The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) was created in 1965 to ensure that the increasing number of retiring formal sector employees get some pension to sustain them in their old age.
Before then, not much had been done for pensioners and retirees relied on the magnanimity of their employers for some lump sum payments when they were going home and on close and distant relations to survive in their pension years.
The establishment of SSNIT, therefore, has brought some relief to pensioners.
A worker who is a contributor to the scheme who retires on attaining the compulsory retiring age of 60 or 55, as the case may be under the scheme, and has contributed to the social security fund for a period of time stipulated by the scheme is entitled to a pension till death.
While in employment, contributors pay five-and-a-half per cent of their earnings at the end of every month and the employer is expected to pay 12 per cent to make up the full contribution to the fund.
Although many have complained about the amount received as pension, the payments have no doubt helped many a pensioner to have some form of regular emolument after retirement.
To ensure that pensions go to the right retirees, SSNIT periodically undertakes exercises to strike out the names of non-existent retirees to safeguard the funds of contributors.
As part of the exercise, SSNIT undertook a biometric registration of all pensioners above 72 years and gave notice that all pensioners in that age category who had not gone through the biometric registration by February 1, 2018 would have their names deleted from the pension payroll.
The Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, told the media in an interview during a conference in Accra that the trust had deactivated pensioners who, after several attempts to get them to register biometrically, had failed to do so.
It is apparent that many of those who have been deactivated have probably passed on to eternity and so their pensions are being enjoyed by others. The Daily Graphic is of the view that the deactivation of such pensioners should not be the end of the exercise.
If the beneficiaries have, indeed, died, it is possible for SSNIT to follow up to some (if not all) of the accounts to verify whether the payments have been withdrawn and those behind the withdrawals. This way, the trust will be able to retrieve some of the amounts paid and bring those behind any withdrawals to book.
While we support every effort of the trust to safeguard workers’ contributions, we would like to caution that every effort should be made to avoid a situation where our living retirees are deprived of their pensions.
Some of them may not have been able to register biometrically due to genuine reasons, which could be the fact of their ages and their inability to respond to such directives in good time. It can be very disturbing if, in one’s old age, one is deprived of the little money that will help keep body and soul together.