Man Denied Retirement Benefits After 19 Years of Public Service Due to Missing Social Security Records
Imagine working for almost two decades in the public sector and then finding out that there are no records of your social security contributions for your years of service. Well, that’s exactly what Phillip Martinez says happened to him. For nineteen years, Martinez worked for the government in the Ministry of Health and later as a firefighter for the National Fire Service. Martinez turned 60 last year and went to the Social Security Board to apply for his retirement benefit but was informed that SBB was unable to honor his claim, after indicating to him that their records do not reconcile with his claim. Martinez says that even if that is the case, their records are showing that he has made 860 contributions which exceeds the required 500.
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “I went to the office and I gave them the time. They write out this here and they give it to me and now they are questioning from 1988 to 1989. Man I can’t see myself working for the Government of Belize and making two contributions for the year and the following year again 21 contributions followed that now something has to be wrong.”
Reporter: So you’re saying that after you spent over 18 years being a public servant there aren’t any records of your Social Security being paid throughout that time?
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “It seems to be because when I went to the office, I went to two offices. I went to this office here and they turned me around. I went to the fire department they said they don’t have any record of me.”
Reporter: How long did you work there?
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “ Fire department? Oh I worked there from- from there I got to be established from the fire department.”
Reporter: And from there you work with the Ministry of Health?
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “ I worked with the Ministry of Health. I never had much problem with health but with the fire department section they don’t have any record of this if something is wrong. How – I used to work for the Government of Belize and you won’t have any record of me?”
Reporter: how frustrating has this been for you?
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “They’re supposed to be fired immediately. You mean you can’t be working for the Government of Belize and- look at it this way you cannot get paid without them taking this out of your salary before you get paid so how can you tell me this now when I came off now now you will come and give me this kind of story? You have no record of me and as a matter of fact make it look so bad I am getting a pension from the Government of Belize.”
Reporter: So you’re receiving a pension but you aren’t getting your Social Security?
Philip Martinez, Retired Public Officer: “Right.”
Martinez has since lodged a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman and is hoping that through that medium his issue will be resolved. Our newsroom reached out to the CEO of the Social Security Board, Deborah Ruiz, who is looking into the matter. According to Ruiz, the SSB does have records from the Fire Department but in certain instances the names of contributors may have not been attached to the departments’ statements. As a further update to this story, just before news time, Ruiz reached out to our newsroom to clarify that there are two of the nineteen years that are being queried as those years do not reflect consecutive contributions which is now under investigation since Martinez did not have broken service during his years in public service.