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Most are looking forward to it. Others are somehow dreading it. It is considered a milestone and an age where you can optionally retire from working.
Welcome to the age where you are officially considered a senior citizen.
2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority1 show that there are 7,548,769 senior citizens in the country with a ratio of about 79 males in every 100 females. The majority reside in the CALABARZON area.
The number is significant as they comprise about 7.5% of our total population, thus, policies towards their protection and convenience should be rightfully made.
In this article, I will provide a complete guide to senior citizen discounts and benefits under the existing laws of the Philippines; how to avail these privileges and benefits; and give you tips and warnings. Your most frequently asked questions are also answered.
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The use of the information contained herein does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the user/reader.
Table of Contents
- Who are considered senior citizens in the Philippines?
- The Complete List of Senior Citizen’s Discount and Benefits Under Existing Laws of the Philippines.
- 1. Health or medical-related privileges.
- 2. Transportation privileges.
- 3. Travel, entertainment, and recreation.
- 4. Utility discounts.
- 5. Taxation.
- 6. Funeral and burial services.
- 7. Basic necessities and prime commodities.
- 8. Government assistance.
- How to Compute Senior Citizen Discount and VAT Exemption.
- What is the Office of Senior Citizen’s Affairs (OSCA)?
- Tips and Warnings.
- Frequently Asked Questions.
- 1. Is the 20% discount on transportation applicable to ride-hailing apps like Grab and Angkas? How?
- 2. Can I also apply the 20% discount on GrabFood and similar apps?
- 3. Are elderly foreigners residing in the Philippines entitled to senior citizen discounts and benefits?
- 4. Can a senior citizen bring a family member with him/her when using express lane privileges (e.g. airports, bus terminals, etc.)? How many family members can he or she bring?
- 5. I know a person who was given a senior citizen card even though the person is not yet a senior citizen. Are there any penalties for a person illegally using the card? What are the penalties?
- 6. Where shall I go if I have a complaint on an establishment violating the 20% discount rule?
- 7. Is PhilHealth free for senior citizens?
- 8. How can I become a PhilHealth member if I’m a senior citizen?
- 9. Can senior citizens have dependents under their PhilHealth? Who can be dependents?
- 10. What are the PhilHealth benefits and entitlements available to senior citizens?
- 11. How can senior citizens claim PhilHealth hospitalization benefits?
- 12. If you are a senior citizen and you get hospitalized but you were not able to enroll prior to your hospitalization, can you still avail of the benefits?
- About the Author.
Who are considered senior citizens in the Philippines?
If you are a Filipino who is sixty (60) years old and above and a resident of the Philippines, you are a senior citizen.
If you have “dual citizenship” and have been residing in the Philippines for at least six (6) months, you are also considered a senior citizen and are entitled to all privileges provided under the law.
The Complete List of Senior Citizen’s Discount and Benefits Under Existing Laws of the Philippines.
The laws catering to the welfare of the elderly have evolved over time. Given the significant number of senior citizens in the country and seeing the growing concerns of the older population, the need to have inclusive laws and policies is required.
Republic Act No. 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010”2 approved on Feb. 15, 2010, and Republic Act No. 10645 or “An Act Providing for the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage of Senior Citizens”3 are the latest laws passed to cater to the needs of senior citizens.
Here is the complete list of benefits and privileges under both laws:
a. Twenty percent (20%) discount and VAT exemption on the purchase of the following:
- Generic and brand medicines and drugs;
- Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines;
- Vitamins and minerals supplements provided it is medically prescribed by the physician for prevention and treatment of disease, illness or injury;
- Medical supplies and equipment such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, prosthetics, artificial bone replacements like steel, walkers, crutches, wheelchairs whether manual or electric-powered, canes/quad canes, geriatric diapers, and other essential medical supplies, accessories, and equipment by or for senior citizen.
- Medical devices used or consumed during check-ups or confinement or to be used during the recovery at home or for monitoring of a particular disease or to aid the maintenance of treatment provided the physician prescribed the use of such medical devices;
- Medical and dental services in private facilities;
- Diagnostic laboratory tests (such as X-Rays, computerized tomography or CT scans, and blood tests) that are requested by a physician in private facilities;
- Professional fees of attending physicians in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and home care facilities;
- Professional fees of licensed health workers providing home health care services (e.g. doctors, nurses, midwives, nutritionists, psychologists, massage therapists) as endorsed by hospitals or employed through home health care employment agencies. The burden of the 20% discount and VAT exemption provided to senior citizens will be borne by the employment agency and NOT the health care worker given the minimal share of the latter compared to the total profits earned by the agency;
- Medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees and professional fees of attending physicians and other health professionals confined in pay sections of government hospitals/health facilities.
b. FREE on the following services in ALL service wards of government hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and home health care clinics:
- Medical and dental services;
- Diagnostic and laboratory services requested by the physician (e.g. X-Rays, computerized tomography or CT scans, blood tests);
- Professional fees of the attending doctor;
- Influenza virus and pneumococcal vaccinations administered by the DOH.
c. Mandatory Philhealth coverage.
Previously, only indigent senior citizens were covered by Philhealth. Currently, all senior citizens, regardless of status in life, are now covered by the national health insurance program of Philhealth. Thanks to Republic Act No. 10645 you can now enjoy the benefits under the program.
2. Transportation privileges.
a. Twenty percent (20%) discount and VAT exemption on the fare of the following:
- Domestic air and sea travel including advance booking;
- Public railways (MRT, LRT, and PNR);
- Public Utility buses, jeepneys, taxis and shuttle services.
- Senior citizens can get the 20% discount on Single Journey and Stored Value Tickets directly at all stations by presenting their valid OSCA (Office of the Senior Citizen’s Affairs)/NCDA (National Council on Disability Affairs) ID to the station tellers.
- Special seats behind the train operator’s cabin are reserved for senior citizens (along with PWDs and pregnant women/women with infants).
- In addition to the fare, domestic shipping companies/owners, operators of passenger-carrying ships shall also grant a 20% discount and VAT exemption on food and drinks, medicines on board, and services and recreation inside the ship. Courtesy and civility shall also be observed during embarkation and disembarkation.
- Air carriers are required to designate at least one (1) check-in counter which will prioritize senior citizens. In case a check-in counter is not possible, priority handling and processing should be made. Air carriers are required to coordinate with proper authorities for the use of airport equipment, entryways, etc. to facilitate transactions, movement, boarding, and/or disembarkation of senior citizens at the airport. One person can accompany a senior citizen at the designated check-in counter.
b. Exempt from payment of passenger terminal fees in airports and seaports.
3. Travel, entertainment, and recreation.
a. Twenty percent (20%) discount and VAT exemption on the following:
- Room accommodation and other amenities in hotels (including mountain and beach resorts) and similar establishments such as hotel-based parlors and barbershops, restaurants, massage parlor, spa, sauna bath, workout gyms, swimming pools, jacuzzis, aromatherapy rooms, KTV bars, Internet facilities, food, drinks, and other services offered. ;
- Food, drinks, desserts, and other consumable items in restaurants;
- Fees, charges, and rental for sports facilities and equipment including golf cart rentals and green fees; venues for ballroom dancing and yoga; badminton courts; bowling lanes; table or lawn tennis; workout gyms; and martial arts facilities. However, non-profit, stock golf and country clubs that offer exclusive membership (meaning they’re private/not open to the public) are NOT mandated to grant the 20% senior citizen discount. Meanwhile, restaurants inside these private country clubs are still required to give the discount provided they are independent concessionaires and the food they’re selling are not consumable items under club membership dues;
- Admission fees in culture, leisure, and amusement places such as theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals, museums, and parks.
- The discount on food, drinks, and desserts shall not apply to pre-contracted party packages or bulk orders.
- The discount for dine-in services in hotels and restaurants must personally be availed of by the senior citizen and no proxies or authorization in favor of another person who is not a senior citizen shall be honored.
- The discount shall apply to take-out, take-home or drive-thru orders as long as the senior citizen is present and personally ordering and can show the senior card.
- For delivery orders, the discount shall also apply provided the senior citizen card number must be given while making the order over the telephone and the senior citizen ID card must also be presented upon delivery to verify the identity of the senior citizen.
- For take-out, take-home, drive-thru, and delivery orders, the Most Expensive Meal (or the amount corresponding to the combination of the most expensive and biggest single-serving meal with beverage), shall apply to food purchases by senior citizens.
4. Utility discounts.
a. Five percent (5%) discount on the monthly utilization of water and electricity by a household with a senior citizen.
- To avail the discount, the meters for water and electricity should be registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein.
- The monthly consumption does not exceed one hundred kilowatts per hour (100kWh) of electricity and thirty cubic meters (30m’) of water.
