Laurette Korkor Otchere, the Deputy Director-General of Operations and Benefits at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has disclosed that as of November this month, the Trust withheld the pensions of about 24,333 pensioners, amounting to GH¢186.58million.
The Deputy Director-General made the revelation at a three-day operations conference in Koforidua.
She indicated that the affected individuals are those people who have not re-enrolled biometrically or not completed/renewed their Pensioner Certificates, and thus have been deleted from the pension payroll since the exercise started in 2018.
“41,508 names of pensioners who had not re-enrolled biometrically or had not completed/renewed their Pensioner Certificates have been deleted from the pension payroll since the exercise started in 2018. Out of 41,508 names of pensioners whose pensions were withheld, a total of 17,175 have been reactivated” she said.
According to Laurette Korkor Otchere, the deactivation exercise is a mechanism put in place by the Trust to ensure that pension is paid to only retirees who are alive.
However, in cases where an account is deactivated, the Trust will reactivate such account when the pensioner renews his/her certificates.
The pensioner certificates are issued to pensioners aged 72 who retired under PNDCL 247 and 75 years for those who retired under Act 766, and are renewed annually.
Since 2018, the Trust has on a monthly basis been deleting the names of pensioners aged 72 and above who failed to complete or renew their Pensioner Certificates. This was however halted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Deputy Director-General announced that the Trust has finalised an arrangement with the Ghana Revenue Authority to share data (PAYE records), which is likely to lead to an increase in the number of workers being insured to receive a pension from SSNIT. This is also expected to help ensure employers pay the right contributions for their workers to receive commensurate pensions.
As of September, this year, 2021, over GH¢230million remains outstanding in debt by the private sector to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) due to defaults, according to the Trust. About 7,951 criminal cases remain pending in court against employers for various offences: including failure to register establishments or workers; failure to submit Contribution Reports or employers’ records; and failure to pay contributions and associated penalties.
Last year, 2020, the Trust spent in excess of GH¢3.3billion in benefits payments; and as of 2021 quarter three, it had paid over GH¢2.7billion to the about-220,000 pensioners on its pension payroll.
According to the Trust, a total of GH¢1.8billion has been made in benefits payments to pensioners during the first half of 2021; representing an 8.17% increase in benefits paid compared to the 2020 figure of GH¢1.66billion.
The Trust paid GH¢1.58billion as pensions and GH¢8.81million to invalid pensioners, whereas total lump-sum payments were about GH¢214.29million. These were made up of payments to survivors, old-age members of the scheme, refunds and emigrants.
Invalidity Pension Payments Increase
The number of persons under the Trust’s invalidity pension payroll increased by 13.68% in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020; and in the case of old-age pensions, the payroll increased by 4.92% in 2021 compared to the same period last year. The invalidity pension is a monthly cash benefit paid to members of the scheme who can no longer work due to a disease, an illness, or disablement of a permanent nature.
The invalidity pensions arrangement is for those who had contributed for at least 12 months within 36 months before the sickness or accident occurred, and have been certified by a medical board as not being able to work again; hence they are eligible to enjoy the benefit from SSNIT, and they will be paid for the rest of their lives unless they recover at some point.