Seamen benefits in flux

| 24/02/2013

boat builders.JPG(CNS): The community affairs ministry has admitted that there are some problems with the funding of seaman’s benefits and delays in applications as a result of an increased number of ex-seamen or their spouses applying for assistance. The minister now responsible for community affairs said officials were updating the records for new and old recipients, ensuring that money was not being paid to people who had died. In the face of mounting concerns from veterans and widows who say they have not received their money, Dwayne Seymour said the cash was not been withdrawn but records were being checked, causing some delays in the payments to new applicants or to spouses of sea-veterans that had died.

Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing, Seymour said there had been past cases where government was paying seamen’s assistance into the bank account of former seaman long after their deaths and as a result the ministry had to ensure that it was paying the benefits to living ex-seamen or their widows. The checks had resulted in money that had been incorrectly paid being returned to government, the minister said.

The department has created new forms and Seymour stated that, given the growth in applicants and the budgetary constraints, government had checked that the right people were getting the right benefits. The benefit is means tested and government is hoping to curb the incidences of payments being made to those who have a significant income or who have passed away. Seymour said that when an-ex seaman dies spouses can still get the benefit but they needed to make an application to access it.

However, there seems to be a considerable number of hoops for surviving spouses and new ex-seaman applicants to jump through before they can get the money. A significant number of documents must be verified and the applicants must demonstrate their financial circumstances are such that they qualify. All of this, the minster admitted, was leading to delays in cash being given out.

Seymour said the government programme, which was designed to assist the country’s sea veterans if they were unemployed or have meagre incomes, was never meant to be given to so many people.

Dorine Whittaker, the chief officer in the ministry, said there were more applicants than had been expected when the programme was first established. She explained that as people came up to retirement age and the time when ex-seamen could qualify for the benefit, far more of them than anticipated had too small pensions and had less than $2000 coming in each month, making them eligible for the benefit.

Although not designed for former mariners with their own businesses or other means of income, more veterans than expected have found themselves in poverty in their old age. Government had envisioned the budget it needed to allocate for this benefit falling as the years went by, not only because of the loss of lives but that many veterans would have been self-sufficient, but in reality far more sea veterans are unable to fend for themselves than government had been foreseen.

Ex-seaman and veteran mariners are entitled to the benefit of $500pcm as an acknowledgement of their services to the country and to keep those who contributed so much to the Cayman Islands out of poverty. However, with government’s depleted coffers, poor pension investments, the economic downturn and growing unemployment among Caymanians, the numbers of those entitled to seek government assistance appears to be putting a strain on the public purse.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Local News

About the Author ()

Comments (36)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Status and VOTING says:

    Auditor General…..Time to look at the books!?!

    While you are at it, The Pines XXXX

  2. Anonymous says:

    This program should be phased out…

    • Anonymous says:

      It should never have been phased in in the first place. Just as bad as anything the UDP does nowadays, it was a blatant piece of vote-buying by a couple of politicians whose views nowadays are actually taken seriously – one to the extent that he appears regularly on the radio.

  3. Anonymous says:

    More vote buying is all this scheme is. There’s men who don’t need it that take money which is shameful

    • Anonymous says:

      While there are genuine deserving people here, govt needs to come clean re their finances.

      Why is Social Services also closed this week – are funds for indigents now being distributed by some Benefactor?

      PS -I and my family do NOT receive such funds, but it's time for govt to stop playing with the people's money!

      • Annonymous!!! says:

        Social service must be taking out of office seminars again. Cant have meetings in the conference room any more .Tough.

        Its a crying shame that they dont weed out the ones that dont need the assistance and consentrate on the true needy ones.  Why some people are working, have rental property and have a spouse but still get help, shame,shame on both, SS & the client.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dwayne needs to explain more than he is at this moment.

    • DS says:

      Well you see it's more of a scheme… not a lie… or a plan. Well ummmmm.

  5. The lone haranguer rides again! says:

    I understand that thease old semen are very popular with the young ladies, widows benifits for life, so we will be paying seaman’s benefits for another 50 years or so. Nice shot ladies.

    I am not a seaman but, I have been blown ashore, I wonder if that entitles me to benifits?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just swallow your pride and apply.  What comes around goes around.

      • Make my new oven a Smeg says:

        The trouble is Bush and seamen are too close to one another. A little money shot here and there is the norm in West Bay. Things are hard, yet they can still give their ladies pearl necklaces? Come, come.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And many more will be needing benefits soon too. I know of civil servants hired since 2000 (on the "defined contribution pension") who are retiring with less than $500 per month…this after 15 to 25 years of service.

    As this pension fund ("contributions") is mainly numbers on paper, and paid out from the annual budgets, paid for by ever increasing taxes or fees. Not an actual properly "managed fund" where it is "invested".

