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Refereed articles

Come back when you are 65, Sir': Discrimination in respect of access to social assistance for the elderly

Section 27 of the South African Constitution guarantees 'for everyone' the right of access to social security, while section 9 prohibits unfair discrimination on any ground, including sex and gender. Rosaan Kruger examines whether the existing old age pension regime, which makes females eligible for state pensions at the age of 60 but males only at 65, contravenes these provisions.

She argues that the original reasons for distinguishing between men and women in pension matters have largely fallen away and, if confronted with the question, a court will seriously have to consider the anti-discrimination imperative in deciding whether the distinction between old age pension grants is a reasonable limitation on the right of access to social security. Older men who might, but for the age differentiation, have qualified for an old age pension will be particularly vulnerable. Failure of the state to provide indigent men with access to old age pensions from the age of 60, it is concluded, should be viewed as unreasonable and unconstitutional.

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