Stella, 108, gets her pension...finally
Wednesday, January 30 2013
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AT LONG LAST: Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh presents a pension cheque for Stella Browne, 108, (lying in bed) to her niece Cynthia Athe...
A TOTAL of $100,000 was owed to 108-year-old Stella Browne, after she stopped receiving her senior citizen’s grant in May 2010, Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said yesterday at Browne’s Ariapita Avenue home after presenting her with two cheques.
While she did not open her eyes, Browne was aware of
her visitors and thanked the Minister.
Browne, who is bedridden and diabetic, has no children and is being cared for by her three nieces, one of whom lives abroad and assists in covering expenses. Browne who suffered a stroke on her left side, does not hear well or speak much.
According to niece Cynthia Atherton, the family spends over $15,000 per month in caring for Browne. “She’s like a mother to us. She helped us from small. She worked very hard all her life from age 14 to 80 to maintain her family. Her father, died at war so she was the sole breadwinner until her brother was old enough to do so,” said Atherton.
She told Newsday her family was glad that everything has come to a conclusion after they had been trying to rectify the problem for many years. Atherton said the nieces had to leave work on many occasions to visit the social welfare office in search for Browne’s documents, which occupied a lot of their time.
Ramadharsingh stated that while the problem originated before the People’s Partnership came into power, he is happy they were able to resolve it.
“This is justice for one of our centenarians. We do apologise because whether or not the problems started before or when we were here, we are the Ministry of the People and we must apologise.
“We have done all we can to make it better and we really wish her all the best,” he said.
He noted Browne’s case only came to the attention of the Ministry a few days ago, when her dilemma was highlighted by Independent Senator Corinne Baptiste-McKnight in the Senate.
He attempted to explain a situation which he described as “really inexplicable” saying, “Her file was opened and there were difficulties in retrieving information, so they went back to the old file, attempting to get the new file... in between all of that, the persons who were seeking to help her would have become unduly frustrated.”
Ramadharsingh said the Ministry began preparing the cheques to be presented to Browne on Monday.
However, future pension cheques would be deposited directly into Brown’s account, and the names of the family members who have taken responsibility for her, would be put on the system so they could access the funds in the account.
He also noted that, later this year, a biometric system would be applied to the senior citizen grant operation. At that time, 78,000 clients would be on a database where case information would be easily retrieved.