SOCIAL SECURITY

Fast-track pensions begin

Ministry orders EFKA to start issuing overdue benefits to retirees ‘in good faith’

Fast-track pensions begin

The Labor Ministry and the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA) are activating the fast-track process for the issue of pensions, aiming at clearing out all pending applications by October.

A circular to that effect, concerning main pensions, was issued on Thursday, ordering EFKA agencies to immediately stop any correspondence regarding the verification of data concerning pension applications submitted up to March 31, 2022, and to immediately issue the decisions for the new pensions based on the clauses of the recent social security law on “confidentiality pensions,” meaning those issued in good faith.

The same will apply to any applications submitted since April 1, in the context of the fast-track process, if the definitive decision has not been made within three months – i.e. from early July: All correspondence on verification is to stop and the pension to be issued immediately based on the data submitted to date by the applicant.

Nevertheless the circular has an important footnote: Any time of labor insurance declared without any verification will be calculated based on the lowest contributions, corresponding to the minimum wage – that means the retirees risk being underpaid for the period for which they have failed to submit the necessary documents.

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There is also the risk that EFKA will issue pensions for some time to people who haven’t earned them. For confidentiality pensions (through old applications), re-inspections will be universal and not through a random sample, and are possible for the next decade, while the fast-tracked pensions (through new applications) will have to be re-examined within five years.

If checks identify any pensions that should not have been issued, their payment will immediately be suspended and the money paid out will have to be returned; however, payment will not stop if the time remaining before they earn the right to a pension is up to two years and the retiree agrees to cover it by paying the social security contributions due for the that period, according to the ministry’s circular.