The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) has claimed it’s now reached halfway through honouring a staggering backlog of claims, which has been long choking the social security safety net.
“I can tell you that we are halfway,” said chairman of the National Insurance Board (NIB), Ian Gooding-Edghill, who revealed that the NIS has cleared 50 per cent of the 26,000 backlogged cases, some dating as far back as 2014.
He said: “We inherited a board when we took office that had in excess of 26,000 claims outstanding.
“What I set out to do as chairman of the board was to ensure that we put in place a programme to reduce the claims backlog and thanks to the NIS staff, we have done a very good job in reducing those claims.”
The NIB chairman was responding to queries regarding the still inordinate length of time it was taking for claims to be processed, even though he ran on a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) ticket that promised changes in the way the NIS does business.
He added: “These are claims that go as far back as 2014. So you had a situation where people were not paid funeral grants for a
very long time and other situations where people didn’t receive their unemployment benefits.
“I am confident that with the ongoing programme the board has put in place, we are going to be in a position to eliminate all of those outstanding matters.”
But Gooding-Edghill pointed out that backlogs alone do not account for the continued slow pace of claims processing, as the NIS continues to be held up by documentation from some employers.
He said: “We still have some issues with the employment injury benefit, and this is still a challenge.
“When an insured person submits an application for an employment-related injury, it is the responsibility of the employer to submit the ER1 form to facilitate the process of the claims.
“We have been experiencing some delays in getting out those claims, but we are working on that.”
The chairman also sought to dispel any notion that the NIS being is strapped for cash, stating categorically that the fund has more than enough money to settle all claims.
Gooding-Edghill continued: “We have a lot of cash in the fund, so it is not a situation where we can’t afford to pay.
“I know that national insurance is like a hot potato for some people, who would give the impression that we don’t have funds, but we have a substantial amount of money and we are processing and paying the claims.
“I know what it is like for a person who is not employed to not have money and I have made the point to management to make sure that we put these systems in place.
“I am confident that we are going to eliminate this backlog and remain current.” firstname.lastname@example.org