Caricom Reciprocal Agreement

The freedom of movement granted by the CSME to certain categories of workers and the self-employed and their families would have been deprived of much of its effect if persons, in exercising these rights, risked losing out on social security (national insurance) benefits acquired in their home state.

Heads of Social Security Systems were aware of this reality and so in 1997 in collaboration with the respective governments of CARICOM, the CARICOM Reciprocal Agreement was established.

The purpose of the agreement is to protect the benefit rights of migrant workers and their dependants by implementing two fundamental principles:

  1. Totalization (aggregation), for the purpose of acquiring and retaining the right to benefit and of calculating the amount of benefit of all periods taken into account under the laws of the member countries.
  2. Payment of benefits to persons resident in the territories of member countries.

The following 14 countries signed on to this Agreement:

  • Antigua & Barbuda
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Monsterrat
  • St. Kitts & Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent & Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago

 

Benefits of the Agreement

  • Freedom of movement of workers & the Self-employed
  • Transferability of benefit rights through the principle of Totalisation
  • Guaranteed pension instead of receiving a grant in a country because of insufficient contributions
  • Opportunity to augment the human resource base of each participating state

 

Direct Benefits:

  • Invalidity Pension
  • Disablement Pension
  • Old Age Pension
  • Survivor’s Pension
  • Death Benefits in the form of pensions

Checklist

  • Totalization (pooling the insurance period served in the countries where Persons would have worked) and determination of benefits.
  • Contributions in respect of different categories of migrant workers
  • Submission of claims
  • Documents to accompany claims

 

Persons Covered Under the Agreement

  • Insured persons and their dependants
  • Self-employed persons
  • Voluntary Contributors

 

Voluntary Contributions

The agreement allows for the payment of voluntary contributions. Permission to pay the contributions is dependant on the number of contributions made in the participating states. In other words, the contributions will be added together (this is the concept of totalization).

Reduction/Forfeiture of Benefits

The benefits will not be reduced, modified, suspended or forfeited if the insured persons or their survivors reside in a state other than where the benefit is payable.

However, the agreement does not allow any person to receive two benefits of a similar nature at the same time.

Provisions Determining the Law to be Applied

Persons will be subject to the legislation of the State where he/she is currently employed. If persons are employed on a ship, then the legislation of the State where the ship is registered will apply.

In the case of the Self-employed Coverage, persons will be subject to the State where they work.

If persons made compulsory contributions in one state and become a voluntary contributor in another, they will be guided by the provisions of the Country where they have made the compulsory contributions.

The reciprocal agreement makes provisions for persons in cases where the legislation of more than one of the participating states apply. If you or any insured person is disadvantaged by the application of certain provisions of the agreement, then the relevant authorities could by mutual agreement make exceptions for the application of this convention in the interest of the person(s) affected.

This is especially so for diplomats, persons working on ships, voluntary and self-employed contributors and others who reside in countries other than their place of work.