Social Security is a public measure or programme to provide income protection for its members in the event of certain occurrences as Old Age, Invalidity, sickness or Death of a breadwinner. It is also a State assistance to those lacking in economic security and welfare.
The main form of benefit provided under a social security package is therefore money or healthcare to the beneficiaries. The money or the income is to assist the beneficiary who as a result of total disability or sickness or old age cannot continue to work to earn a living.
It is also important to note that social security replaces only part of a beneficiary’s earning prior to the occurrence of the event. Social security is only a form of assistance and it cannot provide for the total income needs of a person who has suffered a loss of income due to any of the contingencies under social security.
Social security is so important that it is considered essential for society to ensure that its members have it. Because of the pressure to provide for our immediate needs such as food, clothing and shelter very few people will under normal circumstance plan to set aside money to take care of future health bills and provision for old age.
However, the uncertainity of the future is real. In the face of this reality, society and governments the world over recognize the need to institute a public programme to ensure that citizens provide for their future income needs. In the absence of social security, citizens who suffer loss of income face severe hardships, and some become an embarrassment and nuisance to the society. The active involvement of society and specifically government in the provision of social security ensure that vulnerable groups are adequately covered in any social security arrangement.
There are three major Social Security Schemes and all have their qualifying conditions.
a) In a Welfare Scheme where the state provides income out of general taxation , people have to show or prove that they need support from the state to survive. A welfare scheme normally provides for the vulnerable groups.
b) In a contributory social insurance scheme, contributors have a right to benefit by the mere fact that they are contributors and they satisfy the qualifying conditions. The members are paid benefits out of a pool of funds they have contributed to.
c) A non-contributory scheme under which citizens may be entitled to income protection as a result of certain occurrences in life.
In addition to these three schemes which are primary and national in scope, there are supplementary retirement income schemes operated by employers for their staff. It may be totally or partially funded by the employer. Such employer-assisted schemes are industry or employment specific and the schemes have their own qualifying criteria.
The benefits provided under employer-assisted schemes are exclusively for persons in that industry or employment. An example of such an employer-assisted scheme is the Pension Scheme provided for some pensionable officers in the public service normally referred to as CAP 30.
Thirdly, Insurance companies and some private fund managers provide private pension schemes. Under the private pension arrangements, an individual contributes to a private pension fund which will give him a benefit under specified condition.
The providers of social security in Ghana are:
a) The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) which operates a contributory social insurance scheme for its members. Membership of the scheme cuts across workers from the public and private sectors and self-employed persons.
b) Government as an employer provides pension for members of the security agencies, judges and some pensionable officers in the public service.
c) Additionally, some employers have supplementary retirement income schemes for their employees. Employees in such organizations therefore draw their primary or basic social security benefit from SSNIT and additional retirement income from the employer assisted schemes.
d) There are also some insurance companies which offer personal pension schemes to individuals. The personal pension schemes are fully funded and managed privately.
It is a social insurance scheme under which members contribute monthly or periodically and receive a benefit as and when they qualify. The scheme is therefore contributory.
Benefits provided under the SSNIT Pension Scheme are:
· Superannuation Pension/ Old age Pension
· Invalidity Pension.
· Survivor’s Lump sum.
· Emigration benefit.
SSNIT has a primary duty to collect contributions to pay pensions and other benefits as they fall due. In carrying out this primary responsibility the Trust undertakes the following specific duties:
· Register all employers and issue them with unique Establishment Registration (ER) numbers.
· Register all members and issue them with individual unique Social Security number and a Smart Card.
· Collect contributions of members and compile relevant data related to the contributions.
· Maintain and update personal and financial records on members.
· Process benefits for members as they fall due.
· Manage and invest the social security funds.
Every one can be a member. It is mandatory for employers to ensure that all workers in their employment are registered. Even if an organization employs one worker, that worker should be registered and contributions paid on his behalf. The only exceptions are:
· Lecturers in the universities
· Personnel in security institutions
Self-employed persons can also join the scheme as voluntary contributors.
