Maternity benefit wait – a nightmare for mothers

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Mothers who have submitted claims for maternity benefits to the Social Security Board (SSB), are annoyed at how long it takes for them to receive payouts.
The Antigua and Barbuda Social Security Board pays maternity allowance of 60 percent of a woman’s average weekly earnings, while her employer pays the other 40 percent, for a maximum of 13 weeks.
According to Aneta Matthew, customer relations manager of the SSB, maternity claims are processed at least eight-weeks after they are submitted.
She added that there are times when the wait extends beyond the specified time but that is not entirely the Board’s fault.
“If all the records from the employer are not in or if the information is not clear, it may take longer than eight weeks. There are times employers don’t submit their part of form, and we need it. It has pertinent information, like the last day the employee worked. If we don’t get that then we won’t know when payment should start,” said Matthew.
Arlene Martin, executive secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Employers Federation (ABEF), said that they have not received any complaints about employers not submitting the requisite forms to the Social Security Board.  However, she said now that is has been brought to her attention it will be communicated to their members.
“I will be impressing upon my members, make sure that this is being done because of the hardships this is causing to individuals. It has to be hard, especially to those at the lower income rate,” said Martin.
Meanwhile, some mothers voiced their concerns to OBSERVER media, claiming that they have been “highly inconvenienced” by the delay.
“I had to wait at least four months to get some of the money owed to me and when I did get it they were in about seven different cheques. This has led me to question why I couldn’t have received my cheques when they were written,” said a disgruntled mother.
She added that much needs to be done to address the situation, as the portion paid by employers is not enough to meet monthly financial obligations.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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