Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Health » Healthy Living: S.S.B. & COVID-19
Oct 29, 2020

Healthy Living: S.S.B. & COVID-19

It’s over seven months since Belize recorded its first case of COVID-19.  From that first reported case on March twenty-third to August first, there were only fifty-six total positive cases. Within the last three months alone, that number has exploded to over three thousand positive cases.  In tonight’s Healthy Living, we check in with the Social Security Board to find out about accessing sickness benefits due to COVID. 


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Since the start of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health has been at the forefront leading the charge to contain the growing number of cases of COVID-19, the Central Medical Lab has been feverishly processing samples, our security forces have been strained in enforcing quarantine regulations and behind the scenes – mostly working from home – the Social Security Board has been frenetically processing the growing claims for persons who are deemed incapacitated due to COVID-19.


Chandra Cansino

Chandra Cansino, Manager Corporate Relationship Services, S.S.B.

“We have well over three thousand cases positive for COVID-19 and that reflects persons who are working, that reflects older persons and also reflects, unfortunately, persons below working age.  From January to October twenty-fifth, we have one thousand and twelve submissions for sickness benefit for COVID-related illness. When we say COVID-related, it includes persons that are on mandatory quarantine, persons who are in isolation by the Ministry of Health, and it includes who are active COVID-19 cases.”


Interestingly, over half the benefits paid out by S.S.B. as of October twenty-fifth are for persons who didn’t even have COVID-19. Cansino explains.


Chandra Cansino

“We cover persons that are certified to be in quarantine as a result of Covid-19. The Ministry of Health is the body that determines this. So if you are in quarantine awaiting test results and the Ministry certifies that you are a suspect or suspicious case. Then they will certify that period, and the social security does cover that under sickness benefit. Of those one thousand and twelve cases that we have received so far for COVID-related illnesses, four hundred fifty-nine were paid to those in isolation, four hundred and eleven were paid to persons who were actually positive for COVID-19.  One hundred and three for virus not identified, which is a classification for suspicious cases, but not yet confirmed positive, and twenty-three of them were paid for contact and exposure. That is essentially the breakdown of cases. When you calculate the cost of that., that’s a little bit about half a million dollars in payouts thus far. It’s important to note, though, that the Ministry of Health is behind in the submission of these forms. Of course, the amount of work is overwhelming for them, and so we still have a lot of persons that are waiting on their period so of incapacity to be certified. So this number is expected to grow significantly.”


Based on the claims they had processed, the average recovery time for COVID-19 is two to four weeks. The longest sick leave due to COVID-19 has been six weeks. She noted that the current protocol still dictates that a person must test negative before returning to work. However, it was announced in August that this would be amended to match the World Health Organisation’s recommendations.
As for the anticipated spike in claims, as Cansino noted, not all the 3000 plus active cases would be eligible for sickness benefits. However, as you can see in this breakdown from the Ministry of Health produced on October nineteenth – when active topics were less than three thousand – the largest number of confirmed cases were recorded in people between the ages of fifteen and fifty – the population most likely to be employed. As the Ministry of Health clears up the backlog, the S.S.B. expects to see much more claim submissions.


Chandra Cansino

“The Ministry of Health is catching up right now. So I think we will see a significant surge in claims between now and November and December. We have also received unfortunately funeral grants and survivors claims. We are already paying out survivor pensions for survivors of COVID-19 persons, and we have already paid out thirteen funeral grants for persons who have died as a result of COVID-19.”


Recently, S.S.B. has shifted claim submissions entirely online.


Chandra Cansino

“We are now accepting claims fully online. This means you can submit your claim from your home or phone and have it paid without ever having to come to the social security office.”


Marleni Cuellar

“And how has that transition been going so far?”


Chandra Cansino

“It’s been going well. For most new processes, we have had our challenges. The process is a little more onerous on the claimant because you, as the claimant, need to ensure that your claim is completely filled, and there’s also the salary record that you need to get from the employer. For COVID-19 and COVID-related illnesses, doctors are submitting certificates directly to social security online, so the person does not need to go to the office to submit your claim. The doctor will do it on your behalf.”


All claims can be downloaded from the S.S.B.’s website, and a scanned copy or photo of the form should be emailed to Cansino urges claimants to be sure they fill out every section of the form accurately.  Be sure to complete the prior employment segment, provide your current employer’s name and email, double-check that your email address and phone number are accurate and ask your doctor to send you a copy of the medical certificate or to copy you into the email submitted to S.S.B.  For additional assistance, you can call the office or message them on Facebook.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed