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Welfare Minister Proposes Pension Break for Disabled
Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi has proposed a plan to pay half the amount of a special pension benefit for disabled people to some of those who are not legally eligible. About 120,000 people who had not joined the national pension program by the time they become disabled and who were students before April 1991 would be eligible to benefits to be paid as an exceptional measure.
However, foreign residents, unemployed people and the wives of salaried workers, who were disabled before joining the pension program, would not be subject to the exceptional measure.
Sakaguchi unveiled the plan during a lecture meeting held in Akita over the weekend, which was organized by Komeito, a ruling coalition party that backs him. Sakaguchi proposed it as his private plan.
In 1986, the government made it compulsory for those aged 20 or over to join the national pension program. However, students aged 20 or over had not been required to join it until April 1991.
The amount of the pension disabled people will receive depends on the degree of their handicap, with the upper limit set at 1 million yen a year.
Sakaguchi proposed that taxpayers' money should be used to cover the pension benefits to be paid as an exceptional measure because ministry bureaucrats are opposed to disbursing money from the pension fund.
"If the pension fund's money were used to pay benefits to those who have not paid premiums, nobody would be willing to pay premiums," an official of the ministry's Pension Bureau said.
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