Up

Ukrainian pensions in occupied territories: from being credited the funds to receiving them 04/13/2023 15:00:00. Total views 1553. Views today — 0.

Ukraine continues to credit pensions to the accounts of all residents of temporarily occupied territories. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, there has never been a question in the public sphere about stopping these payments. The only difficulty lies in actually receiving those pensions.

"As for the calculations, the money is deposited into accounts regardless of political views. If my neighbor, who has always been pro-russian and waited for putin, received a Ukrainian pension of 3,000 hryvnias on her bank card before the full-scale war, she continues to receive these payments now. Even more so, because there was an indexation of Ukrainian pensions. The problem is only in how to receive this money in cash. Yes, it has become more difficult lately, but this problem can also be solved", - told OstroV a pensioner living in the occupied Mariupol.

Ukrainian pensions and other social benefits, which continue to be calculated, allow many residents of temporarily occupied territories to survive.

"The prices here are already russian, but salaries and pensions are kind of special. One minimum russian salary is not enough to make ends meet", - admits a resident of Mariupol.

The majority of pensioners in the occupied territories receive around 10,000 russian rubles. And although putin recently signed a law providing that pensions and additional social security will be paid according to russian standards in the occupied territories from March 1, local residents have not yet felt the effects of this.

According to the advisor to the mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko, a russian passport is required to recalculate pensions: "To receive a pension, you need a russian passport. No passport, no money. They told there would not be any compulsory passportization. However, even with their passport, there won't be any pension without the necessary documents that are also required but impossible to provide because they were lost. As a result, only a passport will remain instead of a pension. That's how it is".

Moreover, there are other problems that arise during the recalculation of pensions. For example, it is necessary to provide original documents, although many residents have lost them as a result of active combat.

"I managed to get a duplicate of my work record book from Kyiv to replace the burned one. Lawyers from moscow insist that they are obliged to accept it! But the pension fund's hotline refuses to do so! Only the original document, they say! I apologized for not collecting the ashes... Has anyone had a duplicate accepted? Thank you all", - Khrystyna from Melekine writes in one of the local Telegram channels.

She also admits that while trying to recalculate her russian pension, she continues to receive her Ukrainian pension.

Ukraine continues to make pension payments

OstroV has made an official request to the Pension Fund of Ukraine to find out whether pension payments to residents of the occupied territories are still being made and how they can receive these payments.

"According to paragraph 2 of Resolution No. 457 "On Support for Certain Categories of the Population Affected by the Military Aggression of the russian federation against Ukraine" of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated April 16, 2022, for persons residing in settlements located in temporary occupation, encirclement (blockade), all social payments (pensions, social benefits, privileges and subsidies, etc.) continue to be paid in full", - the Pension Fund of Ukraine replied.

Recipients who receive their pension payments through a bank have their pension amounts transferred to their current accounts opened in authorized banks.

"The conditions for withdrawing funds from a current account at a bank are determined by the agreement between the pension recipient and the authorized bank", - explained the Pension Fund of Ukraine to OstroV.

Our sources, living in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk oblast, confirmed that Ukrainian pension payments are still being made in full.

"My pension continues to be transferred to my bank card. It will expire soon, but the bank said it will automatically be extended until the end of the martial law. I used to receive SMS messages, but it's more complicated now. Thanks to online banking account, I can check that the money has been credited. The amount has not decreased, so there is nothing to complain about", - pensioner from Mariupol Iryna told OstroV.

According to her, all her acquaintances who remained in the occupied territory also receive their pension in full.

"There hasn't been a single delay. Everything is more or less on time. No one has complained about the Ukrainian pension", - she notes.

Donetsk local Serhiy says that the Ukrainian pension has been transferred regularly since the start of the full-scale invasion. But this only applies to those who managed to register its receiving via bank account and create their personal online banking account.

