Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our Question & Answer Library for answers and general information about Dominica Social Security.

At what age can an individual become insured with the Dominica Social Security?

Subject to the 3rd Schedule of the Classifications Regulations, all working persons (employees or Self-employed) 16 years or older, are required by law to get registered and to contribute toward their future benefits. They are required to pay contributions until they attain the retirement age.

What documents are required to get registered as an employee?

The applicant must present himself in person in order to have his photo removed. In addition, he must present the following documents:

  • A completed Employee Registration Form
  • An original copy of Birth Certificate
  • An original copy of Marriage certificate (if applicable)

What documents are required to get registered as an employer?

Every employer must complete and submit an Employer Application for Registration Form. If the business is a Partnership, the form must be signed by all Partners. If the business is being operated as a Company, or under a Business Name, the employer is also required to present all the other relevant Documents for Registration.

Are non-nationals required to participate in the Social Security program?

Every employee in Dominica (including non-nationals) must be registered with the DSS, and must pay contributions. Non-nationals must obtain and produce a Work Permit issued by the Government of Dominica Division of Labor & Immigration. The only non-nationals who are exempt from coverage are members of the Foreign Diplomatic Corp, and persons covered under Reciprocal Agreements with other countries.

When is the deadline for paying Contributions?

Contributions in respect of employees must be paid by the 14th day following the month in respect of which it is due. (Eg. Contributions in respect of the month of January should be paid no later than the 14th day of February). However, if the 14th day falls on a weekend or on a Public holiday, the deadline for payment is the first working day after the 14th. Contributions paid after the deadline attract a 10% Late Fee penalty.
Self-employed contributions must be paid within 14 days of the end of the Quarter for which it is due. Contributions that are not paid by the due date are subject to a Surcharge of 10% and Interest at the rate of 10% per annum on the total amount due.

Contributions payable by Voluntary contributors must be paid within 26 weeks of the end of the contribution year for which it is due. Contributions that are not paid by the due date are subject to a 10% Late Fee plus interest at the rate of 10% per annum.

How can I know whether or not my employer is paying my contributions?

It is every person’s responsibility to ensure that contributions are being remitted on his behalf. To find out whether your contributions are being paid, please Contact the DSS office. Every employee should ensure that his Social Security card is given to his employer on the first day of employment, or shortly thereafter.

Can an employee refuse to pay contributions?

No. The Social Security Act provides that contributions be paid on behalf of all working persons between the ages of 16 and the Retirement Age.

Am I still required to pay contributions if I continue working after the Retirement age?

No, an Insured person is only required to pay contributions between the ages of 16 and the Retirement Age.

Can I continue contributing if I am residing overseas?

The Social Security Act provides for the registration of Voluntary Contributors. As the term suggests, a Voluntary contributor is an Insured person who does not satisfy the conditions under which he may contribute as either an employee or self-employed person, and who opts to contribute on his own behalf on a voluntary basis. Persons who intend to take up temporary residence overseas fall within this category. It is, therefore, important that arrangements be made with the DSS to continue paying contributions as a Voluntary Contributor before departure. It is important to note that the Act does not extend such coverage to persons taking up permanent residence overseas.

What benefits does one qualify for as an Insured Person?

Social Security benefits are paid under three different branches:
The benefits paid under the Short-term Branch are: Sickness and Maternity benefit which are generally paid for a short duration of time (not exceeding 26 weeks/6 months), and are meant to partially replace employment income lost as a result of temporary absence from work. Qualifying claimants are paid a maximum 60% of their average income during the period of incapacity.
The Employment Injury Branch comprises Employment Injury Benefit, Disablement Benefit, Death Benefit, and Medical Expenses Benefit. These are payable as a direct consequence of an occupational hazard.
The Long-term Branch comprises: Age benefit, Invalidity benefit, and Survivors benefit. These are generally payable for a period exceeding 26 weeks/6 months. In addition, a Funeral Grant is paid upon the death of a member, his/her dependent spouse and dependent children subject to applicable Social Security regulations. Self-employed persons and Voluntary Contributors qualify only for the Long-term benefits.

Can an employer refuse to deduct and remit contributions?

It is an offence to refuse or fail to pay these contributions. Every employer is an agent of Social Security for the collection and payment of contributions. Therefore, if he fails to make the deductions, he then becomes personally liable for paying them.

How long does it take to process Social Security benefits?

A properly completed Short-term benefit Claim Form is usually processed and approved within one week. However, it must be borne in mind that all Short-term benefit claims must be submitted to your employer for completion of the Employer’s Certificate (on the reverse side of the Medical Certificate) before they are submitted to the DSS office. Unfortunately, some employers are somewhat tardy in their completion and submission of the form. It would therefore be helpful if you follow-up with your employer to ensure that the claim is submitted to the DSS office early.
Long-term claims are generally processed and paid within one month of the date of entitlement or submission of the claim, whichever is later. However, where there are difficulties with the information required for processing the claim – such as missing contributions – the processing time is dependent upon the time taken to resolve the particular problem.

In these hard economic times, is it fair for employees to pay their hard-earned monies to the DSS?

