minimum individual pensions will increase from about ¢17,500 to ¢35,000 ($36 to $70) monthly, Doryan said.
On Wednesday, opposition leader and presidential runner-up Otton Solís of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) issued a statement congratulating the Arias administration for the decision.
Those who qualify for increased pensions are scheduled to begin receiving them in August.
Because of the change, the budget for these benefits, as well as health care and administrative costs, will be increased from approximately $51 million to $66.7 million.