Thursday, October 4, 2012

Synching Up with Social Security

Here in Belize, if businesses or individuals hire folks for eight hours or more a week, they are responsible for paying some or all of their employees Social Security contributions, providing the employees have a Social Security number.

In our case, the previous owner of the house hired Fernando, our ace master gardener, and pre-paid his benefits until the end of this September. As we would be responsible from that point on, we made a stop at the Social Security office here in Corozal to find out what we needed to do to keep his benefits going.

The first step is to get set up with an Employer/Business Social Security Number. This will identify you or your business as the entity paying for employee benefits. After providing the representative at Social Security some basic details about us (name, address, phone, email, etc.) and info on Fernando (Social Security number, name, date of hire), they generated our Employer/Business number. Normally, this is done while you wait. However, when we first stopped by in mid-September, we were told they couldn't process our info because we wouldn't start paying until the following month. When we stopped back on October 1, we had our number in less than 15 minutes.

Every month we will submit a Statement of Contributions form (FIN 15A). It's a pretty straightforward deal. You just fill in your name/business name and ID number, address, phone, and the number of employees you have.

Then for each employee, you fill in their social security number, first/last names and either their weekly or monthly earnings. Based on the employee's earnings, you then refer to the handy chart located right on the form to determine the contribution amount:

All contributions shown in Belize Dollars
Some employers may opt to have their employee pay part of the contribution, which would be deducted from their pay, or an employer may choose to pay the full contribution. Both scenarios are shown on the above table.

Employers need to submit their contributions form and payment by the 14th of each month. This can be done in one of two ways. You can fill the form out by hand, then take it to the local Social Security office and hand in the form and payment to the cashier, who will then give you a receipt. Just as an aside, the form is two parts; an original (for the Social Security office) and a duplicate (for the Employer's records). The form is self-inking, which is a relatively new development, as you previously needed to get your hands on a piece of carbon paper to make the duplicate. Of course, finding a supplier of carbon paper here is an adventure in itself. But whatever.

The other way to submit your contribution form is to do it online. I asked one of the reps at our Social Security office to email me the form. It's an Excel spreadsheet that was created in 2008. The payment schedule attached to the form is also from that year, but the contributions table is current. The deal is you fill out the spreadsheet, then email it to an address at Social Security. You can then make your payment online if you have an account at Belize Bank or Atlantic Bank. 

While we filled the form in by hand for this first month, we plan to try the electronic submission in November. But be advised that in either submission scenario, someone at Social Security will be re-entering the data from your contributions form into their database.

So why is it important to make contributions for your employees? Well for starters, it's the law. But beyond that, the Social Security website outlines exactly what the contributions go toward for employees:

1. Sickness Benefit - Paid for a maximum of 273 days, including Sundays in any continuous period, once you are medically certified as being unable to work.  

2. Maternity Benefit - Paid to an insured woman when on maternity leave.  

3. Retirement Benefit - Payable between ages 60 to 64 if you retire from insurable employment, or at age 65 whether you retire or not.

4. Invalidity Benefit - Paid to an insured contributor who has been medically certified by a Medical Board appointed by Social Security, to be unable to work due to a specific disease which is likely to be permanent, and who has been sick for not less than 13 consecutive weeks immediately before the week in which the benefit is claimed. 

5. Survivors Benefit - Paid upon death by natural cause of an insured contributor. 

6. Funeral Grant  (for death by natural cause) - Paid in the event of the death of an insured contributor or his/her spouse or children, on presentation of the documents required.

7. Injury Benefit - This benefit is payable to insured contributors who are injured on the job or develop PRESCRIBED DISEASES as per the Third Schedule of the Social Security Act.  

8. Medical Care - If you receive an employment injury (work-related accident or prescribed disease), full medical care is paid for by Social Security provided that prior approval is obtained from Social Security.  

9. Disablement Benefit - If you are injured on the job or develop a disease and subsequently you are assessed by a Medical Board at 25% disabled or more, you may qualify for a Disablement Pension.  

10. Constant Attendance Allowance - If you require the assistance of someone to attend to your daily care because you have been assessed to be 100% disabled as a result of an Employment Injury, by a medical board, your Disablement Pension will be increased by 25%; this extra benefit is called Constant Attendance Allowance.

11. Funeral Grant (for death caused by employment injury) - This Benefit is payable to the spouse or person bearing the expenses of the funeral of the deceased insured contributor, who died as a result of an employment injury. 

12. Death Benefit (benefit for survivors) - This pension benefit is paid to survivors of a deceased insured contributor who died as a result of Employment Injury (work-related accident or prescribed disease).

For more information, visit the "Employers" section of the Belize Social Security website.

Belize Social Security Board Logo

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I'm enjoying your blog very much, especially since I hail from just done I-26 from your old digs. I'm in Moore, SC (really part of Spartanburg). Love the Apple Festival you have in Hendersonville.

    Thanks for the good work on your blog. I met Dave Rider when we stayed in Corozal for 12 days back at Christmas 2009/2010. We actually stayed at Corozal Bay Resort (with Doug and Maria) and could tell things were heading south. At that time the bar and pool were open and in good shape and we even ate there once. Mostly went into town or at Tony's Y-Not bar.

    We had a great time and hope to return someday... keep up the great work on this blog and with the Winjama Blog we can get our daily fix on Belize.

    If you haven't gone there yet (I'm reading the old to the new posts) I can't wait til you take the drive to Sarteneja! We had a great time with the ferries and the road --- what an adventure!

    Julian Foster