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The rights and benefits available in Ecuador to people over the age of 65

Published on October 19, 2021

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Despite the fact that every day there are more older adults in the country and that there is a law that protects them, the living conditions of most of them are not good.

In Ecuador there are 1.3 million older adults (who are over 65 years old), according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC); 53% are women and 47% are men.

This age group currently represents 7.9% of the population. Although the projections made by the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) indicate that in nine years, in 2030, the total of the economically inactive older adult population would be close to 20%.

To guarantee and expand rights and benefits for these citizens, Ecuadorians or foreigners living in the country, the National Assembly approved, in July 2018, the Organic Law of Older Adults. However, it was only published in the Official Gazette in May 2019.

The regulations, which replaced the Law of the Elderly that was in force since 1991, includes benefits, rights, exemptions in services, taxes; some of them already contemplated in the previous norm.

In addition, according to this law, Ecuadorian older adults residing abroad have the protection and assistance of the diplomatic missions and consular offices of Ecuador.

Non-tax benefits and exemptions

Under the new law, people living in Ecuador can take advantage of these benefits:

  • 50% exemption from air, land, sea and river transportation rates and tickets to public, cultural, sports, artistic, tourist and recreational packages. In addition, free access to museums.
  • Exoneration of 50% of the value of the consumption caused by the use of the services of an electric energy meter whose monthly consumption is up to 138 kW / hour; a drinking water meter whose monthly consumption is up to 34 cubic meters; and 50% of the basic rate for the residential landline phone owned by the beneficiary at his or her home.
  • Exoneration of 50% of the value of consumption in a basic plan of cellular telephony and internet.
  • Any person who has reached 65 years of age and with an estimated monthly income of a maximum of 5 unified basic salaries, or who has a wealth that does not exceed 500 unified basic salaries, will be exempt from paying national and municipal taxes.

VAT refund

This benefit is covered by article 37 of the Constitution. Older adults have the right to a refund of the value added tax (VAT) paid for their purchases of essential goods and services acquired for personal use and consumption, with invoices authorized by the Internal Revenue Service. As of January 2020, the maximum monthly VAT refund amount is $96.

Rights

Among the most important rights included in the law are the following:

  • To a dignified life. Guarantee the integral protection that the State, society and the family must provide to the elderly, in order to achieve the effective enjoyment of their rights, duties and responsibilities. They will have the right to access employment, economic, political, educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources and opportunities.
  • To work. Voluntary access to decent and remunerated work under equal conditions and not to be discriminated against in employment practices, guaranteeing gender equity and interculturality. They will have the same guarantees, benefits, labor and union rights, remuneration applicable to all workers for the same tasks and responsibilities. The work assigned to an elderly person must be in accordance with their capacities, limitations, potentialities and talents, guaranteeing their integrity, in the performance of tasks and accessibility.
  • To housing. Older adults have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing; to reside in their own home for as long as necessary, without their family or guardians being able to limit their right of use, enjoyment and disposition. The national authority in charge of housing and the decentralized autonomous governments shall guarantee the priority access of the elderly to the social interest housing programs that they design and implement in the exercise of their powers.
  • Food pension. Older adults who lack economic resources for their subsistence, or when their physical or mental condition does not allow them to survive on their own, will have the right to alimony from their relatives that allows them to satisfy their basic needs and have a life in conditions of dignity. The monthly maintenance allowance will be set by competent judges of the family, woman, childhood and adolescence through the procedure defined in current regulations.
  • Integral Health. The State shall guarantee older persons the right without discrimination to physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health and shall ensure universal, supportive, equitable and timely access to promotion, prevention, recovery, rehabilitation, priority, palliative care services, functional and comprehensive, in the entities that make up the National Health System, with a gender, generational and intercultural approach.

 

Despite ‘guaranteed’ rights, the figures are not encouraging

Despite the fact that every day there are more older adults in the country and that there is a law that protects them, the living conditions of most of them are not good.

According to MEIS figures, the average income of the older adult population in 2020 was $276.8, which represents a progressive decrease compared to 2019 ($291) and 2018 ($301). None of these figures cover the current value of the unified basic basket, which in August 2021 amounted to $711.68.

Meanwhile, if only the average income of retired older adults is analyzed by the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (a total of 449,371), this rises considerably ($655.20), but it is not enough to pay for the basket.

In addition, the housing deficit in people over 65 years of age stood, in 2020, at 58.9%. An increase of six points compared to 2019.

Although the right to work is also guaranteed to those over 65, this does not apply in reality either. The MIES’s own statistics reveal that the rate of adequate employment in this age group is 11.3% and that the inappropriate rate reaches 86.2%.

Henry Llanes, Vice President of the Association of Affiliates, Retirees and Pensioners of the IESS of Pichincha, affirms that, although the Constitution and the Law of Older Adults give rights and benefits to the elderly, these are not fulfilled due to lack of economic resources.

He uses the right to health as an example.  Llanes  says that only in the course of the pandemic, more than 10,000 older adults affiliated with social security have died. Added to this is the lack of access to medicines, both in the IESS and in the Ministry of Public Health.

“Most of the country’s older adults are unprotected, since they have not even signed up for social security and were left out of having any kind of protection. Although it must be recognized that with the current law there have been exemptions and the refund of VAT, but in the rest there has been no greater benefit, since the State does not have resources to meet all the social demands and demands that the norm has and the Constitution itself,” he says.

The MIES, as the governing body of public policy for comprehensive protection of priority attention groups, registers four forms of social protection for older adults in conditions of extreme poverty and poverty.

These are contemplated under the provision of services in the modalities of home care and spaces for socialization and meeting; and in residential gerontological centers (long stay) and day care centers (medium stay). As of August 2021, the MIES served 119,817 older adults in 2,883 direct-managed care units and by cooperation agreement.

“The implementation of these services responds to compliance with the constitutional mandate and the Organic Law of Older Adults,” says the entity in its latest report published last August.

However, Llanes makes objections to the format of these gerontological centers and says that they would not respond to the needs of the elderly: “I know that there is one in Santo Domingo, in a three-story building, when they must be one-story, with wide spaces and green areas. Here there must be rehabilitation areas, bedrooms, music, dance therapy.”

The MIES also provides items of economic protection: non-contributory pension My Best Years, aimed at elderly people living in extreme poverty, who receive an amount of $100 per month; and a non-contributory pension for the Elderly, aimed at people living in poverty, with a monthly cap of $50. As of June of this year, 367,055 people receive this type of aid.

But these items are not enough: “The old, especially those who do not have a pension from the IESS, are destined to die in poverty without any help from the State or civil society organizations,” says Llanes.

Family co-responsibility

The Elderly Law also establishes the co-responsibility of the family of the person over 65 years of age. It stipulates that family members must also cover their basic needs: adequate nutrition, health, physical, mental, psychomotor, emotional and affective development.

Furthermore, society is obliged to promote and respect the rights of the elderly and to provide special and preferential treatment.

System for the protection of the rights of the elderly

Last August, the MIES together with authorities and representatives of 25 State institutions announced their commitment to the action of the National Specialized System for the Comprehensive Protection of the Rights of Older Adults, through the inauguration of technical tables that from their competences they will work at the national level to promote and guarantee their rights with specialized priority attention approaches, gender, human mobility and interculturality.

The creation of this system had been established in the regulations published in 2019. Public investment in the social sphere that allows the construction of a path of opportunities for the elderly population is essential for the Deputy Minister of Social Inclusion, Susana Santistevan.

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