Social protection and older persons with disabilities

Old age and disability are both core concerns of effective life cycle social protection systems, and the two issues are strongly intertwined. Prevalence of disability rises significantly at more advanced ages and is indeed a core part of the rationale for old age pension systems. However, not all older persons live with a disability, and there is significant diversity in the extent of functional limitations experienced by older persons with disability. Old age pensions alone are not equipped to address this diverse picture.

This brief seeks to bring greater clarity to the discussion by setting out the key issues at stake for building social protection systems that address disability in old age. The brief starts by surveying the landscape of disability and old age, and sets out the key building blocks of a comprehensive social protection response. The brief then describes the status quo in low- and middle-income countries, before outlining a trajectory for how countries can progressively realise a social protection system that addresses the challenges of disability in old age. While the brief primarily focuses on individuals who acquire disabilities at more advanced ages, the key framework, trends, and recommendations outlined are also relevant for persons who live with disability before reaching old age.