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By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) at e-mail exclusively for Bermuda Online
When referring to this particular web file, please use "bermuda-online.org/seniorcitizens.htm" as your Subject.
In Bermuda, the Ministry of Health and Family Services is The Bermuda Government ministry with responsibility for health and welfare for all including seniors and disabled. Its mission is to promote and maintain the physical, mental and social well-being of the 64,300 permanent residents of Bermuda in its 21 square miles of land area.
Bermuda may be only 21 square miles in total land area, an extremely small part of the world in geographic measurement but is so affluent that the World Bank has reported Bermuda as the most affluent country in the world in Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross National Income (GNI), exceeding other offshore centres like Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the USA, Canada, UK, etc.
Sadly, Bermuda seniors get merely a small fraction of the social security pensions and other benefits and services of the tax havens listed above. The countries mentioned above spend money on their senior citizens to give them an adequate comfort zone in later life. Bermuda spends far more on its government than it does on its senior citizens. Bermuda's seniors who are not rich, not earning an average income of over $60,000 a year or a decent pension, and don't own their own homes (more than 43%) are appallingly badly off compared to seniors in less affluent countries who are looked after far better by their governments.
Statistics for senior citizens indicate:
35 percent of seniors in Bermuda make less than $28,000 a year, according to the Seniors Test for Ageing and Trends (STATS) survey released that morning. These 35% live below the poverty line, at least $2,000 less than the Bermuda poverty line (incomes of $27,000 or less for one-person income households by Government earlier in 2008). (In the UK, the poverty line is £151 a week, according to the UK's National Pensioners Convention).
25 percent had incomes between $25,000 and $50,000
21 percent had incomes that exceeded $50,000
59 percent of the seniors reported a net income of $2,284 per month after expenses.
Average income was $37,500.
18 percent of seniors reported a net income of $184 per month after expense.
78 percent of the seniors population have a medical condition, 80 percent are on medication because of that condition and yet only 44 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with the health care system
61 percent had major medical coverage
61 percent operate their own car
When is a senior not a senior? In Europe - including UK, Ireland and all other EEC countries, it is 60. In Bermuda, it is 65 for both women and men and unless one is disabled, one cannot get a Special Persons ID card (the local equivalent of a Senior Citizens Card or Old Age Pensioners' Card) until you are 65.
Unlike in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe, where special low or "concessionary" fares or admission prices apply on application to senior citizens irrespective of where in the world visitors may be from, on all forms of public transport and both public sector and private sector attractions, there are no such concessions made in Bermuda to visiting senior citizens. For example, in Bermuda, seniors who are residents and have a Special Persons Card can travel free on buses (not equipped for wheelchair users) and ferries - but not visitors who seniors.
Seniors have paid taxes all their lives. Many depend solely on their local Social Security. In contrast, all Government employees, are covered under The Pensions (Public Service Superannuation) Act 1981, provisions of which include generous pensions for all current and retired Government employees who include police officers and public-school teachers.
There is no equivalent in Bermuda, in types of services offered to senior citizens and the disabled, of Age Concern in the United Kingdom and Spain, or AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) in the USA. (There is a local Age Concern entity, very concerned about the plight of seniors, but operating on a different basis, as shown below).
If over 65 and resident in Bermuda
Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP) or FutureCare (see below) at a very significant cost per month per senior. Please refer directly to the Bermuda Government for details of costs, exclusions and inclusions.
