The issue of parenthood as it relates to social security benefits is threefold; maternity, dependent surviving children and dependent parents. Walter describes this as the benefit that goes up, down and sideways. Since Social Security boasts of we providing benefits from the ‘womb to the tomb’, let us begin this discourse with the “womb” rules, i.e. the rules for maternity benefits. As a reminder, this discussion is based on SR&O No. 28 of 2002 and the Social Security Act No. 13 of 1978. There are two separate maternity benefits, an allowance and a grant. The allowance is payable once the pregnant woman has been insured for a minimum of 39 continuous weeks with not fewer than 20 contributions in the last 39 weeks being paid or credited. The new mother is required to produce a certificate of confinement from her doctor within 3 weeks of her delivery. She becomes entitled to 65% of her weekly wage for a period of 13 weeks. The maternity grant is a one-time gift towards the child and is set at $450.00 for each child born at one confinement. This aspect was subject to much debate during the reform discussion; some felt it could be the start of an educational trust; others felt it was abused while yet others wanted it paid only to children born in the Federation. Dependent surviving child benefit is payable upon the death of the parent, to an unmarried biological (including illegitimate), adopted or step child, provided that child is under 16 years or under 18 years if still attending school or college and who was being maintained By that parent. It is payable to all eligible children. The amount payable to each child is set at a sixth of the maximum amount, except where there are more than six children. If so, and if there is no spouse, then the benefit is divided equally among the eligible children. If there is a spouse, and less than six children, then the money is divided equally among them. What happens if there are more than 6 children? Call our offices to find out. The maximum benefit is either 30% of the annual average wages of the deceased insured person, or the annual amount of the invalidity pension of the deceased, or the current minimum annual ceiling of the age pension or of the invalidity pension, whichever the deceased was receiving or entitled to. However, whenever the formula yields too small a benefit for the child or children, it is topped up to $96.00 per month, regardless. If both parents of the dependent child pass away, the orphan becomes entitled to a greater benefit, usually double the amount. I was recently challenged By a parent who was getting “only $96.00” for her child whose father had died. If only he had been honest to Social Security and himself when he was alive and working! Surviving dependent parents will be paid a benefit for one year if at the time of death of their insured child, the parents were younger than 62 years old, and the deceased had paid in at least 150 contributions. If the parents were older than 62, the benefit would be payable for life, provided that the parents do not become employed. In both cases, the benefit payable is a sixth of the maximum amount that was defined earlier. The final condition is that the total child, parent (and spousal) survivor pension cannot, By law, exceed the maximum amount. For more information and explanation, contact us at our offices in Basseterre or in Charlestown.