Applying for early retirement
Oran Hall, Personal Financial Advisor
QUESTION: I was reading online and saw your article re: 'A new retiree's confusion'. I would like for you to provide me with the correct information as I am looking forward to applying for early retirement benefits in Jamaica. I am turning 56 this year and would like to apply for early retirement, but I'm not sure how to go about the process. I am currently residing in Canada, worked for 6 years at the Ministry of Agriculture, and taught for 16 years with the Ministry of Education. I have my TRN, new birth certificate, my NIS number and a list of the places I have worked over those years. How long will this process take as I would like to come to Jamaica for a week in the summer to sort out all the paperwork? Thanks for your prompt advice.
FINANCIAL ADVISER: To qualify for retirement benefits, employees in the public service are required to have a minimum of 10 years' service, but the arrangements for employees in the various parts of the service differ. The following relate primarily to teachers.
According to information supplied by an officer of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, teachers who break their employment between the time they enter the service and the time of their retirement are required to have a minimum of 18 years' service or to serve for at least half of the time between the starting date of their service and the date of applying for retirement benefits.
In the latter case, for example, the teacher who applies for retirement benefits 32 years after entering the service would need to have 16 years' service to qualify.
The teacher who does not meet that requirement but spent the last 10 years in the classroom before retirement would, however, qualify.
Although 60 is the age at which employees in the public service qualify for retirement, teachers may apply at 55, so on that basis, you can apply for retirement benefits.
You have not said if the 16 years you mentioned refers to a period of unbroken service, but it is important to note that a period of temporary employment counts as long as you were eventually appointed. This applies to your service at both ministries and, as the service at both ministries can be linked, it is possible that your retirement benefits could be based on 22 years' service.
You should apply to the Ministry of Education your last place of employment, by writing a letter regarding your desire to retire. In addition to the documents and information you mentioned, you would need your marriage certificate if you are married, and if you father's name is not on your birth certificate, a statutory declaration of age. Your letter should also mention where you worked and when.
After doing its own checks on your length of service, for example, and is satisfied that you are eligible for a pension, the Ministry of Education will send you a set of forms which you should complete, sign and return. Thereafter, they will send them to the Ministry of Finance & the Public Service.
My information is that the process should take four to six months if you return the information required promptly and if it is accurate.
Oran A. Hall, a member of the Caribbean Financial Planning Association and principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel. firstname.lastname@example.org