Repairing the pension-gap: allowance is available

POSTED: 01/16/13 1:09 PM

St. Maarten – Pensioners who do not enjoy full pension benefits are entitled to either an allowance by means of pension or onderstand by means of pension. Claire Elshot, vice president if the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions said Yesterday at a press conference that pensioners who find themselves in this situation and who have not claimed these rights, ought to get in touch with the union for more information.

Elshot said that membership of the pension funds only became obligatory in 1998. Civil servants and private sector workers who have years of service before that moment and who did not voluntarily joined the pension fund will miss out on a part of their pension. Pension rights are built up at a pace of 2.5 percent during the first 20 years, and 2 percent during the next 10 years, giving retirees a 70 percent pension of their last earned salary.

But employees who have not contributed enough years, and who have not made use of the option to “buy back” missing years, will be left with a pension gap that could in some cases be as large as 26 percent.

To repair that injustice, the regulation for allowances and understand by means of pension was established, but quite some pensioners are not aware of this.

“The allowance entitles pensioners to 75 percent of what they would have gotten if they had been registered at the pension fund for a sufficient number of years,” Elshot said. “It is regrettable that a number of pensioners who have asked for this allowance were turned down. That is not possible; they should not have been turned down. Based on what?”

Elshot appealed to pensioners who have questions about this issue to call 581 83 43 for information.

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