More than 9,000 unverified pensions that were suspended by the previous administration were recently resumed, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Myles LaRoda said yesterday.
LaRoda, who has ministerial responsibility for the National Insurance Board (NIB), made the comments before a tour of NIB’s Baillou Hill Road headquarters.
“There was just under 10,000,” he told reporters.
“Last week Tuesday, I was advised that all but 850 had been reinstated and the managing director said that the full complement are now reinstated. So, I think October 19 would be the next payment.”
LaRoda said he made his “displeasure” about the suspension known.
Pensioners and others receiving NIB benefits are required to verify twice a year, meaning, they are to confirm that they are still alive, and their employment conditions have not changed.
Prior to the pandemic, they needed to physically go in to NIB to verify, but during the pandemic, they may do so through a pastor, a justice of the peace or any other identified individual.
Former minister with responsibility for NIB, Brensil Rolle, said verification was suspended most of last year.
The process resumed this year, but many people still did not verify.
“We announced in December of last year that the process will begin between March and July of this year, and we identified the groups that should come in in March and most of the seniors were to come in in July because verification is required for a number of benefits, not just pension,” Rolle said.
Roughly 40,000 people collect pensions from NIB each month.
In the Speech from the Throne, which was delivered by the governor general last week, the government promised to increase senior citizens’ pension.
No additional information was provided.
Yesterday, when asked how the Davis administration plans to achieve this, LaRoda replied, “I can’t give specifics on what it is going to be increased to. But the prime minister had made it abundantly clear that notwithstanding some of the fiscal deficits that are going on, those at the economic bottom of the scales suffer the most.
“Traditionally, those have been the more fervent supporters of the Progressive Liberal Party. But politics aside, we are our brothers’ keepers, in particular, those who are the most vulnerable. We have an obligation to try and lessen their pain even though it might come at a fiscal price.”
He was unable to provide a timeline for the increase.
However, LaRoda indicated that it is a priority for the government.