On application and with appropriate verification such as a Special Persons ID, Bermuda-resident seniors get special banking services and discounts - mentioned as such in the Seniors Handbook issued by the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged (NOSPC). Contact Bank of Bermuda, Head Office, Front Street, Hamilton HM 11, phone 295-4000, fax 295-7093) for seniors over 65 and Bank of N. T. Butterfield, Head Office, 65 Front Street, Hamilton HM 12, phone 295-1111, fax 295-0656, for seniors over 60. Benefits, depending on bank, may include:
Unlike the United Kingdom, caregivers currently have no protection under any legislation in Bermuda. Nor are they paid anything by the Bermuda Government, unlike in the UK. England and Wales have the Carers and Disabled Children Act (2000). No study has ever been done to date in Bermudaon the hidden cost of caregiving (caring). It is estimated that perhaps 8% of locals, or 5,120, provide the care so vital to helping the approximately 15% of the people of Bermuda who are senior citizens or disabled remain in their homes and community settings. One reason may be that because of the huge prices of local housing and services, space for inactive seniors who cannot pay their way is at a premium in a particularly materialistic society of only 21 square miles where demand is vastly more than supply and rents to non-family members can bring in enough income to more than pay a monthly mortgage or provide much-needed income to a senior citizen. Another reason may be that unlike in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and much of Europe, where senior citizen mothers, mothers, brothers and sisters who live full-time with their children or siblings may be deemed to be dependants for personal income tax purposes of their children and can be claimed in certain circumstances as tax exemptions or tax allowances by their immediate children, no such benefits exist in Bermuda. Nor do any tax benefits exist in Bermuda for senior citizens who need to modify their homes to cater to the needs of ambulatory-disabled feeble or wheelchair-bound disabled.
Overall, as can be seen in the website and listing above and below, the cost of living in Bermuda for seniors is 380% higher than in the USA and 280% higher than in Canada and the UK. For many local seniors, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables are completely unaffordable.
Nominal in Bermuda, see http://www.bermuda-online.org/Bermudadutyfree.htm.
Bermudian and Bermuda-resident retirees over the age of 65 and disabled/physically challenged persons who are younger, can sometimes obtain a discount on a purchase, on production of a Special Persons Permit.
Unlike in UK, Canada and USA where this is not a requirement, all seniors over 65 require a Certificate of Competency from their doctor to renew their licenses. In the UK, etc. one can go up to 70 years before any age-related restriction on license renewals.
Hugely expensive for seniors, especially if they live in a house with a family. Some seniors pay more than $320 a month.
No equivalent in Bermuda to the UK's regulations which from October 1, 2006 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees, trainees or job seekers because of their age. They ensure that all workers, regardless of age, have the same rights in terms of training and promotion.
At this time, the Bermuda Financial Assistance Act is useless to the majority of seniors and the permanently disabled who own property or part of a property or have some form of income. If you own or co-own or are a part-owner of a car, any property, any insurance, any monetary asset, you are deemed ineligible. Other countries - like the USA, Canada and UK - are far more generous to their seniors.
Please refer directly to the Bermuda Government for details of costs, exclusions and inclusions.
Hospital Insurance Plan - see www.hip.gov.bm.
Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP)/FutureCare and their costs/premiums. For all newcomers to including retirees and residents in Bermuda without a partially local Bermuda employer-funded private Health Care Insurance Plan, not in addition to the latter). Operated by the Bermuda Government under the Hospital Insurance Act 1970, funded by the government's Health Insurance Fund (HIF) and government's Mutual Reinsurance Fund (MRF), overseen by the Hospital Insurance Commission and administered by the Social Insurance Department, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone 295-5151 extension 1146, 1130 or 1137. The current standard premium rate for this coverage and what it covers and does not cover are published. It is a basic plan covering many Bermudians and others over the age of 65 and otherwise uninsured because of newcomer non-working status or termination of local employer/employee insurance coverage owing to retirement, or through unemployment. Many in Bermuda who are not affluent depend solely on their social security and if they pay rent as more than 40% of all residents do instead of owning their own homes, have to decide whether to pay for HIP or FutureCare and prescriptions or count on the help of relatives or do without food. In 2008 some benefits were improved. For example, funding for kidney transplants has increased to $100,000 while general outpatients can claim $500 a year towards their treatment. Policy-holders should still be aware that while HIP does not cover the cost of specialist visits which occur within a doctor's offices or during outpatient visits to KEMH, should they require a visit to an internal medicine physician, eye surgery or attend the bone fracture clinic at KEMH as an outpatient, they can now get some relief, of up to $500 to be applied to these types of specialist services and others for medically-approved procedures. In addition, on August 1, 2008 Government introduced basic dental cover under the insurance plan, in cooperation with the Argus Insurance Group. Access to dental services is a critical need for many seniors. The dental coverage offered by HIP includes basic preventative and diagnostic services, along with surgical and minor restorative dentistry work, funding 75 percent of expenses on qualified procedures. Generally, not covered at all is having to go overseas to get treatment of a type not offered in Bermuda. Some Bermudians and other residents have spent over $100,000 for a 10-day stay at a hospital in Boston or Baltimore. Health Minister Zane DeSilva announced that premiums for HIP and FutureCare were increased as of April 1, 2012. HIP Premiums increased from $385 to $390 per month, while FutureCare, the programme for seniors, saw its premiums increase from $375 to $385 per month for phase one policy holders. Premiums for phase two and three policyholders remain the same at $635 per month. The monthly premium is over 35% of the average local pensioners Social Security. The Minister said that FutureCare had ended its third year in a strong financial position but that claims were expected to increase significantly in future years. He said that the Ministry was acting on actuarial advice "to ensure the sustainability of the funds."
