During our public consultation on reform of our Social Security, many persons had concerns about what happens to their money after they die, especially if they die before being able to tax the system like they would want to. They chose to focus on the fact of the funeral grant [of $2,500.00] and the adequacy of this amount. This is our fault ” we have been marketing this aspect of our fund poorly. Let me repeat. Our system is a partially funded, pay”as-you-go system; meaning that none of us pays the full cost of any of us. Rather, all of us pay the cost for those of us who need help when help is needed. We have determined that there are some 26 ways for persons to qualify for help and survivorship accounts for 5 of these options (widow, widower, child, parent and orphan). Remember too, that as individuals, we withdraw everything that we have put into the system by age 72 at the latest. If Social Security were to accept the “my money” concept, then its obligation to the pensioner would end when the “account” is depleted. Good thing that this is not so. With Social Security, death is truly not the end ” in many ways it is a beginning. Yes, the person who pays for the funeral of the deceased insured person gets the grant, but note how many other benefits follow and to whom. Wednesday Online Code for Issue # 736 is TIQ To start with, the spouse of the deceased gets a spouse pension. If the surviving spouse is younger than 45 years old, it is paid for one year, but if the surviving spouse is older than 45 years old at the time of death of the insured person, then the pension is paid for life or until re-marriage or cohabitation. We know this already. We also know that spouse also includes the common-law ones. What I want to dwell on now is the size of the pension. If the spouse is not earning an old age pension, then an amount equal to 50% of the deceased’s pension is paid. If that spouse is already earning a pension, then one half of the half is applicable. This means that the percentage payable to the survivor ranges between 15% and 30% of the deceased person’s average salary. Thus, for every dollar of pension, the spouse will receive 15 ” 30 cents. This is because pensions max out at 60% of the insured wages (up to $6,500.00). In addition (not instead of), there is a possibility of a dependent parents” pension, a dependent child pension and an orphan’s pension that is different due to the loss of both parents. At a recent training course that I attended, the philosophy of survivors” pension was explained. It seems that this type of benefit was around even before age pension, and is a vestige of war: it was designed to assist widows of war veterans during those times when women were not so involved in the workforce and during these times when there is a differential in the earnings of women compared to men. The argument is that the loss of the one spouse results in at least a 50% fall in household income and at best a 30% fall in household costs. What I found interesting is that survivors benefits amounted to between 2% (in Australia) to 28% (in Colombia) of total benefits expenditure. This led me to wonder where St. Kitts and Nevis ranked on this scale. It turns out that since 2001, we have been fairly constant at 6%, around the same point as a few countries in Europe. What does a 6% survivorship mean? It means that we are losing our dependency on each other. We are becoming “islands” unto ourselves and not forming lasting relationships. It means that we are living longer, so that our children are no longer dependent when we pass away. It means that we have become self sufficient because we now have a payday. It means that we are having less children ” i.e. our birth rate is declining. It means that we no longer have to care for parents, and it means that we not involved in war. It is good that relative peace abounds ” relatively, but I am uncertain whether our “independence” is proving to be good for our society. However, if we micro-examine the data, we see that between 2001 and 2006, the rate increased from 5.99% to 6.08%. While this is statistically insignificant, to me it has meaning. I attribute this movement to the senseless gang wars that have gripped the Federation, resulting in deaths of our young men and women who leave a young child or children behind. This, then is the impact of crime and violence on the sustainability of our Social Security system. It hurts everyone. Therefore, we must all do our part to end the violence. A catch phrase within Social Security is that we care for our people from the “cradle to the grave”. And we do. But the violence is becoming too grave and is impacting our very survivorship.