It is a card that identifies one as a member of the SSNIT Scheme. It has the following information about the member;
Surface (Name, Date of birth, photograph, SSNO, Gender)
Chip (Name, Date of birth, photograph, two finger prints, Gender)
No! The Social Security number is not transferable and shall be used by ONLY the member throughout his/her transactions with SSNIT. The member is also required to take good care and protect the SSNIT smart card.
The scheme is self-financing through the contributions of members and returns on the investments of the funds. The new SSNIT Scheme (Act 766) is now referred to as the Basic National Pension Scheme (or Tier-1 Pension Fund). It is a Defined-Benefit, partially funded scheme and uses a scaled-premium method of financing. It is financed through the combined contributions of the employees and employers as well as investment income.
A significant portion of the benefits are derived from investment income.
Until 1991 SSNIT operated a Provident Fund which was more of a savings scheme and interest was therefore paid on the accumulated contributions of a member. However, the current scheme is a pension scheme and it operates on the principles of insurance. In insurance, what is important is for a member to make a minimum contribution and meet the qualifying conditions and be entitled to a benefit. For instance, a member who has contributed continuously for the last 12 months and has been a member of the scheme for three years will be paid a life long invalidity pension in the event of him becoming invalid.
Similarly, a member contributes 17.5% of his salary for a minimum of 20 years aggregate but will be entitled to 50% of his best three years salary till his death. Under the survivors benefit the nominees of a deceased member who contributed for even one month could be entitled to 12 years pension. These benefits are clearly more than what an interest can provide.
No. A member cannot withdraw part of his contribution because again it is not a saving scheme. The contributions have to be made over a period of time and invested to enable the scheme pay out the benefits guaranteed under the scheme. In effect if part of the accumulated contributions is withdrawn, the assets of the scheme will be reduced and it will be impossible to provide the benefits promised.
a) Do you have to inform SSNIT if you change your name?
Yes. Any member who changes his or her name should contact the nearest SSNIT Branch Office for the change to be effected on his personal records at SSNIT.
b) Do you have to inform SSNIT when you change your address?
Yes. If you change your address please inform the nearest SSNIT Branch Office for the change to be effected on your personal records.
c) Can you change your date of birth with SSNIT?
No. This is because dates of births do not change. However, if there is evidence of a genuine error in capturing a date of birth, a change could be effected.
d) What is social security nomination?
Social Security nomination is a process whereby a member indicates to SSNIT how his social security entitlements should be distributed on or after his death. Nominations made can be changed if a member so desires. However, any change made on a Member’s Update Form should be in the custody of SSNIT before the member’s death.
e) What happens if a member fails to make a nomination before his death?
His dependants may apply to the court for the interstate succession law to be applied for the distribution of his social security benefits.
f) How often can a member change his beneficiaries?
As often as possible.
g) How can I update my personal records?
You can update your personal records – change of name, change of address, social security nomination by filling a Membership Update Form which is available at any SSNIT Branch Office.
The form should be endorsed by an employer and/or a some public servant and returned to SSNIT for the update to be done. Update form not in the custody of SSNIT is not valid for use by SSNIT.
i) What are the benefits under the SSNIT Pension Scheme?
The Benefits are:
. Superannuation Pension/ Old age Pension
· Invalidity Pension.
· Survivor’s Lump sum.
· Emigration benefit.
ii)What are the Qualifying Conditions of the Benefits?
(a) Full Pension
To qualify for a Full Pension,
– You must be 60 years and
– You must have made a minimum contribution of 180 months in aggregate.
(b) Reduced Pension
To qualify for a Reduced Pension,
* You must be 55 and above but below 60 years of age and
* You must have made a minimum contribution of 180 months in aggregate.
(c) Basis for Calculation of Old Age Pension
The following factors are taken into consideration:
ii) Average of your three (3) Best Years Salaries
iii) Earned Pension Right – Number of months you have contributed to the scheme
You can earn a pension right between 37.5% and 60% depending on the number of months contributed at the time of retirement. A minimum contribution of 180 months gives a pension right of 37.5% and every additional month attracts an additional percentage of 0.09375%.
(d) To Calculate Your Pension
Multiply the average of your best three (3) years salaries by your pension credit earned.
