Honorary discharge letters to teachers lagging behind

POSTED: 03/27/13 12:29 PM

St. Maarten – The honorary discharge letter that is given to teachers as a form of social protection for the transition into pension is not being prepared on time. The Windward Islands Teachers Union has reached this conclusion after several complaints from teachers that upon reaching age 60, their finances are stalled because they are no longer earning an income, but the absence of the letter makes it difficult for them to receive their pensions.

“It was brought to our attention that upon reaching the age 60 you are entitled to an honorary discharge letter this is the letter that would then have to be submitted to the SZV for the part of the AOV and the APS for the part of the general pension.

We are now experiencing that the lack of this letter is creating a gap between people’s income because the fact that if you turn 60 your salary would then be put to stop but if you do not have that letter to submit to the entities, then your pension cannot start.

That is creating a problem for a number of persons who have reached the age 60. It was brought to our attention by several people. They do not comprehend and understand why this letter of honorary discharge has to take so long. Why is it not ready and put there in the person’s file in advance?   Even if that person continues to work on a contract this does not interfere with the process of claiming their pension rights or their monies,” union president Claire Elshot explained at yesterday’s weekly press briefing.

She stated that the union was therefore looking into the matter because persons who are on pension still have monthly bills but are being affected socially and economically.

“It is happening too often and then it brings about an imbalance in the social life of a person or a teacher that has contributed, worked the amount of years and now that they are going into pension they would have to face the frustration of lack of an income for the months when you are getting the transition from the world of work to world of pension, even though three months after if the pension fund honor you your pension, they would do it retroactively.”

Elshot also revealed that a committee has been installed to examine the effects and arrangements that would be put in place should the pension age increase from 60 to 62, as mentioned by the government.

The petite committee currently has Elshot representing Witu and Denicio Connor representing Wicsu. However other members of the committee still need to be selected from various unions before it meets.

“A lot of the persons will be contributing like two years extra without being able to have any positive financial change to their pension and we feel this is not right,” Elshot commented.

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