"Earlier you could give your bank card to someone to withdraw your pension from the ATM for a certain fee. Now, there is no such luxury, the checkpoints are not working. Everything has to be done online. Of course, various "intermediaries" offer their services, but it's easy to run into fraudsters. Those who have already created online banking account, are now enjoying the perks. They not only receive their pension, but they can also get it in cash", - he said.

The main problem is that not all residents of the occupied territories (especially after February 24, 2022) have arranged for a bank card to receive their pensions. Many received payments in cash through Ukrainian Postal Service (Ukrposhta) at their place of residence. As of 2021, there were 3.6 million such pensioners in Ukraine. According to the CEO of Ukrposhta, Ihor Smelyansky, this was due to the fact that bank branches were only available in 5% of settlements, and ATMs for cash withdrawal were only available in 30% of cities and villages across the country. By the time of the full-scale invasion, the situation with banks had only worsened - they only had branches in 3.9% of settlements.

As a result, this category of pensioners will not be able to receive their Ukrainian pensions without coming to the territory under Ukraine's control.

All they could do to calm people down, was to promise that all their pension payments would be preserved and paid later.

According to Ukraine's Minister of Social Policy, Maryna Lazebna, the entire amount of the pension will be transferred to accounts in Oschadbank for pensioners who remained in the territories that are occupied, and where active combat operations are taking place, because Ukrposhta has no technical capability to deliver the pensions there.

The pensioner will be able to receive the funds from their account at any Oschadbank branch on safe territory immediately upon presenting their passport and tax code certificate and signing a bank account agreement.

If a person does not visit Oschadbank to obtain the funds, the entire amount of the pension will be saved, and as soon as Ukrposhta restores the ability to deliver it to the person's place of residence, the person will receive the unpaid amount of pension and the pension for the current period.

If a pensioner has moved to a safe territory, then upon their request to the Pension Fund, their pension can be paid through Ukrposhta at their new location or through Oschadbank or another authorized bank.

On social media, you can come across stories of pensioners who travel from the occupied territories to the government controlled ones, re-register their pensions and return back.

"An acquaintance of mine recently traveled by bus from Mariupol to Poland to visit her relatives. She stopped in Lviv, re-registered her pension at a bank, received a decent accumulated amount, and also registered for the IDP allowance of 2000 hryvnia per month. She exchanged the cash she received for dollars and returned back to Mariupol. The cost of the trip was covered by one month of payments. Now we are thinking of taking advantage of this too. I am not eligible for receiving a pension yet, but I will reach the retirement age in a year and I want to come there and register it", - Khrystyna writes in one of the local Telegram channels.

In the comments, users also share their stories, although most of them are about trips to the controlled territory of Ukraine through the Zaporizhzhia oblast. Such trips are currently impossible, so people are considering options for traveling there through the EU. Such a trip costs around 300-400 euros one way and takes about three days. On social media, you can find dozens of ads offering trips, for example, from Mariupol to Kyiv or other cities.

"We travel daily from Mariupol to Kyiv, the cost is 350 euros. One pedestrian crossing at the checkpoint Novoazovsk, then you get back on a bus and ride to Warsaw, where you are transferred to a bus to Ukraine. Comfortable buses for 8 people with Wi-Fi, there are stops at gas stations every 2-3 hours. The trip will be as comfortable as possible", - said one of the trip organizers, Anastasiia, to the OstroV correspondent.

Another way to enter the controlled territory of Ukraine is through the checkpoint Kolotylivka (from the russian side, it is Belgorod oblast, and from the Ukrainian side, Sumy oblast). But as a rule, regular carriers do not travel this route, since it operates only in one direction (from russia to Ukraine) and requires thorough control by Ukrainian law enforcers.

How to receive Ukrainian pension

Let's focus in more detail on how residents in the occupied territories can receive a Ukrainian pension without traveling to the controlled territory.

Dozens of ads can be found on social networks offering assistance in cashing Ukrainian pensions for a commission of 10-20% of the amount.

In short, the scheme looks like this: you transfer the pension to the intermediary's Ukrainian bank card, who either gives you cash rubles on the spot or transfers them to a russian bank card.