For early retirement from ages 55 to 59 an applicant will receive a reduced pension as follows:
(e) Return of Contributions
Where you have not made the minimum contribution period of 240 months but have qualified by age, you will be entitled to a lump sum payment of your total contribution with interest.
(f) How to Apply For Benefit
iii) How long will your Pension Payment Last?
iv) What are the qualifying conditions for Invalidity Pension?
(a) To qualify for invalidity Pension
· You must have made a minimum contribution of 12 months within the last 36 months and
· You must have been declared permanently invalid and incapable of any normal gainful employment:
By a qualified and recognized medical officer and
Certified by a Medical Board
(b) How to Apply For Invalidity Pension
· Report to the nearest SSNIT Branch with a Medical report from a recognized Medical Practitioner certifying your incapacitation.
· You will be made to appear before a Medical Board for examination.
· Where the Medical Board confirms your incapacitation, you will obtain Social Security Application Forms from the Branch Office.
· Complete the forms and attach three (3) recent passport size photographs.
· Where applicable, let your employer endorse the forms.
· Submit your completed forms and photographs to the SSNIT Branch Office as early as possible.
· SSNIT will advise you to collect your monthly pension at a bank of your choice after processing the claim.
(c) Calculation of Invalidity Pension
After you have been certified invalid you will be entitled to a pension as follows:
· If you have made the minimum contribution of 180 months or more, you will be entitled to your earned pension.
· If you have not made the minimum contribution period, you will receive a pension based on a pension right of 37.5% of the average of your best three years salary.
v) When is the survivors’ benefit paid?
This benefit is paid to dependants of members under the following conditions:
· When the member dies before retirement.
· When the member, while a pensioner, dies before attaining age 75.
(a) Calculation of Survivors’ Benefit
This benefit is computed as follows:
· Where a member dies having satisfied the minimum contribution period of 180 months, in aggregate, a lump sum payment of the earned pension of the deceased member for a period of 12 years will be made at the present value using the prevailing Treasury Bill Rate as discount factor.
· Where a member dies prior to satisfying the minimum contribution period of 180 months, in aggregate, 37.5% of the average of the best 3 years salary pension for the next 12 years will be paid at the present value based on the prevailing Treasury Bill Rate as discount factor.
· Where a pensioner dies before attaining age 75, a one time payment based on the present value of his unexpired but not exceeding 12 years pension will be made to his beneficiaries.
(b) How to Apply for Survivors’ Benefit
Report the death of a member to the nearest SSNIT Branch Office with any two of the following evidences of Death including a letter from the employer.
i) Death Certificate
iii) Burial Permit
iv) Medical Certificate
v) Letter from Employer where available
vi) Funeral programme
vii) Affidavit from Chief of Village or Town
On receiving information of the death of a member, SSNIT will request the nominated dependant(s) to apply for the benefit.
A dependant(s) may call at SSNIT Branch Office to collect, complete and submit an Application Form to which he will attach the following:
The compulsory pensionable age of 60 years was determined based on the country’s life expectancy. Currently, life expectancy at birth is 58 years and the trend indicates that it is increasing. Therefore medically there is no justification for reduction in the retiring age.
Financially, a reduction in the compulsory retirement age is costly. The financial calculation of the scheme was based on 60 years. As a result, any reduction in the number of years to qualify for a benefit will increase the amount of money needed to fund the benefits. For instance at 20% interest rate, a reduction in 5 years will increase the cost of benefit three times. So, if at the current compulsory age it cost ¢3 billion, it will cost ¢9 billion to pay the same benefit over a specified period.
The SSNIT scheme is earnings related and generally members with higher salaries receive higher pensions or benefits for the dependants in the event of death of a deceased member. It is also important to note that a pension is a replacement of part of an income and therefore cannot be more than an income a member earned prior to retirement. Additionally, the SSNIT scheme has an inherent mechanism for reviewing pensions every year.
You do not need a Lawyer to claim a social security benefit. However, for the survivor’s benefit, where a deceased member did not provide for his spouse and children they may apply to the court for consideration for the distribution of his social security benefits in which case such interested parties may engage the services of a Lawyer at the court.