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Monday, August 8, 2022

None of the Previous Governments Have Done So Much for Retirees as This One

By: Janja Strah

The extraordinary adjustment of pensions has made lots of retirees very happy, as did the solidarity allowance paid to mitigate the consequences of Covid-19 and the announced energy solidarity allowance, which is expected to be paid by the 15th of April 2022. Janez Sušnik, the President of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations, has pointed out that no other government has done so much for retirees as this one, and what is especially welcome is its redressing of the injustices from the past.

Higher pensions for retirees
Retirees received higher pensions last week. Pensions and other benefits accrued by the end of 2010 were additionally adjusted by 3.5 percent, pensions and other benefits accrued by the end of 2011 by 1.7 percent, and all other pensions by one percent. This was made possible by an amendment to the Pension and Disability Insurance Act, which was adopted in order to eliminate the backlog in the adjustments of pensions and other benefits that were accrued before the end of 2010, and those accrued before the end of 2011.

Thus, the adjusted minimum pension now amounts to 282.36 euros, the guaranteed pension 626.20 euros, and the minimum amount of the disability pension 392.43 euros. In addition to the extraordinary adjustment, a regular adjustment of pensions was also recently announced. According to the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of Slovenia (Zavod za pokojninsko in invalidsko Slovenije), the regular adjustment is expected to amount to approximately four percent and will be carried out in February.

The proposed amendment was submitted by the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (Demokratska stranka upokojencev Slovenije – DeSUS), which wanted to enable a 3.5 percent adjustment for all retirees. However, the calculations of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of Slovenia showed that the deficit due to the underpaid salaries in the past is not the same for all pensioners, or that some are already in a more favourable position due to the extraordinary adjustments than they would be if the pensions were being adjusted according to the framework law. Therefore, the coalition submitted an amendment to the DeSUS proposal, and the National Assembly adopted the amended amendment with 81 votes in favour and none against it.

Solidarity energy allowance
In mid-January, the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute also paid another solidarity allowance to pensioners on the basis of the new intervention law to mitigate the consequences of Covid-19. The allowance was paid in the amounts of 130 to 300 euros, depending on the amount of the pension or compensation received by the beneficiary in December 2021.

In addition, retirees are also expected to receive a solidarity energy allowance. Namely, the government approved the legislative proposal on urgent measures to mitigate the consequences of the impact of high energy prices and on measures to mitigate the consequences of the rising energy prices in the economy and agriculture, which must also be approved by the National Assembly. According to this proposal, around 465,000 pensioners who received a maximum pension of 1,000 euros in December, and around 67,000 of those who were the beneficiaries of social assistance or security allowance in December, as well as those who were eligible for the invalidity allowance in December, will receive a solidarity energy allowance in the amount of 150 euros before the 15th of April. The Energy Act also envisages an average 35 percent reduction in the prices of electricity bills for households for three months, which, of course, also applies to pensioners.

We have never seen such adjustments before
Janez Sušnik,
the President of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations (Zveza društev upokojencev Slovenije), is very pleased with all of the above. On the show Tema dneva (Topic of the day) on Nova24TV, he said that pensioners have never before experienced such pensions adjustments. He also said that the harmonisation is coming at the perfect time because we have seen many price increases lately. However, the harmonisation will help the pensioners face them. “This will mitigate the effects of the current situation, given all these price increases that are currently happening in the market. Especially because retirees with lower pensions will also receive the third crisis allowance to help them cover the energy expenses. Every euro counts.” Regarding the proposed 150-euro solidarity energy allowance, Sušnik said that “that is a really nice amount. Some people say that it has come too late, but that is not true. Whenever it comes, it will be welcome.”

According to Sušnik, the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations cannot imagine anything else happening at the moment. “I think that the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia will be wise enough to adopt the proposal that is in front of us and which we have already seen and discussed. I believe that the proposal is good. However, those who are not satisfied now are probably never satisfied with anything,” he pointed out, adding that the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations is extremely pleased with the interventions and coordination. He pointed out that June is also approaching, which is when the annual bonuses also come. “I would like to thank the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute, as well as the government and the deputies, for making sure that this matter was dealt with. We are pleased that we have finally achieved the desired adjustments, at least this once.”

Some retirees can hardly believe that this is actually happening
Thus, the retirees will benefit from a whole bunch of good moves made by the government. “This got a lot of retirees talking. Some don’t even believe that it will actually happen. But we can already see that it really will,” Sušnik said. He also commented on the tweet posted by the Party of Alenka Bratušek (Stranka Alenke Bratušek – SAB), which recently made rounds on Twitter, in which they are counting down the days to the election while promising that they will continue to defend the interests of the retirees – apparently, this party believes that the current government did not do much for the pensioners. When asked what the truth is about the care for pensioners during this government, compared to the previous ones, Sušnik said that this is his second term as President of the Federation of Pensioners’ Associations, which means that he had worked under many prime ministers and ministers.

“As much as has happened during the current government’s term, has not happened under any government in the past. Not one. This is where the biggest increase happened, and what is essential is that there has finally been a redress of injustices from the years 2010 to 2015. We did not expect that. We were counting on something to be done in December this year and something in December of next year. But it is commendable that it all came at once. It does not make sense to complain about any of this,” Sušnik pointed out.

The data on the growth of the average net old-age pension in the last ten years, that has been published in the latest publication of the Monthly Statistical Review (Mesečni Statistični Pregled), which is issued by the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute of Slovenia, is also very telling. Namely, the highest growth rates were recorded in 2020 and 2021, during the government of Janez Janša.

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