Among Bermuda's 16,000+ seniors only approximately 3,000 have been financially able and willing to join FutureCare, while others prefer the cheaper and more basic Government Health Insurance Plan (HIP) if they have not remained after retirement on on their private major medical employer-provided or had any continuing private coverage.
See http://www.onebermudaalliance.bm/index.php/latestnews/95-latest-news/221-futurecare-is-future-shock-for-many-seniors. At that time, the One Bermuda Alliance were not the Bermuda Government but an Opposition Party. Since December 17, 2012 they became the Bermuda Government.
In February 2012 the Bermuda Government told senior citizens insured by FutureCare they will no longer get the allowance for life-saving prescription drugs if their premiums are in arrears. The letter stated that as of February 1, the FutureCare payment process for prescription changed for policy holders in arrears by 30 days or more. As a result pharmacies will no longer fill prescriptions. Many seniors have to go without medication because they have reached their limit for 80 percent coverage on prescription drugs, if they are unable to afford to pay the full price for prescriptions. The problem is compounded by the fact that the Medical Clinic that provided a safety net was closed several years ago by former Premier Dr Ewart Brown. This clinic provided physicians, nursing care, medications and screening all under one roof at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, even transportation was provided.
For a comparison of costs in USA see under Medicare at http://www.medicare.gov/cost/.
None. Some retired seniors have spent thousands of dollars out of their own funds for heart surgery in the USA. If/when they had major medical benefits through their employers when they were employed, it stopped when they retired. Without the Bermuda Government's hugely expensive FutureCare premiums Bermuda's seniors are not covered for any Major Medical needs. There is no local equivalent to what non-affluent citizens in the USA receive as Medicare or Medicaid. In comparison, in Canada, generous provisions apply to seniors for health services, with very little wait time. In the UK and Ireland, seniors who need general medical, hospital and prescription services are included in the National Health Service at no additional cost, as part of the taxes they pay. They don't need to have supplementary private-sector (BUPA etc) hospital and medical insurance, although some have, mostly to avoid operation wait-times and/or to have elective, non-emergency surgery.
See the Bermuda Government's The Pension Commission, at http://www.pensioncommission.bm/. Not Social Security (see separately), but private pension plans. The National Pension Scheme Act 1999 became effective on 1st January 2000. All employers, whether local or international or exempted must comply, for every employee whether Bermudian or a non-Bermudian spouse of a Bermudian of from 23 years of age who works a minimum of 720 hours per calendar year. Employers may, however, offer more generous eligibility provisions to employees by allowing them to become members of their pension plan at an earlier age and with fewer numbers of hours worked. While 65 for men and women is when those eligible in Bermuda will get Social Security, private pension plans can be more generous and in lesser age as well. Note that the Act specifies private pensions only for Bermudian and international or exempted company employers employing Bermudians or non-Bermudian spouses of Bermudians. There is no requirement to establish pension plans for guest workers, which may come as a shock to the latter. Non-Bermudian employees should ask local and international companies and or the Bermuda Government employing them what, if anything, they offer as private pension plans or equivalent, so they know where they stand and what they can expect to take with them when they leave Bermuda.
For those who qualify under the Act for pension eligibility, the pension scheme (plan) can be offered only by approved local insurance companies, not the "exempted" or "international" variety registered in Bermuda but not "corporate citizens" as they are often referred to, inaccurately.
The Act removed many of the anomalies and restrictions that since the 1970s for "approved private pension plans" had existed in some with 15 or more years service but had severely restricted or totally excluded others, for example all those with say 12 years service with the same employer by retirement age. The current Act creates some portability for plans of all employers and employees. But for some people close to retirement age when it came into effect, it was far too late to ensure that once they become senior citizens and retire from working, they will have an adequate income without hardship.
Minimum contribution rates are based on pensionable earnings per year. At January 14, 2012 Approved Pension Plan Administrators under the Act were:
Life Insurance Company Ltd.
Life Insurance Company Ltd (Argus).
Investment Advisory Services Ltd.
Pension Services Ltd.
Insurance Services Ltd.
Cooper Young & Associates Ltd.
See under "National Pension Scheme" and "Social Security."
Many elderly Bermudians and some non-Bermudian residents need to sell their homes to fund living in a purpose-built retirement facility for senior citizens. They have no other options such as reverse mortgages in the USA and their UK or Canadian equivalents. A reverse mortgage in the USA is a way to get money out of your home without having to leave it. It is a loan against the equity built up in the home that is repaid with interest when the owner dies or leaves or sells the property. In the USA, homeowners must be 62 or older and on the main residence only. There is no equivalent of a reverse mortgage in Bermuda.
There is a chronic shortage of affordable integrated-care premises for seniors who do not but can live independently without assistance and those who need assisted living arrangements. Costs are hugely expensive. Many locals cannot afford them and may live in very inadequate conditions. Most seniors prefer to be independent for as long as possible. The concept of an extended family having live-in matriarchs and patriarchs being honored in their declining years has disappeared in Bermuda. Some spouses, unable to look after their husbands or wives, have put them into care or retirement homes if they can afford it.
Serenity Gardens Nursing Home, on Glenwood Park Lane, Warwick.
Sylvia Richardson Care Facility January 2007. Photo by Chris Burville copyright The Royal Gazette
Social Insurance Department, Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM 12. Phone 295-5151 extension 1129 or 1131. In Bermuda, the maximum Social Security benefit obtainable is $980 a month for those who qualify, about 22% of all local pensioners.
Current deductions from wages or salaries apply under section 4 of the Contributory Pensions Act 1970.
Effective August 1, 2012. The new weekly rate is $64.14 - Employer portion $32.07 and Employee portion $32.07.
There is a Contributory Pensions Appeal Tribunal. See Bermuda Government Boards
When private corporate pensions are offered, they are in addition to the Government administered Contributory Pensions plan shown above.
The table above compares badly to Social Security in the USA which averages $1,550 in USA for persons have not worked for 50 years and, for those with a more modern and sustained employment history can quite easily be US$1,844 a month, or $2,180 a month at age 67 or $2,697 a month if a pensioner is healthy enough to wait until age 70 before drawing benefits. See the USA's Social Security Administration. There is no standard rates file as pensions can vary appreciably. Over 60s men do not get a Social Security pension until they are 65, if they qualify. At Age Concern In the United Kingdom, some offices will supply immediately on request or within 24 hours by e-mail a 5-page "Benefit rates for the Over 60s" guide showing a variety of rates for which individuals will be eligible depending on if and how they qualify - including men over 60. There is no standard "Benefit rates for the Over 60s" guide as there is in the United Kingdom, Canada and USA.
