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Stockholmers 'retire' in droves to exploit pensioner discounts

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10:16 CEST+02:00
Thousands of Swedes are claiming hefty pensioner discounts despite being in gainful employment, due a loophole enabling them to draw some of their pension in advance.

“In the trade we usually call them ‘Stockholm Transport pensioners', said Kristina Kamp, economist at the Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) referring to the hefty rebates that are awarded by Stockholm transport to the elderly.

In fact, according to Kamp, pensioners pay so much less on Stockholm's public transport that Stockholmers are over-represented in the stats when it comes to these claims.

Anyone between 61 and 64, even if they are working full-time and only claim the smallest amount of pension (25 percent) are eligible for a certificate identifying them as pensioners, from the Swedish Pensions Agency.

Being able to prove you are a pensioner entitles seniors to cheaper rates on Stockholm public transport, cheaper theatre tickets and money off museum admissions.

Even if the drawn pension itself is small, there are thousands to be made in rebates.

According to news agency TT, SL is reporting a rise in sales of pensioner public transport passes, but there may be many reasons behind this – not in the least an aging population.

And according to Kamp, taking out some of your pension in advance is never risk-free. Because once in the system as a pensioner, it isn't easy to remove that label.

“If you lost your job you'd suddenly be viewed as a pensioner and would receive less money in unemployment benefits,“ Kamp warned.

According to Kamp, there are many reasons why people start claiming their pension in advance.

She mentioned an incident she had heard of where someone needed extra money to afford a new chain saw. Claiming some of your pension seems to be seen as a lot easier than taking out a personal loan.

“But, what you should remember then is that you are digging in to your future income," Kamp said.

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