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SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed

Posted By: Marty

SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 03/26/20 11:14 AM

There will also be more relief for employers who have lost their revenue and employees who have lost their income.

The Chairman of the Social Security Board outlined the measures they will take to give relief to those who have lost their jobs:


Dough Singh - Chairman of the Board, Social Security

"We are proposing a statutory instrument to the government and it is in the making, where we will provide an amendment to the regulations act that will set aside that exemption period for anybody who is infected by COVID 19. What does that mean? It means that if you lost your employment and this is for people who had lost their employment as result of COVID 19, meaning the absence of tourist of a result of it, individuals who work in the hotel industry who the hospitality industry or anybody else who are affected and job was compromised as a result of COVID 19. Those individuals lost employment but we will consider the employment continuous of the purposes of any infection under COVID 19. So if 3 weeks after their loss of employment, they should contract the infection, then they will be medically covered as if they were continuously employed. So that should certainly set, give some ease to the tensions being created as a result of this to both the employers and the employees. We still want to encourage the employers to do what they can, some have suggested they continue to employ or pay 8 hours which is the minimum amount per week that you need to pay for someone to consider them to be continuously employed. We want to encourage that too because I think if we have very loyal, very hard working employees that you don't want to lose, in tough times like these if you can afford it, it would be a good gesture to continue to provide some payment to these individuals. In addition to that however, we have to put some provision in place for employers who are struggling at this point in time and we know that they are going to have difficulties meeting the obligation to make their payments for the social security contributions on the 15th of April and 15th of May. The 15th of March has gone by and I'm sure some had difficulties with that. What we're providing is that employers will need to continue to submit the filing as it becomes due but we are going to wave their requirement to make the payment at this point in time. The legislation at SSB under normal circumstances would automatically; not making your payment would attract penalties and interest. We are going to work with the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Prime Minister who is the only person legislatively that can actually waive these, so we're going to request a waiver of interest and penalties that accrue as a result of individuals not making those payments for the next 2 months and then we're going to work on a program to try to have them catch up to those payments as the set of circumstances ease. There is still going to be obligated to file the return just not actually make the payment."

Social Security is also making a 5 million dollar contribution to the national recovery effort.

Hon. Dr. Carla Barnett - Economic Czar

"It's true to say the situation in the economy is catastrophic as is what we describe it as because it is not only the tourism sector, it is the allied sectors, everybody that contributes to tourism and that's a really large sector of the economy that we're talking out. The information that we have suggest that we're talking about upwards of 80% of the employees in the hotel sector that are losing their jobs, that's 80% of about 14 thousand people. All of the tour guides that 100% of about between 2,300 to 2,500 people. We've also had significant job losses at the borders in the free zones as a result of the shutdown. We've had significant impact on the productive sector, the farmers who provide to the hotels and restaurants that serve to tourism. The impact is going to be quite large, there isn't a fixed number, we can tell you right now that it looks to us that if the impact on the tourism sector alone, we're talking about a 45% reduction in cruise arrivals and about the same reduction in overnight tourism arrivals concentrated in this period."

"What that means is that immediately it's the job loss yes, but it's also the revenue loss, it's the revenue loss to government, it's the revenue loss to other institutions that depend on the sector for direct income, we're talking about BTB, we're talking about PACT, we're talking about NICH that draw the majority of their income directly from the tourism sector. So it's a large impact we're talking about, let me talk a little bit about how the relief for employees for people who have lost their jobs, how that is going to work, at this stage it looks like it will be 150 dollars every 2 weeks, it's not a lot of money, we're not seeking, we cannot replace people's incomes but we can help to relieve the stress in terms of meeting basic necessities. It looks like that will be the final number that we hit upon and how will people get access to this? First of all, while we have prioritised tourism, tourism in our economy is broad base because we have what we call the alive sectors that are alive because of tourism so, we include all of that. We're talking about tour operators, hotel and resorts, transportation providers that provide to the tourism sector, we're talking about visitor entertainment destination, art and craft stores, other supplies of the tourism sector and we can add others as we go along."