In Canada, each senior is paid an OAP/CCP by the Government. For those without any other source of income, Social Security monthly can be as high as Ca $2600. For those with a substantial income from a private or teacher's pension or other sources, the OAP/CCP can be as low as Ca $400. Canadians are so lucky with their Health plan; and in Ontario seniors get free prescription drugs for over 1500 prescribed things! Their GST tax and other taxes cover much of it. The plan gives peace of mind to Canadians.
In comparison to social security benefits for its citizens who have paid taxes all their working life and beyond, Bermuda Government pensions for its employees or Members of Parliament are for far shorter periods of time, offer much bigger pensions and get regular cost of living increases. Seniors over the age of 65 and employed no longer have to pay Social Insurance contributions but employers must do so. Many pensioners exist solely on their Social Security because they do not qualify at all for any corporate pension, or their corporate pension benefits ceased when a spouse died. The cost in Bermuda for a private Senior Citizens home for the elderly is more than 7 times the average social security pension and can easily be as high as $95,000 a year.
An ID card. Bermudian or Bermuda-resident women and men must be at least 65 years old to qualify, except for the registered disabled under the age of 65. For local travel by bus and ferry, free for seniors and disabled on production. Not valid abroad.
In Bermuda, there are no retirement homes or hospitals specifically for World War veterans. Some Bermuda veterans have had to pay more than $100,000 out of their own money if they have it to overseas hospitals for operations, owing to a lack of affordable medical insurance. If they don't have the funds and can't strike a deal with the LCCA to borrow the money, they don't get treated overseas.
|Activities Association of Bermuda (AAB)||Promoters of quality care for Bermuda's seniors. Has periodic workshops in Bermuda in partnership with the US National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP).|
|Activities Center||KEMH Continuing Care Unit, 7 Point Finger Road, Paget DV 04. Phone 239-2020. Adult day care center for seniors. Transportation provided for participating residents living from Crawl Hill to Horseshoe Bay.|
|Admiralty House Community Center||2 Admiralty Lane, Pembroke HM 01. Phone 295-9094. Fax 295-4695. For older adults. Registered charity 089.|
|Age Concern||Bermuda-registered charity # 137. Charities House, 25 Point Finger Road, Paget DV 04, Bermuda. P. O. Box HM 2397, Hamilton HM JX, Bermuda. Telephone (441) 238-7525. Fax (441) 238-7177. E-mail info@AgeConcern.bm. Claudette Fleming, Executive Director. Open to the public 9 am-4 pm Monday-Friday. Not part of Age Concern in UK. Most of the income is from the corporate private sector, Bermuda Government and some individuals. Has onferences, forums, newsletters, supplements. It is a 'connector' and 'watchdog' group not a direct service provider. Includes advocacy. Annual membership fee to individuals.|
|Amigos De Terciera Idade - Friends of Senior Citizens||Registered charity 577|
|Bermuda Alzheimer's Family Support Association||P. O. Box DV 114, Devonshire DV BX. Meets second Tuesday of each month, Continuous Care Unit Activities room, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, 5:30 pm. Call Julie Kay Darrell at 238-2168.|
|Bermuda Amputee Support Group||80-100 known amputees, from 17-90 years old. Most are from diabetes. A few have bone tumors. They are in the Limb and Brace Unit of KEMH Physiotherapy. Established in 2002 by KEMH physiotherapist Carol Sawyer and social worker Paul Chan.|
|Bermuda Bereavement Association of Care Givers||P. O. Box DD 174, St. David's DD BX. Phone 297-0030|
|Bermuda Council on Aging (BCA)||Formed
in late 2006 in response to a growing awareness
that Bermuda's population is growing older, with
a mission to foster
dialogue and collaborative action regarding
|Bermuda Gerontological Society||A senior citizens group. Meets second Tuesday of each month at Peace Lutheran Church Hall, 5:30 pm.|
