Dealing with the thorny issue of pensions


Dealing with the thorny issue of pensions

Tell Claudienne

Claudienne Edwards

Sunday, September 15, 2019

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Dear Claudienne,

I worked for the Collector General's Department from 1971 to 1985.

At that time the customs, and Excise Taxes Unit and the head office at Marcus Garvey Drive were one department, but now they are separated. All the personnel files were sent to the Customs House at King Street. My file was seen by a close friend while she was working there.

I applied for my pension at the Human Resource Management and Development Unit at Customs House in May 2018.

I think that the lady in charge is giving me a hard time as she is telling me that my file can't be found.

Could you please help me as I need my pension.


Dear VM,

Tell Claudienne contacted the head of the HR Unit at Customs House and was told that a search would be done in their archives for your file.

When the HR was unable to find your file after several months of searching, Tell Claudienne sent the following e-mail to the commissioner of customs.

“If VM's file is never found. Could you please clarify the following:

“Can duplicate records and a file be compiled for VM?

“Please clarify the process involved in establishing duplicate records and a file.

“How long does it take to establish duplicate records and a file?

“Please state a timeline in which VM can hope to have the Customs HR unit send information to the Pensions Unit of the Ministry of Finance for his benefits to be processed”.

The commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) sent the questions to the Customs HR but the clarification being sought was not obtained.

In the meantime, the column was informed by another government agency that in cases where the file with the service letters and documents of appointment of an employee of a government agency cannot be found, a new file can be created.

To create a new file the HR unit must obtain a statutory declaration from an executive or supervisor who also worked or still works at the agency, who can attest to a time frame when the individual whose file cannot be found was an employee at the agency. The statutory declaration must be witnessed by a justice of the peace.

Tell Claudienne found out that the Customs HR was creating a new file of your service records when you told us that the HR Unit had contacted a former senior employee of the customs agency who was working there at the time you were an employee. You said that she was now living in Florida.

In the meantime the senior director, Human Resource Management & Development, sent the following e-mail to Tell Claudienne on August 21, 2019:

“Your email to the Commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), Mrs Ricketts Walker, is acknowledged.

Please take note of the following information:

1. The Human Resource Management and Development Unit of the JCA has been in constant contact with VM about his pension application and the current status of the process. As custodian of this process and his personal information we ensure that he is updated at each step of the process.

2. All relevant arms- (ministries, department and agencies) of the Government of Jamaica are aware of the process and have been working with alacrity and precision, observing all the necessary protocol to ensure closure.

3. Our conversations with VM up to August 21, 2019 suggest to us that he is satisfied with the direction of, and also that he fully understands what is required and has been cooperative in this process”.

On Wednesday, September 11, 2019, you informed Tell Claudienne that on September 5, 2019, you received a letter from the director of the Customs HR Unit that stated as follows:

“Reference is made to your application for a deferred pension.

“I am informing you that documents for computation for a pension have been submitted for processing by memorandum dated September 4, 2019, to the Penisons Administrative Unit, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

“Please feel free to visit or call the client services section at 876-932-5047.”

Please let us know when your pension claim is finalised by the Ministry of Finance.

We wish you all the best.


Dear Claudienne,

I hope all is well with you. I am hoping beyond hope that you can help my mother who is in a bad situation and on the verge of giving up. My father, her husband, passed away in December 2017. She has applied for his pension and has been told she has to wait.

My father was a soldier in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF). He retired as a Staff Sergeant and was receiving a pension before his death. She has been told different things, so could you please tell me what she should do as the bills are piling up fast.


Dear CM,

Tell Claudienne has been advised by the pensions office at the JDF that your mother should take your father's marriage and death certificates to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and apply for her widow's pension.

We wish you all the best.

Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or Please include a contact phone number.

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