"The kind of jobs, the kind of employees that we're talking about, we're talking about tour guides, office staff, cleaners, janitors, room attendance, we're talking about kitchen staff, store clerks, even mechanics, people who work on the buses who take the tourists around. Independent operators such as freelance guides, tour guides, vendors, hair braiders. We're talking about taxi operators, so we're trying to cover an account for the people who work as a result of who have lost their work in the tourism sector and the allied sectors because of the COVID 19 pandemic. The social security board will be the paying agent, it won't be paid by a department of government, it will be paid strictly from the social security board, through the funds that will then be sent to social security board for that purpose. How will the forms be available where people can apply? We're going to be whenever the system starts, we're going to be putting that form on covid19.bz website, we're going to be putting it one general government of Belize website, it's going to be available from different places. If people don't have access to the internet, they'll be able to pick up hard copies in social security board offices. They'll be able to leave them in a drop box at social security board office, those drop boxes will be cleared every day and we're going to be processing these things through very quickly. Advise that should be by the end of next week, the latest the end of next week. In another day or so, we should be able to see the forms on the covid19.bz website, people will be able to fill out the form online and they will be able to download a form and fill it out by hand if that's what they need to do and then put it in the drop box same way."


So, that website agains is COVID19.BZ.

Channel 7
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 03/27/20 11:31 AM


The Social Security Board is making adjustments to support the country as we prepare to face COVID-19. You can now submit claim forms via email to claims@socialsecurity.org.bz. They are also creating a facility to support businesses and they are also waiving the payment of deductions to reduce cash strain for employers. Their representatives gave us all the details and advised that there will be more announcements via a Press Conference scheduled for tomorrow. On our couch:

Chandra Cansino - General Manager, Corporate Customer Relation Services (SSB)
Dough Singh - Chairman, Social Security Board
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 03/31/20 11:26 AM

Social Security Board’s Preparedness and Response Actions in the wake of COVID-19

The Social Security Board remains committed to safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of our staff, customers and other stakeholders. In light of this, the following measures have been put into effect:

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S.S.B. Amends Benefits Regulation


The Social Security Board has positioned itself to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The S.S.B. says that it remains committed to safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of its staff, customers and stakeholders. Several measures are in effect including the amendment to the benefits regulation. With thousands of individuals losing their jobs due to COVID-19, the Social Security Board has taken a necessary measure in order to provide Sickness Benefit coverage to unemployed workers who become sick as a result of COVID-19. Manager- Corporate Customer Relations Service Chandra Cansino explains.

Chandra Cansino, General Manager- Corporate Customer Relations Service

“What we have done is waive some of the qualifying conditions for recently unemployed persons to collect sickness benefit should they be diagnosed with COVID-19. So what does that mean? That means if Hipolito was recently terminated and he get COVID-19, God forbid I hope you don’t get it Hipolito, then you would still be able to make a sickness benefit claim with Social Security as long as you meet the other qualifying conditions which would be that you were previously employed with march fifteenth, that you were employed before that, but you are no longer employed as result of the measures taken for COVID-19 then your sickness benefit will be paid until you recovered from COVID-19. We just want to ensure workers that we very concerned. We didn’t want them at their most vulnerable time to not be covered.”

Hipolito Novelo

“And that benefit is tied to the salary that the individual was earning?”

Chandra Cansino

“Yes, it is tied to the salary that they were making prior to their termination. This is Social Security benefit, not unemployed.”

Channel 5

Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/02/20 06:46 PM

NOTICE FROM THE Social Security Board

TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON SERVICES

Today, April 2, 2020; all Branch Offices countrywide will discontinue in-person services until further notice. Our Branch Offices will continue to provide services via email, telephone and the Drop Box service during the hours of 8:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. Monday - Friday.

