The Ministry of Labor and Social Security will launch a life certificate for the new social pension program in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
A life certificate is an official document used to verify that a pensioner is still alive and therefore eligible to receive a government pension.
“[This] is documentation that each beneficiary will be required to produce twice a year to substantiate their living status,” Elsa Marks Willis, project director for the Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) program at the ministry, told JIS. News.
“This life certificate will need to be verified by one of the people named on the certificate, who can certify that you are alive and still need the benefit. Once this is not received by the ministry, we will have to withhold payment until we can determine your living status,” she stressed.
The $800 million social pension program, 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 disability or regular income, and 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 ).
The ministry is looking to increase the number of beneficiaries to 20,000 this fiscal year.
Marks Willis told JIS News that there are other measures in place to verify a beneficiary’s living status.
“The beneficiary must either collect payment or have an agent appointed to act on their behalf. If the payment is not collected, it is a red flag after two missed payments. So if you haven’t collected two payments, we’ll suspend [it] and an investigation is launched to find out why you have not received payment,” she explained.
“If it’s just a case where you were sick and you can’t recover, we write a caseworker’s report and then we’ll reinstate you for the next payment,” Marks Willis noted.
To register for the social pension program, people can go to any parish ministry office across 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.
For more information about the program, individuals can call the Ministry Safety Division at 876-922-8000-9 or visit the nearest parish office.