    All designed by those on "defined benefit pensions", who retire with very comfortable pensions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most Civil Servants on Defined Benefits will get less than $1,500 per month after 20 years of service and will be lucky for $2,000 with 30 years of service, but check the politicians with 20 years of service you want to see a fat cheque; probably in the region of $10,000 per month!  The incompetent ones who make it bad for the economy and who throws government's money away on trips are the ones get the majority of the spoils.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would love to know how a civil servant that was hired after 2000 is retiring after 15 to 25 years of service. Are they working on dog years?

  7. noname says:

    I read with keen interest the surroundings of this seaman pension and I am wondering where are all these new applications and loopholes are coming from, I hope this does not turn into yet another corrupt situation where women who were NOT BORN in the Cayman Islands and married one of our man just to gain stay in our country are benefiting from what our poor men and women has toiled and miled for. On behalf of our Seaman Association, I feel not one woman who were not born here, cut thatch to make rope, clean cow gut, iron clothes heated in wood fire, cook in caboose, scrub floor with coconut husk and the list can go on and on should receive these funds. What I mean to say, those women that were left behind to take care of this island when our men went to sea, they are the ones should be benefitting from these funds, together with those seamen who are alive. Social Services is a complete overrun mess is has become a "National Disgrace", every Tom, Dick, Harry, grandma and all the baggage is holding on to this poor sinking ship. Please do not let "Our Cayman Islands Seafearers" be a loophole for unwanted "carry down artists". Southwell were so proud of our Cayman sailors and your names has gone down in history as the best seamen in the world. Well let the world now also see that dignity and honesty still rains with our seamen. Do what is right and fair in the eyes of God for your country. Many of our good seamen have passed on including my dear father Vincent Prendergast, but for the remaining few I say"thank you all for the sailing the mighty seas and for the contributions you all made venturing your lives to make Cayman what it are today". I know many come and go and never stop to realise what they are enjoying today is the foundation laid down by our seamen. God bless you all for a job well done!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea like the young Filipina who is younger than me, his youngest child,  who was employed to care for my father who was suffering from cancer, she cared for him for a few months and the next thing I know they were married a few weeks before he passed away.  It appears that between that period of him becoming gravely ill and passing, apparently, she had brain washed him to attend the pensions office, made her  the sole beneficiary of his pension funds as well as the beneficiary of his seaman's funds.  He died, was buried, she showed up with her fake tears and I haven't seen or heard from her since.  I still want to slap him upside his head for being so stupid like many of our Caymanian men and women nowadays.   

      • Anonymous says:

        It was his right to do that.  Sounds like you are better your father chose some happiness at the end of his life over providing you with money you didn't earn but felt entitled to.

      • Status and VOTING says:

        So go to the authorities and tell them whoever is receiving the benefits is doing so from a sham marriage.  You owe it to your father's memory to have the marriage decision reversed.

      • St Peter says:

        The young Filipina sounds like she treated him better than anyone else during his time of sickness and need…

        Maybe your father believed that she was more deserving than any of his children?

    • Anonymous says:

      I was not born in the Cayman Islands but I have been here for more than 40 years and have been happily married to my seaman husband for more than 30 years. Why therefore should I not be entitled to receive his benefits if he passes on before me?

    • Anonymous says:

      What seaman, when did Cayman have a merchant fleet, an off shore fishing fleet or blue water ship building industry?

      A few men went to sea, sailing under flags of convenience and working for foriegn owned shipping company's. Most were never rated to any significant level of responsibility and even fewer made it to officer class, they were the Philipino and Chinese hands of their day and they never brought any great wealth to the Cayman Islands.

      So no big surprise that a small island with no other resource or significant industrial capacity sent a few of its men to sea to escape poverty or the law, big deal.

      Where are the pensions from their employers and why are you still believing the myth?



  8. Anonymous says:

    By the very nature of the fact of aging and the fact that no Caymanian has gone to sea in the last 40 years (and even if they have, they were not contributing to the early days of Cayman's development that we hear so much about), there should be NO additional seamen and dependents added to this list. The fraud associated with this benefit has been massive right from the get go and someone needs to stop it. If an auditor-general type person reviewed the criteria of the recipients, the results would be horrible -people who barely went to sea, rich ex seamen etc but of course people like McKeeva would NEVER let proper scrutiny of this program be done because it would reveal an essentially corrupt vote buying program.

    • Anonymous says:

      An end needs to be put to the corruption in these islands. There are much questions as to  who is receiving these benefits.

      1. Men who never went to sea in their life time, who only went from district to district in small dories.

      2. Thier spouse living abroad and receiving their deceased husband benifits. (Husband never went to sea in his life)

      There is a need to cut out pensions period because people who worked for many years cannot survive on pension.

      There is a need to put a STOP to Mandatory retirement age and allow people to work as long as they are able to.


    • Anonymous says:

      The law that created this should have said that his pension be divided with the woman he was married to during those years and who raised his children, because she now suffers while he moved on, married someone else and she, who contributed not to those years, now benefits as if she had.  That's a grave injustice to all those hard working ladies who stayed behind, raised their families and now have nothing from the deal. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why cant your ju ju examine it now. Poor Mack is not there now. Politicians has helped alot of expat seamen wives get the money not to say that it matters to me.If the men were stupid enough to marry them and make them Caymanians then what do you expect?

  9. Anonymous says:

    This says a lot about Cayman and its partiality in such matters. Why ex seamen only, why not all Caymanians of a certain age who have fallen on hard times? Oh I know there are social services for this and that, but it isn’t a joined up approach. I suspect too that the majority of recipients are based in……. you guessed it, West Bay, where years ago a certain McKeeva used to hand out the cheques personally.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This whole thing is hog sh.t. If it is a seamans grant then it dosent matter what income that a person might have. After all some men did what the bible speaks about with the five men that God gave talents to. Those Cayman men with more education and ambition did better at sea and when they came home for good they got jobs and some even built little rentalsetc etc. If they had more ambition than others then they should not be penalized for the one that just sat down and called on Government for help. That is totally wrong. I PERSONALLY KNOW OF A FEW MEN  who did not even apply because they knew bloody well that it was going to be given out like the social service grant… those who try bto help themselves dont get help and those that dont plan to ever work get assistance. If the seaman grant is going to be given according to your income then for Gods sake don t call it that but call it social service assistance. Even Dr Frank who triedso hard to help the seamen agtees now that with inflation $2000 is small to survive on. There is no Politician who can survive on that so how the hell can we seamen with familys. This is one and only expense Government has that is decreasing as there is not many seamen alive and every year some are dying, so why pick on them. Seamen built up this country.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Any family which accepts funds after the beneficiary has died should be taken to court for fraud. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully an exercise will be carried out which ensures that all of the people currently on the list should be receiving benefits and remove those who may have been put on there by politicians. 

  13. ABC says:

    Why are these people singled out for such special treatment?  If they were such wonderful seamen why did they not save for retirement?  I am so tired of this "heritage" bunkum. 

    • Freemoneyforvotes says:

      Just another similar nation building fund scheme to buy votes.Is it a coincidence that these schemes spring up every time the UDP got in power?  How can the number of people on this list increase after every election? It looks like anyone that can swim can get on this list. When did  people stop dying? When this was set up there should have been a time limit, say one or two weeks to get signed on and then the list should have been closed. Each year the list would have shrunk, not increase, as no one has gone to sea since the seventies early eighties, and eventually the fund could have been closed out. If we continue adding to this list it will never end and our great grandchildren will be paying for this and wondering what it is for.

      As far as eligibility goes, some went to sea and sent home every penny earned, some of these are now successful businessmen and needs no assistance from government, but some never sent home a penny choosing to spend whatever they earned in the next port having a good time on we all know what. Only God knows what we'll have to pay for after the next elections, I'm sure there will be another grand scheme created to keep draining the government treasury. What a mess.

  14. Anonymous says:

    every single recipient of state asistance should be means tested in great detail…….

    • Anonymous says:

      This might be the first thing (if it is actually done) that has happened good for the UDP.

      "However, there seems to be a considerable number of hoops for surviving spouses and new ex-seaman applicants to jump through before they can get the money. A significant number of documents must be verified and the applicants must demonstrate their financial circumstances are such that they qualify."

      Certainly there should be hoops to jump through initially or during a verification of the programme.  Why would anyone be against this is beyond me, and agree that any state assistance should be means tested!

      • Anonymous says:

        I really know how some of these seamen or their spouses would survive without this little assistance. God bless those that spearheaded this including Dr Frank.

        • Anonymous a seaman of 22 years says:

          Seamen grant, is for seamen period. The qualifications that was made by the Government was:

          A person had to be a going to sea for a minuim of 3 years, be a caymanian, living in the Cayman Islands at that time and those 3 years had to be before 1985. The wife of the seamen had to be married to the seaman during those 3 years.

          The qualification are the above and should be adhered to. The Qualification for the Seamen grant should NOT have anything to do with what one may or may not have. If a seaman did good for this country and himself and have something then he should Not be punished for being a good guy. No one family can live on $2,000 .00 P.M.

          Those that should be stopped, should be those that does not qualify, Like the expates that did not live in these Islands, and was not Caymanian during their time at sea, those that went to sea for a few weeks or did not go to sea at all, and the wives of the seamen that was not married to the seaman during his years at sea.

        • Anonymous a seaman of 22 years says:

          The seamen grants/pension is for seamen.

          We believe the government made the rules as follows: A person had to have 3 years working as a seaman before 1985, be Caymanian,  living in the Caymanian Islands during those years. The spouse had to be married to a Caymanian during those years and living in the Caymanian Islands.

          It should not have anything to do with what a seaman have or don't have. Why punish the good guys that made something, he served the country good. We all know that a family cannot live on $ 2,000. 00, P. M.

          The ones that should be stopped, are the ones that was not Caymanian during their years at sea and not living in the Caymnan Islands during that time. Also the ones that went to sea for a few weeks or did not go at all.

          It was the seamen that put these Islands on the map and keep the economy going when there was nothing here, by sending home their money, etc, The Waiver to enter the U. S. A.  was started/ put in place for the seamen and continue unto this day also the Airline.