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NIB says it followed the law in amputee’s case

News day / “Our main purpose is governed by the borders of a law, the National Insurance Act,” said Ag Corporate Communications Manager Ryan Isava in a response to Newsday’s queries. “In that Act, the Invalidity Benefit is paid to an individual upon confirmation that he or she is incapable of employment in any capacity for which remuneration is or would be ordinarily be payable.” According to the NIB’s records as read to the Newsday yesterday in a telephone interview with Isava, Auguste applied for the invalidity benefit in January 2010.

The NIB’s process for investigating the validity of his claim, however, was only completed in August of 2010. Auguste was then given a lump sum payment of $18,000 on October 21, 2010 for the backdated period of September 2009 to October 2010, after which he received the monthly benefit.

But Auguste, as money given to him by his former company Transocean Ltd stopped coming in 2009, said he had no choice but to work in order to provide for his family.

He worked for two months of a threemonth probationary period with Pricesmart in La Romaine before leaving due to the discomfort with his amputated leg.

According to the NIB, this was the decision that, six years after, sealed Auguste’s fate.

“Upon review of the claim in 2016, it was recognised that Mr Auguste would have returned to insurable employment subsequent to the date that he was certified to be an invalid. As a result, the insured’s payment of invalidity benefit has therefore been suspended in accordance with the National Insurance (Benefits) Regulations 25A as amended, which states: The Board may suspend or cease payment to a person in receipt of invalid benefit where he/she – (b) works in employment for which remuneration is or would ordinarily be payable.” Based on the information provided, Newsday pointed out that there was an inefficiency in a system which doles out an invalidity benefit to an unemployable person 10 months after they applied for it.

“That is something we have to apologise for because it puts a person in an uncomfortable position,” said Isava. “But the law does not tell us what to do in these situations.” Confident that the NIB acted within the boundaries of the law, Isava suggested that Auguste appeal the NIB’s decision. “There is an appeal box in every service centre. You fill out a form, you lodge the appeal together with all of the documentation on the matter. It then goes before an independent tribunal and the NIB will have to follow whatever the tribunal decides, whether it is to stand by its decision to have him repay, to strike the funds off, or to continue paying him the invalidity benefit.” Isava said the NIB would conduct a full investigation to ensure the best delivery of their services to Auguste and their other customers.

Newsday could not reach Auguste yesterday for comment, but Auguste, a father of three, has been engaging with the Social Welfare Division of the Ministry of Social Development in the hopes of securing a public assistance grant.

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