Government is not in a financial position to continue paying both National Insurance disability and pension benefits from the Treasury.
But Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn has promised a new social security arrangement to prevent future pensioners from falling below the poverty line.
On Monday, Straughn announced yet another delay for compensation to pensioners who, since May have seen their monthly incomes slashed due to Government’s pension reform.
Speaking on Starcom Network’s Down to Brass Tacks programme on Monday afternoon, Straughn promised the monies would be paid retroactively sometime in August, following a recent promise by Social Security Minister Colin Jordan that the change would be made by the end of July.
“The present circumstance needs to be resolved as quickly as possible and I can assure those persons that it will be rectified and it is unfortunate that we have not been able to complete it by the end of July,” admitted Straughn.
“But they can be assured that as soon as possible in August, we will have the matter rectified for those persons who would have been receiving the invalidity benefits.”
He explained: “The process of abatement as it is called happens naturally when one reaches their retirement age between the NIS payments and any pension benefits you receive from your employer.
“The issue here comes about when people may have been receiving their invalidity benefits, which is a pension, in addition to the pension from their employer. Having formed an expectation and their lives around that, the issue is not whether it was a mistake, but that greater clarity was not being brought to the process.”
Nevertheless, Straughn indicated that Government was moving full steam ahead with a plan to reform the pension system and prevent the payment of double pensions from the employers (in this case Government) and the NIS.
Unlike the situation that crippled the finances of victims of Government’s ongoing pension reform, Straughn has promised the new system will take the relevant deficiencies into account.
“We are intending to make sure there is a minimum income for households so that persons can live in the country quite comfortably.
“It is something we are working on in terms of pension reform in Government, because going forward; we have to make sure that whatever pensions persons receive they can live on with respect to the provision of social security benefits,” he said.
The Minister in the Ministry of Finance also responded to queries about an apparent lack of knowledge by employees at the treasury about the changes.
“We had meetings with both the treasury and the National Insurance to enhance the communication because typically, with respect to those persons who have been deemed medically unfit, it is in a sense a special type of early retirement and therefore the communication that ought to happen naturally between NIS and Treasury doesn’t happen in as timely a manner as would be the case in a normal retirement.
“It isn’t that it’s a mistake, but that some of the information may not be as timely, so we are working to ensure the system works on both sides with respect to Government,” said Straughn. [email protected]