Business

Three years and counting to receive government pension

TELL Claudienne

with Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, January 14, 2018

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Dear Claudienne,

I now live in Canada, but before migrating I worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education (MOE), and applied for early retirement benefits in 2015.

From 1981 to 1987 I worked with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) as an extension officer.

From 1988 to 1992 I was a teacher, and from 1992 to 2005 I was a lecturer at CAST, now UTech.

After applying to the MOE for early retirement, I came to Jamaica in March 2015, obtained my service records from the MOA, and took them to the MOE. At the MOE I was told that they had already requested my service records from UTech, so it wasn't necessary for me to go and get them.

After several months of following up with the MOE, I was told that they were still awaiting my salary information from UTech, the last institution where I had worked. Since it seemed that nothing was happening, I wrote a letter dated January 4, 2016 to the President of UTech. I explained my situation and expressed my disappointment with respect to the poor service the college provided to their past employees.

I received a reply dated February 18, 2016 from the Acting Senior Director of Human Resources, stating that he had been given the letter to deal with the matter. After several weeks, I made many telephone calls to UTech but nothing had changed, as they told me that they were still trying to get the information the MOE had requested.

I came back to Jamaica for the second time in March 2016 and went to UTech.

For two days I sat and waited at UTech for the information the MOE had requested, and when I finally got it I took it to the ministry.

When I called the MOE in December 2016 I was told that my file had been sent to the Pensions Unit of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on the 24th of November, 2016, and that it would be processed in approximately eight weeks.

I called the MOF several times but never got beyond the receptionist. In March 2017 I made another trip to Jamaica, went to the MOF on March 14, and spoke to a clerk in the Pension Benefits Unit. She gave me the figures for my unaudited gratuity and reduced pension, and informed me that the file was being processed.

I called the Pension Benefits Unit on August 19, 2017. I was told that when my file was sent to the audit department it was sent back with a request for information about my salary at UTech. The auditors told them that the salary scale at UTech had to be included in the file.

I am so tired and frustrated with the running around, as I was hoping to get this money to help pay my son's tuition fees at school.

I would appreciate your help.

LA

Dear LA,

After we contacted the Pension Benefits Unit at the MOF, they confirmed that they had been trying to get the salary scale for your job as a lecturer at UTech. On September 1, Tell Claudienne spoke to the Human Resources Manager at UTech, who said that the salary scale information had been sent to the MOF.

After the Pension Benefits Unit received the information, your file was then sent back to the auditors.

The Auditor General's Department confirmed that their team at the MOF received your file for verification on September 20, 2017. The spokesperson told us that since the files were dealt with on a “first in first out basis”, the audit of your pension benefits would have been completed by the end of October 2017.

However, on November 22, 2017, the auditors again returned your file to the Pension Benefits Unit. This time the auditors said that in reviewing your file they noticed that you had resigned from the job you held at the Ministry of Agriculture four months after you were appointed in 1987. If that was the case, the auditors argued that your pension benefits should not be calculated to include your seven years of employment to the MOA.

When Tell Claudienne asked the Communications Department at MOF for clarification, they sent us the following e-mail on December 5, 2017:

“On reviewing LA's file, it was noted that her appointment (permanent staff) took effect on January 15, 1987. LA thereafter resigned from the Ministry of Agriculture on July 13, 1987. As such, her years of service cannot be linked to the teaching service. The file will now be returned for continued processing at the Client Services Unit of the Pensions Administration for her service in education at a high school and UTech.”

It appears that you were a temporary employee for most of the time you were at MOA.

When we checked the MOF last week, your file was still with the auditors.

We will continue to follow up this matter. Please let us know when you are notified that your pension package has been approved.

We wish you all the best.

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