It is a natural human reaction for an employee to prefer pocketing every cent that he earns instead of paying contributions. However; we need to be realistic. If there were no taxes, it would be extremely difficult for the government to operate our schools and health services, maintain roads, and generally manage the country. Similarly, if there was no Social Security, thousands of retired persons would have absolutely no means of survival; thousands of widows and orphans would be in dire straits; thousands of sick persons would be without employment income whenever they fell sick; and thousands of women who became pregnant would be forced to remain without an income until they returned to work.
The amount of contributions that our contributors pay vis-a-vis the amount of benefit that they receive from the DSS program is quite remarkable. Indeed, the combined contribution paid between an employee and his employer is 14% of the employee’s income. However, at the very least, the smallest Long-Term pension he will receive is 30% of his income, while the smallest Short-Term benefit he will receive is at the rate of 60% of his income. Any investor will tell you that if a person invests 14% of his income, and receives 30% to 60% in return, that this is a remarkable Return on Investment. By contrast, if one was to save his money on a Fixed Deposit account in the bank, he would receive interest at the maximum rate of 5%. Moreover, if he spent his savings, (to use the old adage: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Our Social Security records reveal that within no more than three years of receiving his benefit, an Age pensioner normally recoups the total amount of contributions which he had paid during his entire working lifetime. In some cases, some pensioners recoups their total contributions in less than one year. Even so, Social Security is obligated to continue paying him for the rest of his lifetime (on average, another 20 additional years). When he dies, not only is a Survivors’ Pension paid to his dependents, but a Funeral Grant is also paid to assist with his burial expenses. In the end, therefore, some employees recoup more that 50 times the amount of contributions paid on their behalf. Hence the Contributions employees pay to the DSS should be viewed as an investment which repays a much, much higher return than that paid by the banks and most other organizations.

Can a claim for Survivors benefit be made if a person disappears at sea?

Where an Insured Person is reported missing, a claim for Survivors benefit can be made from the date of such disappearance. However, payment cannot be made until seven years have elapsed, and the person officially declared dead. Such claim must be supported by an official report from the police confirming such disappearance, and, at the expiration of seven years, a letter confirming that the person has not been seen or heard of since.

What is a Contribution (or Credit)?

Each weekly payment received on behalf of an Insured Person is referred to as a Contribution, and such contributions are converted to Credits. Thus, an Insured Person who worked for an entire month is entitled to 4 or 5 Credits depending on the number of Mondays in that particular month. Therefore, the entitlement for an entire year is 52 or 53 Credits, depending on the number of Mondays in the year.
In addition, an employee who is in receipt of any Short-term benefit is awarded a Credit for each complete week (Monday through Saturday) during which he is in receipt of that benefit.

Who is a Self-employed Person?

A Self-employed person is distinct from an employee in that he works for himself. He is not employed as part of the business of another, neither is his work integrated into the business of another. Generally, such a person controls the terms and conditions under which he works.

What benefits does a Self-employed person qualify for?

Self-employed persons currently qualify for Long-Term benefits.

Who is a Voluntary Contributor?

A Voluntary contributor is an Insured person between the ages of 18 to the Retirement Age who is neither an employee, nor Self-employed person; who is ordinarily resident in Dominica, and who pays contributions on his own behalf on a voluntary basis.

What benefits does a Voluntary Contributor qualify for?

Voluntary Contributors are entitled to Long-Term benefits.

What is Redundancy Benefit?

Redundancy benefit is a benefit paid to an employee who suffers loss of employment arising out of the introduction of new methods of work, whether by automation, mechanization, rationalization or reorganization due to shortage of work in accordance with the Protection of Employment Act. That Act stipulates that the employer is responsible for the payment of Redundancy benefit.

Who is a Social Security Inspector?

Social Security Inspectors are Officers who are duly authorized by Section 12 of the Social Security Act to visit any place where persons are employed, and to conduct the appropriate investigation and examination of employment related records to ensure that the proper procedures are being followed in keeping with the provisions of the Social Security Act. The Inspectors are trained professionals and are quite resourceful in clarifying, assisting, or advising on Social Security related issues. It must be noted that it is an offence under the Act to obstruct, molest or refuse admission to these Inspectors, or to refuse to furnish them with any information or documents which are required for the purposes of inspection or investigation.

What happens to my Contributions if I work in another CARICOM Country?

Under the CARICOM Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security, if a person works in more than one member country and paid sufficient contributions in each country to qualify for a pension in his own rights, each country is required to pay him a separate pension based on its local Regulations. However, if he did not pay sufficient contributions to qualify for a pension in each country, the contributions paid in each member country is combined to assist him in meeting the qualifying conditions for such a pension. If upon combining his contributions he qualifies for such a pension, each member country wherein he worked is required to pay a proportional amount of the pension payable.
Dominica is a party to the CARICOM Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security, which covers most of the CARICOM member territories. Dominica also has a Reciprocal arrangement with the Canadian Social Security.

Please refer to the CARICOM Agreement on Social Security Layman’s Guide for further information or you may access the entire CARICOM Agreement on Social Security Act.