House Approves Increases in NIS Benefits


The House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 13 approved the National Insurance (Increase in Benefits) Order 2010, and the National Insurance (Increase in Benefits) Resolution 2010, to validate the increase in National Insurance Scheme (NIS) benefits, which became effective on July 1.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, said that the increases would provide further benefits to 115,000 persons and would “go a far way in improving the standard of living of NIS beneficiaries, who have contributed to the development of this country in their various fields of endeavour.”
He said that the annual cost of providing these benefits would move from $9 billion to $10.4 billion.
The increases in pensions and allowances, which have been granted include: Old Age (up from $2,000 weekly to $2,400); Invalidity (up from $1,500 to $1,800); and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension (up from $1,000 weekly to $1,200). The Orphan’s and Special Child Allowance, which is payable to the guardian of children below the age of 18 years, whose parents have died and had contributed to the NIS, has been increased from $3,500 per week, to $4,200.
Meanwhile, Employment Injury and Disablement Pension, which ranged from, $250-$2,500 depending on the nature of the injury, now ranges from $320 to $3,200 per week. The Special Anniversary pension has moved from $1,000 per week to $1,200. This is payable to persons born before January 1908, and who did not have an opportunity to contribute to the NIS, but qualify for a benefit. Sugar workers’ pension is now $1,200 per week, while maternity allowance has been indexed to the National Minimum wage of $4,070 per week.
As it relates to grants, the amount awarded for funerals has been increased from $60,000 to $70,000; Old Age from $30,000 to $40,000; Invalidity from $30,000 to $40,000; and Widow’s/Widower’s from $30,000 to $40,000. Orphans and Special Child Grant has moved from $40,000 to $48,000, while Employment Injury Death Benefit has been boosted to $166,400 from $150,000. Benefits payable under the NIS Pensioners’ health plan, NIGOLD, were also increased with effect from July 1, ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. Benefits for prescription drugs moved from $4,000 to $5,000 annually, diagnostic services went up to $4,000 from $3,000, and dental and optical increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Provisions for the other benefits under NIGOLD such as surgery, hospitalisation and doctor’s visit remain unchanged.
Minister Charles informed that with the increases, the cost of providing health benefits under NIGOLD will move from $307 million to $500 million.
He added that policies and programmes must be kept under constant review to ensure that they remain responsive and relevant to social needs.
As at May 31, 2010, the National Insurance Fund’s net asset value stood at $62.3 billion.

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