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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Welfare dues withheld

Welfare dues withheld

G Vinod
| November 16, 2011

Some beneficiaries of the Disabled Worker’s Allowance have not been paid for two months.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Department of Social Welfare has withheld payment of the Disabled Worker’s Allowance (EPC) to some beneficiaries, according to reports received by FMT.

Several members of the Society of the Blind said they had not received their monthly dues since last month and that a similar situation happened last December and January.

The department normally banks in the allowance by the second day of the month.

An official of the Kuala Lumpur Welfare Department said payment would be frozen if a beneficiary failed to update records of his address and marital and employment status on time.

The update has to be done once a year. Most state welfare departments require it in October.

However, the president of the Independent Living and Training Centre, Francis Siva, rejected the explanation, saying the department gave different reasons for the delay to different people.

“Just last week, I went to the welfare office in Kuala Kubu Baru to check on why my allowance was not ready and the officer there told me the Federal Treasury had not disbursed the funds,” he said.

“When I pressed on the matter, they changed their tune, saying the state had not disbursed the funds. So which is which?”

He criticised the requirement for an annual update of particulars, saying it created unnecessary problems for people already facing many challenges.

“You expect a bedridden man to come and update his status annually? The welfare department has logistics to go house to house, but they are just lazy and inefficient.”

Unhelpful staff

Goh Harp Boon, a blind 36-year-old masseur, said he moved often to improve his employment opportunities and it would be difficult for him to inform the department every time. “Must we do it every time we move?”

According to his MyKad, Goh’s address is in Perak. But he now lives in Kuala Lumpur. He said the Kuala Lumpur Welfare Department told him he would not qualify for any more aid until he changed the address on the card.

He claimed the officer who spoke to him also demanded his pay slip as proof that he qualified for the RM300 monthly allowance given to disabled people who are employed. (Unemployed disabled people get RM150 a month.)

“They fail to understand that I work on a freelance basis,” Goh said. “Where am I going to get a pay slip?”

Goh said he knew many other blind people facing similar problems with the welfare department but were afraid to come forward to complain.

He also alleged that many had been turned away when trying to update their particulars.

“Sometimes they will just say the officer in charge is not around and tell us to come again another day. It costs us a lot of money to travel to the office in Jalan Pahang.”

Another blind person, 55-year-old Hor Hee Teck, said he went to the department to inquire about the delay of his allowance but was told that the online system was down.

To prevent overlapping of information

According to the Kuala Lumpur welfare official, the annual update of particulars was necessary for the department to keep track of beneficiaries and to “prevent the overlapping of information”.

She also said funds were usually returned to the Treasury if the beneficiaries did not collect them by the 20th day of the month.

“Nevertheless, we do retrieve the funds back for them when they lodge a complaint with us,” she added.

She rejected allegations that department officials turned disabled people away or that it was difficult for them to get their records updated.

“Any of our officers are allowed to take their particulars for updates. They don’t need to change their MyKad addresses at all.”

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