Elshot: “Deductions doesn’t mean you are registered with APS”

POSTED: 11/21/14 11:43 AM

St. Maarten—New civil servants, in particular teachers, are being cautioned to take the time to properly register with the pension fund, said head of the Windward Islands Teachers Union Claire Elshot.

According to Elshot, many times these new employees do not realize that monies being deducted from their salaries on a monthly basis for pension and SZV does not mean that they are automatically registered with these entities. She urges them to take the time to register, which must include a medical examination being performed. For this she advises the civil servants to contact their Personnel Department to find out who are the doctors they must see for this purpose.

“I have come across some civil servants, including teachers, who have been working in the service for one or two years and who never registered with the pension fund. They just assumed that because the payments are being made, they are automatically members of the fund. She explained that when the process of registration is complete persons receive a “stamboom”—a registration number, which is the one they will have for as long as they are members of the fund and the number that will be used when the time comes to pay their pensions. “Make sure you cross your t’s and dot you I’s because it’s in your interest,” Elshot said.

On the subject of pensions she informed members of the media that Witu is hoping that the new Parliament will enact laws or amend the current law to make it possible for the retirement age to go up to 62 as opposed to the current 60, to allow workers more time to build on their pensions. She explained that in many cases the persons who are at retirement age are not financially equipped for the major drop in income that comes with retirement because they have not been paying into the fund for thirty years.

The union boss noted that one of the issues that make early retirement unattractive to many is that a lot of young persons do not start thinking of retirement but instead put it off until they are at times well into their fifties. According to Elshot, while she is in favor of the current two year increase in the compulsory retirement age, she does not favor the continuous increase to retirement age. She added that the discussion on retirement age is a very deep and complex issue that must be viewed from all angles.

Continuous increases to the compulsory retirement age means that persons remain in positions longer, making it more difficult for young graduates to find positions. It is also counterproductive in getting persons to start planning for their futures earlier. This scenario does not apply however in all cases as Elshot pointed out. She said one of the reasons why there are many teachers who are at retirement age and still working is because there are not enough new teachers locally to take up these positions. In these cases the teachers are usually given a two year contract to continue work. She advised these persons to provide a copy of their contracts to the pension fund offices to ensure that they are in fact still building on their pension.



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