Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Extra help for pensioners who fell short for GMI

By Constantinos Psillides
Elderly people who fall just short of qualifying for the Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) but fit all other relevant criteria will receive an extra welfare benefit from the state, according to labour ministry permanent secretary Andreas Assiotis.
Assiotis told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that legislation concerning GMI would be amended to grant the labour minister the authority to approve a form of welfare benefit for the elderly. The benefit will go either into hiring a nurse to care of the elderly person or purchasing special equipment.
To be eligible for GMI he or she must not have over €5,000 in the bank or own property worth more than €100,000 – excluding primary residences.
Assiotis explained that the need for flexibility arose after a careful evaluation of the applications submitted so far. Officials found that there were a number of elderly who fit all other criteria for receiving GMI but fell just short of being eligible.
“Our goal is to provide the minister with the flexibility to help elderly people who cannot help themselves,” said Assiotis, explaining that each case would be evaluated individually.
“Amending the legislation was deemed a necessity to allow for more flexibility. That flexibility was included in the previous legal framework that governed welfare but was dumped after the GMI legislation was introduced. Our goal now is to re-incorporate that amendment into the new legislation,” he said.
GMI was introduced last year to replace the previous system of state allowance, which was easy to abuse. However, the new system has been criticised as being excessively complicated, causing the delays in processing applications.
Up until December 1, 16,200 GMI applications were filed by Cypriot citizens: currently out of work, long-term unemployed, low income earners and self-employed.
Assiotis said that the ministry will introduce the amendment to the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

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