|Bermuda Red Cross||8 Berry Hill Road, Paget. P. O. Box HM 772, Hamilton HM CX, Bermuda. Administrative Office telephone 236-8253 or fax 236 8267. Since 1950. Blood Donor Center, hospital (441) 236 5067 (fax 236 2272). A volunteer organization, made up of public spirited individuals, many of them retired from regular jobs. Services to seniors and the disabled include hospital equipment rental, to help customers recuperate in their own homes.|
|Bermuda War Veterans Association||Registered charity 140. All surviving members are senior citizens|
|Communication for the Hearing Impaired||Telephone 292-7703.|
|Community Nursing Service||Bermuda Health Department. P. O. Box HM 1195, Hamilton HM EX.|
|Cornerstone||Phone 234-4022. 4 Oriel Lane, Scott's Hill Road, Sandys MA 04. Adult day care center for seniors and independent residential care.|
|Department of Health & Social Services||A Bermuda Government agency, in the Ministry of Health and Family Services. 7 Point Finger Road, Paget DV 04. Telephone (441) 236-0224 or fax (441) 236-3971|
|Friends of Lefroy House Association||Lefroy House, P. O. Box MA 118, Mangrove Bay, MA BX. Phone 234-0525 or 234-2152. Lefroy House near Dockyard is a home for seniors. Promotes the involvement of relatives and friends. Registered charity 393.|
|Golden Hour Club||For seniors, at Bermuda Red Cross, meetings twice a month, phone 236-8253.|
|Happy Seniors Club||A senior citizens group. Meets Tuesday, 11:30 to 3 pm, Hamilton Adventist Center. Call 292-0654 or 292-2160.|
|Island-wide Social Committee||A seniors group|
|King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH)||An associate member of the American Hospital
Association. It is accredited every three
years by the Canadian Council on Health Services
Accreditation at FLR 4-1730, St. Laurent
Boulevard, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 5LI, telephone (613) 738 3800.
For seniors, in the Continuing Care Unit, phone 236-2345 x 1377 or 1708, there is
|Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association (LCCA)||International Center, Suite 211, Bermudiana Road, Hamilton. P. O. Box HM 64, Hamilton HM AX. Phone 292-1132 or fax 295- 7147. It relieves poverty, suffering and distress, gives help and advice and lends - on a repayment program - funds for senior citizens and others to go overseas for medical and surgical treatment when local employment via employers or family has ceased or is inadequate. Registered charity 087.|
|Meals on Wheels||103 South Road, Paget, PG 03. P. O. Box PG 312, Paget PG BX. Phone 236-1815. Fax 232-2070. It supplies nourishing lunchtime cooked meals 4 days a week for persons who for reasons of health cannot prepare meals for themselves, whether on release from hospital or on a longer term. Registered charity 109.|
|National Office for Seniors and Physically Challenged.||Since 1992. Stonehall, 60 Victoria Street, Hamilton, next to St. Paul AME Church. Or by Airmail at P. O. Box HM 1195, Hamilton HM EX, Bermuda. Phone 292-7802. Fax 292-9135 (Seniors) or 292-7681 (Disabled).|
|Project Action||Registered Charity 561. In Bermuda, free bus service for seniors in private and government-run homes. Also has a specially-equipped (for wheelchair and ambulatory disabled) bus, as a service to seniors and disabled - residents only, not visitors. P. O. Box FL 136, Flatts, FL BX.|
|The Residents' Family Council||Support for seniors who are residents of the Continuing Care Unit (CCU) at the King Edward VII Hospital and their families.|
|St. George's Joy Club||For senior citizens. First and third Wednesdays of each month. Meets at St. George's Community Centre, Old Military Road, near bus terminal, 1-3:30 pm. Call 297-1765 or 297-0913.|
|Seniors Active Club||A senior citizens group. Homestead Lane, Southampton SB 04.|
|Senior Islanders Club||A senior citizens group. Meets Tuesdays. Craft classes and afternoon social at 1:30 pm. Bingo at 9 pm. Admiralty House, Spanish Point, Pembroke, call 295-9094|
|Senior Learners Club||A senior citizens group. P. O. Box PG 297, Paget PG BX|
|Standing Medical Board||Pension and Gratuities (War Service) Act 1947. All surviving beneficiaries of such pensions are senior citizens.|
Last Updated: May
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