Whether social transfers should be targeted or universal is an unsolved debate influencing the implementation of social protection schemes in developing countries. While the limited availability of public resources encourages targeting, the difficulty to identify the poor promotes a universal allocation. To address this question, t his study examines the targeting performance of India’s social pension schem e and the factors associated with access in 2004 -05 and 2011- 12, a time period of important reforms addressing social pension coverage and amount. The analysis shows that t he reforms had limited success: The share of elderly poor not receiving social pensi ons decreased, but at the same time the share of elderly non -poor receiving social pensions slightly increased . Compared to a random allocation of social pensions , the benefits from targeting are very low despite of the implemented eligibility reforms . As intended by the reforms , holding a Below Poverty Line ration card has become the primary determinant of access to social pensions. However, this result holds also for non -poor individuals who exploit the unwarranted possession of a Below Poverty Line ration card to obtain social pension benefits. Even though the reforms were intended to make the beneficiary selection more transparent, the empirical results indicate that after the reforms individuals who have direct connections to local government offic ials are more likely to access social pension benefits.