The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is stepping up its efforts to encourage more eligible people to enroll in the government’s new social pension scheme.
The $800 million initiative, launched last July, targets all Jamaican citizens aged 75 and over, who currently do not receive any pension (overseas or local) or any other retirement, old age or retirement benefits. disability or regular income, and who are not living in a government institutionalized care facility.
Currently, 7,800 people are enrolled in the program, who receive $6,800 every two months, which is credited to their bank account or paid through the remittance agency chosen by the applicant (JN Money Services, Bill Express or Paymaster ).
Elsa Marks Willis, project director for the ministry’s Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) program, says the goal for this exercise is to increase the number of beneficiaries to 20,000.
“We have a number of advertisements inviting people and providing information. We also work in partnership with our churches on the ground to disseminate information. Our social workers are in the communities to register people,” she notes.
The social pension program will be an important part of the ministry’s series of community engagements in the first quarter of this fiscal year.
“Some time ago we had this initiative, but due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) we had to reduce. But now we are getting some relief or reprieve from the pandemic and so we will be back in the communities.
“You will hear a lot more about this in the media to say when we will be in your community, or in your parish, to give you access to all the Ministry programs and especially the social retreat and the PATH program,” says Ms. Marks Willis .
To register for this benefit, individuals can visit any parish ministry office throughout the island. They will need to complete a social pension application form, along with their Tax Registration Number (TRN), National Insurance Scheme (NIS) card and proof of age in the form of a certificate of birth or a valid passport.
They must also bring valid identification (ID) such as a driver’s license, passport or voter’s card, proof of bank account and any other documents that may be required to process the application, e.g. proof of citizenship.
The application form can be attested and stamped by one of the following persons: justice of the peace (JP), minister of religion, doctor, school principal, bank manager, police officer with the rank of inspector and at the above or by an appointed official at Director level or above, and Ministry, Department or Agency (MDA).
“Once you have met the age and citizenship requirements and are not receiving any other social benefits, you will be duly registered in the program to start receiving benefits,” says Ms Marks Willis.
PATH recipients age 75 and older will not need to complete an application. These people will be transferred to the new program.
The project director adds that the ministry will work closely with the Revenue Authority of Jamaica (TAJ), the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), as well as the electoral office, to help people acquire the necessary documents.
Meanwhile, Ms Marks Willis tells JIS News that the social pension scheme is important in providing income for people who are not receiving any sort of support.
“We find that less than half of the employed workforce is currently contributing to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). So if you don’t have any other options or a pension, you can already see the impact when you reach retirement in terms of meeting some of your basic needs,” she points out.
“So right away the social pension program is helping to bridge that gap in terms of income support. People are living longer, and so… this is one more step towards ensuring an effective social protection system that can support the most vulnerable, in this case the elderly,” she adds. .
Ms Marks Willis advises people not to apply if they know they are not eligible.
“The criteria are clearly set out in the form, and it says that if you give incorrect or false information, you can be prosecuted for it. But apart from that, administratively, we have set up a social pension management information system, which is connected to the PATH beneficiary management information system and the national insurance system and is also linked to the Jamaica Revenue Authority,” she points out. .
“So we can do this triangular cross-matching of names, TRNs, NIS, PATH numbers to see if people are trying to access more than one benefit,” she adds.
For more information about the social pension program, individuals can call the ministry’s security division at 876-922-8000-9 or visit the nearest parish office.