- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 23, 2003 

Age and Wage: New law offers social change but also social concern

80-year-old Astghik Pirumyan hopes the conditions for pensioners will be better when her daughter is her age.

A new law on retirement benefits may help Armenia achieve gender balance among its working population, however, the short-term effect has created controversy among present pensioners.

On March 31 President Robert Kocharyan signed the law changing retirement age for women to 63 (previously 59) and lowering the age for men from 64 to 63.

"The new law gives a chance for women to work longer and increase seniority and therefore get salary longer which is higher than a pension," says Artem Asatryan, head of the Pension Security Department of the Ministry of Social Security.

Asatryan says that the pension age for women will be converted in six month stages, so that by 2011 retirement age for men and women will be the same.

But some pensioners are saying the change in law ignores reality in Armenia. Specifically, many citizens who are not yet retirement age find themselves unemployable because of their age, yet not old enough to receive a pension.

Zhanna Matevosyan, an unemployed refugee from Baku, had worked for almost 40 years. She does not get a pension, however, as she is only 58.

She lives in Praga hotel on Komitas street with other refugees and survives on a 4,000 dram (about $7) disability pension.

"Before this new law I hoped that I would get a pension of at least 5,000 drams (about $9) starting next year," Matevosyan says. "But now I have to wait for two more years.

"I don't know how I will survive any longer, when (the government) makes the pension age even higher. How many people will see their pension? Should we all be reduced to poverty and death and then get pension?"

Asatryan says that the most valuable part of the new law is an introduction of the individual coefficient of a pensioner.

According to the new law each pensioner will get an individual coefficient. For those people whose working experience is less than 25 years the individual coefficient will make less than one. That will mean that to the basic pension of 3,000 drams will be added 2,500 dram (100 for each year). Those people whose length of service is more than 25 years the coefficient is more than one. For example for people with 40 years experience the coefficient is 1.3. That will mean that in addition to a basic pension of 3,000 drams another 100 drams will be added for each year of work multiplied by the individual coefficient. In other words the longer a person works, the higher the pension will be.

In Armenia where the monthly cost of living ranges from 28,000 - 35,000 ($50-$60), pensioners are the most vulnerable. Even the highest pension hardly satisfies basic needs.

Artem Asatryan and others who administer pension plans say the pension age will be the same for men and women by 2011.

Marieta and Sergey Arustamyan are pensioners receiving 11,000 drams (about $19).

"We have debt for electricity, water and other community services," Marieta says. "Our pension is hardly enough for bread, sugar and potatoes."

Both Marieta and Sergey have working experience of 30 years. They had hoped their pension would increase. But under the coefficient system the increase will be only 1,000 drams.

According to the Ministry of Social Security, there are 543,000 pensioners in Armenia. This year's budget for pensions is 38 billion drams (about $65 million).

The minimum pension is 3,000 (about $5) and the average is 6,200 drams (about $10). The average worker's salary in Armenia is 24,000 drams (about $40).

According to social statistics at least 23 percent of pensioners survive mostly due to humanitarian assistance - most of it coming from Paros (the Armenian charitable organization), which gives each of the 23 percent 4,000 drams per month.

According to other estimations almost half of pensioners are underfed. A loaf of bread in Armenia is 100 dram. One kilogram of meat is 1,200, sugar is 200 (the same is lentil, rice and potatoes). With the minimal $5 a month, a pensioner could afford only to buy 30 loaves of bread.

Astghik Pirumyan, an 80-year-old pensioner, says in wintertime she has to choose whether to buy bread or heat her apartment. She has a daughter who is married, but she lives in poor financial conditions, too, and cannot help her mother.

"There was a time when I was young and healthy. I never thought that in my old age I would survive on other people's mercy."

Her neighbors help her by providing bread and rice. Pirumyan says she does not complain of her life but rather thinks of how her daughter will live when she too becomes a pensioner.

According to Agnes
  Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.


Age and Wage: New law offers social change but also social concern

Full story


Healthy Outlook: Visitors to Day Center find new view on mental disorder

Full story


Space to Grow: US cooperation gives boost to astro research

Full story


  Photo of the week
  Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
  Happy Birthday Chuck


Charles Aznavour was in Yerevan Thursday to celebrate his 79th birthday. The French recording artist (and "Ararat" film star) was welcomed by fans and dignitaries.



Copyright 2002-2021. All rights reserved.

The contents of this website cannot be copied, either wholly or partially, reproduced, transferred, loaded, published or distributed in any way without the prior written consent of