As an insured person between the ages of 16 and 62 years, for any period that you are temporarily unemployed, or for certain periods when you are out of the Federation, you can choose to pay voluntary contributions. In this way, your contribution record continues to grow thus enhancing your long term benefits.
• Persons who are working abroad for over 12 months for an employer who is still fully based in the Federation
• Persons who are emigrating temporarily for any other
• Persons who are temporarily out of employment for any reason
• Seasonal workers who lose the opportunity to work for a certain period or periods in any year because of the nature of their field of employment. And this could be for employees and self employed persons
• Persons who retire early from their employment. There are many cases of civil servants and other such early retirees who still have some years to go before becoming 62 years of age. They can opt to pay voluntary contributions. This would enable them to increase the percentage rating of their Social Security pension, even though they would have already qualified for the pension
• Persons who interrupt their work life to pursue studies. During the period of study, you can pay voluntary contributions to maintain the growth of your contribution record thus enhancing your ultimate pension
If you find yourself in any of the situations outlined, you can make application to the Social Security Board for a Certificate of Voluntary Insurance.
It is important to note that short term benefits are not available to you during the time of voluntary contributions. Voluntary contributions are meant to assist you in enhancing your pension entitlements.
One of the main conditions under which voluntary contributions are payable is the condition of not being in employment under the jurisdiction of the Federation. If you are not in employment there is no possibility of becoming entitled to the short term benefits, since such benefits are compensations for loss of earnings due to incapacity. In other words to receive a short term benefit you would have had to be working one day and then become incapacitated the next to be able claim the benefit. This situation does not present itself if you are a voluntarily insured person. This type of person is already out of work for some other reason other than the reasons of incapacity such as sickness or maternity.
As a voluntarily insured person (or a person who is paying voluntary contributions at a time when you are not obliged to do so) you do not have to pay the same full rate of contribution that is payable on behalf of someone who is working. While the full contribution for a regular working person is at the rate of 11% percent, the voluntary contributions payable by someone who is not working is at the rate of 5% percent only. Remember the regular working person’s contribution is made up of 5% percent from the employee and 6% percent from his or her employer. In other words as a voluntary contributor you would only be paying the usual employee portion of a full contribution. This portion (5% percent) will only be allotted to cater to your long term benefit enhancement as we said earlier.
If you ever apply for and obtain a Certificate of Voluntary Insurance, the Social Security Office will calculate the specific amount to be paid by you. This would be based on certain specific factors.
In order for you to be eligible to pay Voluntary Contributions, you must have at least 104 contribution weeks on your record. At the point where you apply for a Certificate of Voluntary Insurance, Social Security will trace back the period of two years or 104 weeks immediately before the time you stopped working, or the time when you ceased to be eligible to pay regular contributions. Your total wages earned during that period will be added and then divided by two to provide what is called the average annual wages.
By computing 5% percent of the Average Annual Wages, Social Security will arrive at a figure that represents your rate of contributions per annum. When this rate of contributions per annum is divided by 52, the resulting figure or amount is your weekly rate of contributions.
If you cease to be liable for contributions in any of the scenarios that give rise to being eligible to pay Voluntary Contributions, and you wish to pay Voluntary Contributions, you will need to apply for the Certificate within thirteen weeks after you last normal contribution. This is a specification of the law. If you allow that 13 weeks to pass, you would not under normal circumstances be allowed to pay Voluntary Contributions. It is important to be always on the alert and state your intentions early to get on board with Voluntary Contributions.