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Just one month after launching a toll free line for senior citizens, Executive Director of the National Council for Senior Citizens, Beverly Hall Taylor, is reporting overwhelming usage of service.
“The toll free line was well needed and it is being used by seniors. It has been well utilised not only for complaints; some persons call just to say hello and to have someone to talk to. They call for many different reasons, it is indeed a blessing, seniors feel at ease now because it is costing them nothing and it’s easy to keep in touch,” she stated.
Mrs. Taylor made the disclosure at a JIS, Think Tank, session yesterday (September 11) at the agency’s Half Way Tree Road headquarters.
“Persons call us about a number of different things and since the launch of the toll free line, we have recorded a total of 113 cases, some of which have been resolved. Some of these cases have to do with PATH, NIS, Poor Relief, legal assistance, and assistance for health services,” Mrs. Taylor informed.
Of the 113 cases, she explained that 34 have been resolved, 67 referred to other agencies, and others are currently being investigated. The Executive Director added that “some of these cases are as a result of the fact that persons are not aware of the procedures that they should take to access these benefits, we step in here and advise them as to what they should do.”
She pointed out for example, that with regard to the NIS, some persons are not aware of the necessary documents that they need in order to access their pension.
“Some persons complained about not getting their pension after they have applied, sometimes the necessary documentations are not brought in so it is delayed or it is slow on the part of the Ministry. We have also had persons complaining about not getting pension when in fact they did not contribute enough to the NIS, so we have to refer them to poor relief,” Mrs. Taylor emphasised.
She is however, advising seniors that they cannot get benefits from more than one Government programme unless it is an emergency.
“I am advising seniors that you cannot get benefit from two Government programmes unless it is an emergency. For instance, if you are on the PATH programme it is impossible to get benefit from NIS, and it is the same if you are on the NIS programme,” she said.
She is however urging seniors or their family members to use the lines during the day, as someone will always be there to listen and give guidance, stressing however, that after office hours, seniors should call the police, if the reason for the call cannot wait until the following day.
The toll free line was launched on August 12, by State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Andrew Gallimore. The toll free number is 1-888- 736-4677.