- The discount is per household regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein.
b. Fifty percent (50%) discount on all electricity, water, telephone consumption for DSWD-accredited senior citizens centers and residential care institutions or group homes.
- The establishments are either government-run or a non-stock non-profit domestic corporation primarily organized and operated for the care of the elderly.
- The establishment must have been in operation for at least six (6) months and must have a separate meter for the said utilities.
- Exemption from payment of Value Added Tax (VAT) on the purchase of goods and services discussed herein.
- Exemption from payment of individual income tax provided the senior citizen is a minimum wage earner in accordance with Republic Act No. 9504.4
6. Funeral and burial services.
a. Twenty percent (20%) discount and VAT exemption on the purchase/payment of the following:
- Casket or urn
- Embalming services
- Viewing or wake cost
- Pick-up from the hospital morgue
- Transport of the body to the intended burial site in the place of origin
b. Death benefit assistance amounting to Two Thousand Pesos (Php 2,000) given to the nearest surviving relative who took care of the deceased indigent senior citizen.
- Obituary publication and cost of the memorial lot are excluded from the 20% discount.
- The person who can claim the discount is the beneficiary or any person who shouldered the funeral expenses of the deceased senior citizen. He/She can claim the discount upon presentation of the deceased senior citizen’s death certificate.
7. Basic necessities and prime commodities.
a. Five Percent (5%) discount on the purchase of the following basic necessities:
- All kinds of variants of rice;
- All kinds of bread (pastries and cakes not included);
- Fresh, dried, and canned fish, and other marine products (including frozen and in various mode of packaging);
- Fresh pork, beef, and poultry meat;
- All kinds of fresh eggs (excluding quail eggs);
- Potable water in bottles and containers;
- Fresh and processed milk (excluding milk labeled as a food supplement);
- Fresh vegetables including root crops;
- Fresh fruits;
- Locally manufactured instant noodles;
- Coffee and coffee creamer;
- All kinds of sugar and (excluding artificial sweetener);
- All kinds of cooking oil;
- Powdered, liquid, bar laundry, and detergent soap;
- Firewood, charcoal, all kinds of candles;
- Liquified petroleum gas, not more than 11 kgs, LPG content once every five months bought from LPG dealers;
- Kerosene, not more than 2 liters per month.
b. Five percent (5%) on the purchase of the following prime commodities:
- Dried, processed and canned pork, beef and poultry meat;
- Dairy products;
- Onions and garlic;
- Vinegar, patis and soy sauce;
- Toilet/bath and soap;
- Fertilizer, Pesticides, Herbicides;
- Poultry feeds, livestock feeds, and fishery feeds;
- Veterinary products;
- Paper, school supplies;
- Nipa shingles;
- Cement, Clinker, GI Sheets;
- Hollow blocks;
- Plywood, plyboard, construction nails;
- Batteries (excluding cell phone and automotive batteries);
- Electrical supplies and light bulbs;
- Steel wires
- The 5% discount can be availed of in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores and the like but EXCLUDING stalls in food courts, food carts, food vendors, sari-sari stores with capitalization of less than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php 100,000), public and private wet markets, “talipapa”, and other cooperative stores.
- The 5% discount is on the regular retail price excluding VAT.
- The total amount of purchase per calendar week is PHP 1,300.00 without carrying over to the unused amount.
- You will need to present your Purchase Booklet every time you purchase the basic necessities and prime commodities. The Purchase booklet can be obtained at OSCA (Office of the Senior Citizen’s Affairs).
- Special express lane, or, in the absence thereof, a priority lane, shall be provided by establishments to senior citizens.
- A double discount is not allowed. You may choose whether to avail of the senior citizen discount or the promotional discount.
- In case you can not personally buy the goods, you may authorize a representative to purchase on your behalf. The authorized representative will need to present an authorization letter, a valid ID, and your OSCA issued document.
8. Government assistance.
a. Information and matching services for potential employment opportunities.
b. Free livelihood training programs.
c. Access to formal and non-formal education provided by DepEd, the DOST-TRC, and TESDA.
d. Development and implementation of programs and social services for senior citizens including the creation of a National Health Program by the DOH catering to the needs of the elderly as well as incorporating the National Prevention of Blindness Program.
e. Inclusion of the special needs of senior citizens in the national shelter program including the establishment of housing units for the elderly.
f. Strict implementation of courtesy space and seats for the exclusive use of senior citizens in all transport systems.
g. Social pension amounting to five hundred pesos (Php 500) per month for indigent senior citizens.
How to Compute Senior Citizen Discount and VAT Exemption.
The twenty percent (20%) discount and the VAT exemption granted to senior citizens shall be computed in the following manner:
Step 1: The VAT shall be initially deducted from the retail price of the item to obtain the Net Retail Price.
To do this, you need to use this formula:
Selling Price/VAT Rate (12%) = VAT Exempt Sales
Assuming the selling price (retail price of the item including VAT) is Php 200.00. The senior citizen price will be computed as follows:
Retail price including VAT: Php 200.00
(divided by) VAT Rate: 1.12
Net Retail Price: Php 178.58
Step 2: The 20% discount shall then be deducted from the Net Retail Price to obtain the senior Citizen Price.
Net Retail Price: Php 178.58
Less 20% (178.58*0.20): Php 35.72
Senior Citizen’s Price: Php 142.86
What is the Office of Senior Citizen’s Affairs (OSCA)?
RA 9994 provides the creation of the Office of the Senior Citizen’s Affairs (OSCA). OSCA is an office established in cities and municipalities under the Office of the Mayor. It shall be headed by a senior citizen.
OSCA shall be responsible for the following, among others:
- Draw up a list of available and required services which can be provided to senior citizens;
- Update the list of senior citizens in the city or municipality; issue national uniform individual identification cards and booklets which is valid anywhere in the country;
- Act as general information and liaison center for the needs of the senior citizen;
- Monitor compliance of the provisions of the RA 9994 and its IRR particularly the grant of special discounts and privileges to senior citizens and report to the Mayor any violations thereof;
- Assist senior citizens in filing complaints or charges against any person or entity who are refusing to comply with the privileges under the law;
- Assist and coordinate with the concerned person or entity in investigating fraudulent practices and abuses of the discount and privileges exclusively granted to senior citizens.
Tips and Warnings.
- In case the senior citizen is also a Person with Disability (PWD) the Senior Citizen may opt to use either the Senior Citizen Card or the PWD Discount.
- In case an establishment failed to honor the 20% discount, the Senior Citizen can go to the LGU OSCA where the purchase was made or where the senior citizen resides, whichever is convenient for the senior citizen.
- The 20% discount and VAT exemption also apply to purchases of goods or services paid by the senior citizen through his/her credit card/s.
- Again, a double discount is not allowed. The senior citizen may opt to choose either the senior citizen discount or the promotional discount of a product. However, only the senior citizen discount is exempted from VAT.
- Please note that services that are not medically necessary for treatment and diagnosis shall not be provided with any discounts. Examples are cosmetic surgery procedures and executive check-up packages and physical examinations.
- The 20% discount and VAT exemption will only apply ONCE on the purchase of non-disposable medical devices for personal use such as weighing scale, blood pressure apparatus, and a glucometer.5
Frequently Asked Questions.
3. Are elderly foreigners residing in the Philippines entitled to senior citizen discounts and benefits?
4. Can a senior citizen bring a family member with him/her when using express lane privileges (e.g. airports, bus terminals, etc.)? How many family members can he or she bring?
5. I know a person who was given a senior citizen card even though the person is not yet a senior citizen. Are there any penalties for a person illegally using the card? What are the penalties?
12. If you are a senior citizen and you get hospitalized but you were not able to enroll prior to your hospitalization, can you still avail of the benefits?
About the Author.
Kareen Lucero is a lawyer previously doing litigation before working for different agencies in the government and for a multinational corporation. She has traveled to 52+ countries including a 3-month solo backpacking in South East Asia and more than 1 year of solo traveling across four continents in the world. As part of giving back, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of law and travel. She is currently doing consulting work for a government agency. Connect with her on Facebook.
- Philippine Statistics Authority. (2015). 2015 Fact Sheets on Senior Citizen [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://psa.gov.ph/system/files/2015%20Fact%20Sheets%20on%20Senior%20Citizen_pop.pdf?width=950&height=700&iframe=true
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (2010).
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. An Act Providing for the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage of Senior Citizens (2014).
- Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. An Act Amending Sections 22, 24, 34, 35, 51, and 79 of Republic Act No. 8424, as Amended, Otherwise Known as the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 (2008).
- Guidelines on the Grant of Twenty Percent (20%) Discount to Senior Citizens on Health-Related Goods and Services and for Other Purposes. (2012).