Recently, the latter option has become the most popular one, since russian banks have appeared in the occupied territories.

The intermediary's earnings consist of a commission (10-20%) and an unfavorable exchange rate, which as of the beginning of April 2023 averages from "1 hryvnia = 1.8 rubles" to " 1 hryvnia = 1.5 rubles". Competition has reached such a degree that you can come across a rate of 1 to 2. However, social media comments say that such a high exchange rate may indicate that you have encountered scammers.

This scheme works perfectly if you:

- managed to set a bank card as a way to receive pensions,

- have set up your personal online banking account,

- have unrestricted access to your account.

It is precisely the last item that often causes difficulties, as in most cases, to log into your online banking account or transfer money to another card, you need confirmation in the form of an SMS or phone call. Ukrainian mobile operators do not work in the occupied territories, but even this situation has been resolved.

OstroV’s journalist, posing as a pensioner who needs to cash out their Ukrainian pension, contacted one of the intermediaries in Mariupol. The intermediary immediately clarified if there was access to online banking and promised to restore it himself if it was not available. Later it turned out that Anatolii (the name the intermediary introduced himself as) lives in the territory under Ukrainian control and has been providing such services for a long time.

In case of losing access to online banking, the intermediary suggested restoring the SIM card in Ukraine and then logging into Privat24 online banking using it to transfer money to him. In exchange, he promised to transfer rubles to a russian card at a rate of 1 to 1.8. According to him, the transfer will be made from the territory of russia.

"I receive hryvnias, you receive rubles. We used to offer cash payments, but now we only work with non-cash transfers. For safety, you can transfer a small amount first and check how everything works", - he said.

For restoring the Ukrainian SIM card or for a full consultation on how to do it yourself, Anatolii additionally charges 1000 rubles.

However, on social media, you can find instructions on how to do it yourself.

For example, you can log in to the Oschadbank online banking app without making calls or sending SMS messages. To do this, it is recommended to download the Oschad24/7 app.

"If you don't receive an SMS when logging in/registering, go to the bank's website. In the Contact Details section, select Web Call option and Continue Without Authorization option", - the instructions say.

After that, the Oschadbank contact center operator will conduct a full verification and will be able to change the password delivery channel for 24 hours so that you can complete the registration.

Then you need to log in to the app, click Resend SMS button and the message will be sent to your Viber account. In the future, all transactions can also be carried out through Viber, without being tied to a Ukrainian phone number.

There is also a separate instruction on how to access the Privat24 account in the absence of mobile network. It is a bit more complicated. To do this, you need internet access, a passport or an ID card, PIN code of the bank card and a phone with a camera (for a selfie).

First, you need to turn on VPN (so that your current location is not tracked), enter PrivatBank help chat and type "How to log in to Privat24 if I am in a location where there is no mobile network?". When the operator connects, you will pass verification (via PIN code and mobile phone number). After that, a form for filling in will appear:

1. Full name:

2. Address of registration, which is known to the bank;

3. Date of birth;

4. Additionally, they may ask for the full name of your wife/husband, etc.

Then you will need to take a selfie with the ID card or passport. If everything goes well, access to the online banking account will be granted. However, some users comment that you will need to go through this procedure again to log in anew.

Another way for residents of occupied territories to pass verification is to find places where Ukrainian mobile network still works (there are even lists of such locations), intentionally go there and contact the bank. In social networks, you can find ads selling Ukrainian starter packs and cards for topping up accounts.

Despite the difficulties in receiving pensions, Ukrainian pensioners in the occupied territories continue to have their pensions credited. Pensioner Iryna from Mariupol does not believe in the return of Ukrainian authorities to the city, but is grateful for the care and support.

"I receive the minimum pension, whether in Ukraine or russia. Combined, they help me to survive somehow, so I'm not complaining. There are those who have it much harder. But I'm wondering, if Ukraine does get Mariupol back after all, will russia continue to pay us pensions?", - the pensioner says.

Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV