KNOW YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY: The Caricom Reciprocal Agreement and you

Commencing April 1, 1997, persons within Caricom became eligible to receive benefits under the Caricom Reciprocal Agreement. The agreement, which facilitates free movement, seeks to ensure that persons who choose to take advantage of said agreement do not lose any Social Security contributions which would have been paid prior to, or after relocation to another territory.

It should be noted though, that for the purposes of Social Security, the Caricom Reciprocal Agreement provides the following benefits to contributors within Caricom: Old Age or Retirement Pension, Survivors’ Pension, Disablement Pension, Invalidity Pension and Death benefits. To date, there are roughly 20 persons in receipt of a pension benefit under the Caricom Reciprocal Agreement from the Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board (ABSSB).

Therefore, persons who have attained the current pensionable age of 60 in Antigua & Barbuda should be mindful that during the interview process of pension application with an ABSSB representative, any and all Caricom territories in which work occurred should be provided.  Social Security Systems within Caricom share relevant contribution information upon request, to ensure that all contributions paid are properly allocated for the purpose of paying Social Security benefits in keeping with the Caricom Reciprocal Agreement.

For those persons who are not currently of pensionable age and intend to take advantage of the freedom of movement, please ensure that you understand the steps necessary to gain a Caricom skilled certificate and the requisite entity that is responsible for verifying qualifications and issuing skilled certificates in the relocation territory, as the verifying entity differs throughout Caricom.

A release dated January 23, 2012, out of the Caricom headquarters in Guyana, indicated that there was a 64 per cent overall level of compliance, across the five core regimes of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) — the Free Movement of Skills, the Free Movement of Goods, the Free Movement of Services, the Movement of Capital and the Right of Establishment.

The Caricom Trade and Competitiveness Project (CTCP) facilitated studies over the past three years to gauge the effectiveness of the CSME, and the findings revealed that the major deficiencies were in respect to “the Freedom of Movement of Services and the regime on the Right of Establishment.” (CSME Unit web site) Notably, the highest compliance rates occur with the Free Movement of Goods, which has an 80 per cent compliance rate and the Movement of Capital, having a 72 per cent compliance rate. The Movement of Skills however, was recorded as having a 66 per cent compliance rate.

The 13 member states actively participating in the CSME are: Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Trinidad & Tobago.

For more information on the CSME please visit http://www.caricom.org or http://www.csmeunitonline.org.

For further questions on this topic, or if there is a particular aspect of Social Security that you would like discussed be it from a local, regional or international perspective, please contact the Social Security office at:

Know Your Social Security

Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board

PO Box 1125

St. John’s, Antigua

or email us at: res.comm@socialsecurity.gov.ag.

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