The government will provide up to 200,000 won (US$186) starting next July for senior citizens whose income falls below a certain level in a bid to expand social welfare for older people struggling to make ends meet, sources said Wednesday.
The support will be granted under the "basic pension program" for those aged 65 and older, and whose income is the lowest 70 percent of their age group, the sources in the political circles said.
The amount of support will range from 100,000 won to 200,000 won in accordance with how long an individual has subscribed to the already existing national pension program.
A longer subscription means less support since he or she is regarded as having a better social safety net than others, according to the sources in the political circles.
Under the plans, a senior citizen with a monthly income of about 830,000 won will likely be eligible for the basic pension program. The government said that about 90 percent of eligible senior citizens will receive 200,000 won every month.
But the program under consideration is expected to spark criticism that the government does not make good on its promised welfare for senior citizens as it excludes the relatively wealthy senior citizens from receiving the benefit.
Since her presidential campaign, President Park Geun-hye has promised that she will provide 200,000 won for all people aged 65 and older under the new pension program.
The scaled-back support for senior citizens comes as the government is struggling to secure a sufficient amount of budget to finance the program in the face of the slow economic recovery and the resulting shortages of tax revenue.
An estimate showed that about 39.6 trillion won will be needed for the operation of the program from July next year to 2017. All of the needed money is expected to be financed by taxes