Kindly access our services through the following:

1. Benefit Claims Submission via email claims@socialsecurity.org.bz
2. General Queries via email: info@socialsecurity.org.bz; or Facebook messenger: ssbbelize
3. Contact the Branch in your area via the numbers provided below for over the phone assistance.

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As an essential service, our staff continues to work diligently in ensuring Insured Persons receive their SSB benefits and COVID-19 relief payments being provided by the Government in this time of need.

As a reminder; persons can visit www.covidl9.bz for any information on the relief and application process.
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/10/20 11:27 AM

Update on the COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Program

The Government of Belize launched the electronic services portal whereby applicants can apply to receive benefits of the UNemployment Relief Program by COVID-19. Starting at noon today, April 9, around 59 , 500 applications had been subjected online. Several physical applications have also been received that will be manually registered on the portal early next week as soon as appropriate protocols regarding time and sanitation can be implemented.

The Economic Monitoring Team has been working diligently on the verification and approval processes of these applications. Disbursements to 1,488 approved applicants were sent to the Social Security Board this morning for processing. Verification and approval processes are carried out continuously and such processes will continue to operate this way over the course of the long weekend as the next amount of approved applications are expected to be more than the previous one.

Applicants are requested to verify that the information provided in the form is correct. Small spelling errors of names, social security number, or phone number delay the process of processing the application or in communication with the applicant.

Note that this program provides $ 150.00 every two weeks for a three-month period to people who have been fired due to the COVID-19. crisis. The program also provides $ 100.00 assistance. every two weeks for a three-month period to people who remained unemployed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now going through even more difficult circumstances. People who were already unemployed before the pandemic will also be referred to the Ministry of Human Development for consideration of additional assistance through social programs operated by the Ministry. People who remain employed, whether full-time or part-time or absent from their work with permission, do not qualify for this program and should not apply.

The following people also don't qualify for the Unemployment Relief Program right now:

1. People who do not have Belize nationality
2. People Goodbyes March 2020 by Belize Tourism Board
3. People under the age of 18
4. People will benefit from other government programs or social insurance programs

Again, every applicant is advised to submit their online application via a computer, tablet, or a smart mobile phone with internet access as this way guarantees the shortest time between when subdue your app, approval and payment of relief. Please be as accurate as possible when entering the required information. Research and approval processes are based on computer systems and depend on correct information. If you need help filling out the form, you can access a short instructive video on the website www.covid19.bz.
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/14/20 04:48 PM

Notice: COVID-19 Relief Fund HOTLINE NUMBERS

For financial assistance, queries or concerns on your application and payment call: 621-3618 | 621-3400 | 604-4645.

Effective March 28, 2020 the qualifying condition that a person must be employed upon becoming ill has been suspended.

Persons are advised to submit completed Sickness Benefit forms to claims@socialsecurity.org.bz.

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Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/21/20 10:42 AM

Update on Unemployment Relief Program

As of noon today, April 20, 2020, a total of 72,213 applications had been subjected to the Unemployment Relief Program since the opening of the program implementation system on April 3 of 2020. This amount includes some of the physical applications that were received, which have already begun to enter the electronic portal.

So far, 32,916 applications have been approved for payment to applicants. These include 7,106 applications that were approved today and already sent to the Social Security Board (SSB) for processing.

SSB has made payments directly to the account of 20,153 applicants between April 9 and 17

Bank Heritage has prepared 2,618 ATM / debit cards, which were sent to SSB offices for distribution. Some of these cards still need to be prepared, so applicants will be notified via text message when their cards are ready to be picked up. Applicants who receive these cards must activate their personal ID number (PIN) in order to withdraw the cashier's money or use the card to make purchases in establishments that accept debit cards.

Due to the large number of applications containing misinformation, the computer technology team is in the process of creating an additional electronic portal that will allow applicants to enter the page and review the status of their application. If additional information is required to advance the application to the next phase, the applicant will be directed to the numbers you must call to provide the required information. This portal is expected to be ready for use within the next two days.

