In 2013, the Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board (ABSSB) achieved 40 years of service to the people of Antigua & Barbuda. As such, the ABSSB may be considered a maturing Social Security System (SSS). In SSS, like the ABSSB, current contributions are expected to cover current pension payments. However, as these SSS mature, it is anticipated that current contributions will no longer be sufficient to finance benefit payments. Hence, Investment Income and Fund Reserves should be available to cover Benefit Payments and overall operational expenses.
Increased health care has served to enhance both quality of life and life expectancy. Consequently, the length of time pensions are paid on average exceeds 20 years and every year the number of persons who become eligible to receive a Social Security pension continues to increase. In 2009, the ABSSB made payments to 5,974 Age pensioners. By the end of 2013 however, persons in receipt of an Age Pension increased by roughly 25%. Total Benefit Expenditure was recorded at $72.7 million in 2009, whereas in 2013 this expenditure stood at $99.1 million, an increase of 36.2%.
Other notable performance indicators for the ABSSB as at December 31, 2013 include, but are not limited to:-
- Contributor to Pensioner Rate – 4.1
- Total persons in receipt of Social Security benefit- 18,448
- Age Pension expenditure accounted for 85.4% of Total Benefit payments
- Total Contribution Income amounted to approximately $85.5 million
- Total active insured population (persons aged 16 – 59) – 36,478
- Contributing employees have reported earnings in excess of $6,500 – 5.7%
- New employees registered – 2,070
- New employers registered (inclusive of self-employed persons) – 899
- Estimated proportion of 60+ population receiving a Social Security pension – 74.6%
- Social Security Reserves as a % of GDP – 19.4%
- Highest number of contributing employees worked – Government/Public Sector 21% of the work force
- Largest reported gross earnings with approximately $227 million – Hotel/Restaurant Sector
The increase of the Social Security contribution ceiling as of May 1, 2013, moved the maximum allowable Social Security Age pension from $2,250 (50% of $4,500) which will should increase to $3,250 (50% of $6,500), shortly.
It is critical to understand that, demographic changes as the ageing population and declining birth rates have heavily impacted the operations of the ABSSB. Migration also plays a pivotal role in the operations of the ABSSB, as records indicate that registration of employees with Caribbean and International nationalities increased by 12.3% and 16.6%, respectively in 2013 when compared to 2012. In light of the reciprocal agreements of CARICOM and Canada, benefit payments to qualifying nationals of said territories will serve to impact the financing needs of the ABSSB. Hence, Legislative reform continues to be high on the Social Security agenda.
More significantly, the Social Security database revealed that nearly 18,500 persons received a Social Security benefit in 2013, crystallizing the importance of the ABSSB to the social protection and economic activities of the nation.
Notwithstanding the increase to the contribution rate and the contribution ceiling it should be noted, that as the needs of the society continue to evolve so too should the operations of the ABSSB. Therefore, contributors and beneficiaries can rest assured that the ABSSB will endeavour to hold true to its motto of ‘growing to provide for you’, to safeguard the sustainability of Social Security in Antigua & Barbuda.
For further information on any aspect of Social Security be it from a local, regional or international perspective, please contact the Social Security office at:
Know Your Social Security
The Antigua & Barbuda Social Security Board
P.O. Box 1125
St. John’s, Antigua
or email us at: email@example.com