The Korea Herald


1,533 retired couples get at least W3m in state pension: report

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 29, 2024 - 18:02

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A total of 1,533 retired couples in South Korea were receiving a combined benefit of 3 million won ($2,200) a month via the state-run pension program as of January of this year, the National Pension Service said Wednesday.

According to the NPS, the number of couples getting at least 3 million-won benefit between them has increased each year since three couples passed the threshold for the first time in 2017. The number has increased exponentially since then, going from 196 in 2021 to 565 in 2022, 1,120 in 2023 and 1,533 in January of 2024.

The 3 million-won mark is a significant figure for a pensioner couple, since it is close to an ideal monthly spending for a retired couple, according to a recent survey. The Bank of Korea, Statistics Korea and the Financial Supervisory Service released a joint report in December, which showed that the amount required for a satisfactory retired life for a couple was 3.24 million won.

The minimal required amount for a retired couple was 2.31 million won a month, the study conducted on 20,000 households across the country showed.

The NPS report showed that the couple getting the highest benefit of the National Pension program out of all subscribers was receiving 4.86 million won a month, 2.48 million won paid to the wife and 2.38 paid to the husband.

As of January of 2024, there were 672,000 couples in the country in which both the husband and the wife were receiving payouts from the state-run pension. It marked a consistent increase from 355,000 couples in 2019.

On average, pensioner couples across the nation were receiving a combined 1.03 million won a month. An average subscriber of the state-run pension program was receiving 643,337 won per month.

South Korea mandates anyone between the age of 18 and 59 living here with a fixed income to subscribe to the NPS. The state-run pension program was introduced in 1988 to address the senior poverty issue in the country.

A person must be subscribed to the program for a minimum of 10 years to receive the benefit, but the state has a credit system that shortens the mandated subscription period for mothers of multiple children or men who served their mandatory military duty.

The state pension program has been deemed mostly successful in terms of addressing elder poverty, but the rapidly aging population has raised concerns that it will run out of money. The Korea Development Institute projects the National Pension funds will be depleted by 2054 if the country keeps course.

There has been a push for a reform of the National Pension program, but the friction between the ruling and opposition parties resulted in the talks being grounded during the legislative phase. The talks for the pension reform are expected to resume in the 22nd National Assembly, slated to launch on Thursday.