A total of 11, 454 applications have been excluded because the applicant falls under the following classifications that do not qualify:

1. Under 18 years old

2. ➤ has Belizean nationality (this applies only if the person is applying for long-term unemployment relief and does not apply for people who just lost their jobs), or

3. Either a beneficiary of the Government of Belize (GOB) or receives SSB pension, or is part of the BOOST program

A total of 28,159 applications remain pending and are being reviewed as quickly as possible.

As illustrated in the graph, most of the applications for unemployment relief were received during the first six days, between April 3 and 9 They have declined significantly since then.

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Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/22/20 05:13 PM

Unemployment Relief Program Status Check

Have you applied for the Unemployment Relief Program and want to check the status of your application?
Click the link below to see the terms of your application.

https://payment.covid19.gob.bz/paymentstatus/
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/23/20 10:22 AM

Status Tool for COVID-19 Unemployment Relief Online Portal Under Repair

On Tuesday, April 21, an additional tool was loaded on the online portal of the COVID-19. Unemployment Relief Program. This tool allows applicants to connect to the Internet to verify the status of their financial aid application.

Many applicants have used this to verify their applications and has largely been effective. However, several people have mistakenly received a message indicating that their application does not meet eligibility requirements. That message has been deleted until its functionality can be corrected. All applicants who received that message should note that their applications are being reviewed.

The Economic Monitoring Team apologizes for any mistakes and any distress it may have caused.

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From one person:
I haven’t applied before but according to this my social security is being used. I been trying for days now.

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Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 04/25/20 10:34 AM

CLOSURE OF #COVID19 UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF PROGRAM ONLINE PORTAL AS $3,460,300.00 DISBURSED TO DATE

The Economic Oversight Team informs the public that the online portal for the Unemployment Relief Program has been closed to new applications. The portal opened to receive applications on April 3, 2020 and up to the time of closure at 4:00 p.m. today, April 24th, a total of 81,007 applications were received.

Of this number, a total of 35,371 applications have been approved and 34,425 have been sent to the Social Security Board for payment to applicants. So far, a total of $3,460,300 has been paid to 28,574 approved applicants via direct deposit into their accounts or by top-up ATM cards. Payments that have been returned because of incorrect banking information are being reviewed. Applicants should continue to check online and follow the directions for providing correct information.

All submitted applications will continue to be processed and applicants can continue to check on the status of their applications by visiting www.covid19.bz. This includes those applicants who may have mistakenly received messages that their applications were ineligible. Those applications are being reviewed and some have already been approved for payment.

If it is determined that the portal should be re-opened to receive further applications, that decision will be announced when it is made.

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MINISTRY OF LABOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS VERSION II
RE: COVID-19 LABOUR/EMPLOYMENT SITUATIONS


CLICK HJERE
Posted By: Marty

Re: SSB Will Provide Benefits To the Suddenly Unemployed - 05/07/20 11:04 AM

Update on Unemployment Relief Program

The Economic Monitoring Team (EOT) has approved a total of 40,453 unemployment aid applications and all of these have all been sent to the Social Security Board (SSB) for disbursement.

SSB has processed 37,696 payments to approved applicants. Of these, 34,915 approved applicants have been successfully paid by direct deposit or recharge card. In addition, 15,438 of those people, who received their first payment before April 18, 2020, have now received their second payment. The SSB continues to process payments and all approved applications are expected to be processed by the end of today.

Banks and credit unions have returned more than 3,000 approved payments because incorrect bank information was provided at the time of submission of application. Subsequently, some of these issues have been rectified after communicating with approved applicants who have corrected their bank information. However, there are still more than 2,600 payments that remain on hold until the correct bank information is provided.

Therefore, applicants are advised to verify the status of their application on the web portal at https://covid19.bz/ and follow instructions to provide the correct information. When you call the phone numbers provided, be patient with people looking to rectify bank information. Your cooperation to provide the correct bank information is crucial to ensure payment of unemployment aid. If applicants do not correct their bank information, they will not be able to receive payment.

The EOT continues to review all applications received, and more approvals will be made.
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