Are there any other contributions that an employer can deduct from my wages?
Yes. Regardless of your age, your employer is entitled to deduct contributions that go towards the Housing and Social Development Levy. However, if you are earning less than one thousand and eighty-three dollars and thirty-three cents per month, you will be exempt from such deduction. If you earn one thousand and eighty-three dollars and thirty-three cents and over per month, your employer may deduct three percent [3%] of your wages to be paid towards the levy. If your wages are more than six thousand, five hundred dollars [$6, 500] per month, your employer is entitled to deduct 8% from that portion of your wages that is above $6, 500 up to eight thousand dollars to be paid towards the Levy. Social Security is the collecting agent for the levy. If your wages are more than eight thousand dollars per month, your employer is entitled to deduct levy at the rate of 10 percent from that portion of your wages above eight thousand dollars.
Does Social Security offer loans to individuals on their accumulated balances?
This is not an option that is available. It is important to remember that when money is paid into Social Security, it is pooled together into what is called the Social Security Fund. The Board generally does not refer to individual accounts with balances for each insured person. Rather, the Board regards the contributions as being placed on your record specifically for the servicing of prescribed benefits that can go well beyond your actual contributions.
Does the Social Security Age Benefit payment consider the effects of inflation?
Yes. The Age Pension is based on the insured persons three (3) best contribution years, which are usually the latest years. This method works on the premise that wages being paid at any point in time normally keeps pace with inflation. Additionally, the Social Security minimum pension is increased from time to time in consideration of inflation.
How can I obtain a history of all my employers that I have worked with?
You can make a request for such information at the Social Security Office. In order to obtain that information, you will need to present a photo identification.
How much money is my employer allowed to deduct from my wages for Social Security?
This depends on your age. If you are under the age of 16 years, or over the age of 62 years, your employer is not allowed to deduct any money from your wage for Social Security. If you are between the ages of 16 and 62 years, your employer may deduct five percent [5%] of your wages up to a given ceiling for Social Security
If a person dies before cashing a cheque, must the cheque be returned?
Yes, if an insured person dies and was in receipt of a Social Security cheque, that cheque must be returned to the Social Security Board. However, if the full amount of the cheque or any portion of it is for any period during which the payee was alive, the Board will pay the full amount or any relevant portion of it to the beneficiary or survivor of the deceased person.
If I claim benefits many times during my work life, will my Age Pension benefits be less than if I did not claim so many times?
Not at all. It is not as if your contributions go to an individual account that can be depleted every time you claim. Instead, your contributions go to your record as a contributor to the big pool of funds. Each benefit is calculated based on the number value of contribution weeks on your record along with other factors relating to the level of your earnings. Therefore, in almost all cases when you claim Social Security looks to your record and not to an account balance. It is therefore possible for persons to receive benefits that amount to more actual cash than they paid into the fund.
If my employer did not pay contributions on my behalf, do I get some of the money back when he/she is eventually forced to pay?
The answer to this question is no. The money outstanding will be paid into the fund to cover contributions owed on your behalf. These contributions will be placed on your record to assist you to qualify for future benefits.
In what cases will Social Security Office look at the “balance on my account”?
When dealing with a case for refund of contributions, Social Security will need to refer to the total amount of monies paid in ON YOUR BEHALF. This situation arises if you failed to qualify for an Age Pension.
Is the Social Security Office open on Saturdays?
No. The Offices are closed to the public on Saturday and Sunday. The Social Security Offices on both St. Kitts and Nevis are open Monday through Thursday from 8:15am to 4:30pm and Friday from 8:15am to 4:15pm.
What is the ceiling?
A limit is placed on the amount of earnings that are subject to Social Security. Hence the ceiling is the highest level of your wages that Social Security will be applicable to. It changes from time to time. At the present time the ceiling is $6,500.00 per month.
When I am receiving Sickness Benefit, can I go back to work before the period of my illness ends?
This is entirely up to you and your doctor. Please note that it is always best to follow your doctor’s advice. However, if you return to work before the end of your certified leave and you had already received benefits for the entire period, you will be required to repay any amount that you had received covering the period that you returned to work.
Why can’t I have a choice as to whether I should pay or not?
A guaranteed source of income for each person in any society is essential to the peace and security of the society. Therefore, (just like some other types of insurance, e.g. vehicle insurance) income insurance in the form of Social Security is compulsory. Income insurance is a most important mechanism that promotes the protection of the overall society by protecting each individual. We are all in this together. If income insurance were to be optional, many persons would find reasons not to participate. This would be suicidal to the society at large and would negatively affect everyone; even persons who chose to participate. Accordingly, all employed persons and their employers as well as self-employed persons are required to register with the Director of Social Security and to make contributions.
Why can’t they reduce the pension age to 45?
There are many challenges facing Social Security in the not so distant future. For example, as the fund gets older, fewer workers are supporting each beneficiary. Present contributors are aging and at the same time are not having many children of their own, while people are generally living longer, thus collecting benefits for a longer period of time. The Board will have to look at various measures to help sustain the solidarity and viability of the Fund. If the pension age were to be reduced, persons would stop paying in contributions and start claiming their pensions at an earlier age. With less money going into the fund, and more money being drawn out, the fund would soon dry up leaving beneficiaries without a guaranteed source of income.
Why can’t we get back some of the money we have paid after we have worked for a period, such as every ten years?
There are no provisions for interim refunds. Indeed it is important that the contributions being paid in are not unduly drawn out. This ensures that sufficient monies remain in the fund to pay all future legitimate claims. Remember also that Social Security does not hold individual accounts for every insured person. All contributions collected are pooled together into one fund from which benefits are paid. There is no accumulated cash value to any individual, for contributions made.
Why doesn’t Social Security pay for Sundays? Why do they deduct for Sundays?
According to International Labour Organization guidelines, a five day work week is the recommended norm. Social Security allows for an additional day to the work-week, making six as an acceptable number of days for which it would be prepared to pay benefits. It so happens that Sunday is the day that is excluded. However, persons who normally work on a Sunday do not really suffer unfair treatment since they will receive benefit for any other day of the week that may well be their normal day off. Besides, benefits are calculated as a percentage of your average weekly wages and wages earned on Sundays are included in those weekly wages.
Why don’t Spouses and Children Benefit immediately on the Death of an Insured Person?
Once qualifying conditions have been met, spouses and children do immediately benefit when an insured person dies.
Why isn’t there a Paternity Benefit in place?
According to the normal practice at this time in our society, fathers do not cease work for reasons related to the birth of their children. A ‘paternity allowance’ is therefore not an option. However, where the mother of a child does not qualify for a maternity benefit, the maternity grant can be claimed if the father qualifies based on his contribution record.