Social Security pumped $28.8 million into the CNMI’s economy last year, according to SS Administration District Manager-Saipan Bridgette Camacho.
Camacho disclosed that 2,750 people in the Commonwealth received $20.9 million from SS benefits in 2015, while another 1,033 received $7,920,000 in Supplement Security Income payments.
Camacho discussed SS programs at the 2nd Annual “One Community CNMI” Conference: Employment and Reentry—Connecting Employers and Their Employees with Government Opportunities held yesterday at Kanoa Resort Saipan’s Seaside Hall.
In an interview, the SSA district manager said Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is a new state program, it’s non-taxable, and a program run by the federal government and paid by the federal government.
Camacho said SSI is a monthly cash assistance program for low-income aged, blind, or disabled persons.
“The Northern Marianas is the only insular area eligible for Supplemental Security Income, thanks to the negotiators of the Covenant between the CNMI and the United States,” she noted.
Camacho said Covenant negotiators included this in the negotiations with the U.S.
She said Guam, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa don’t have SSI because it was only the CNMI government that negotiated this into the Covenant in establishing the Commonwealth.
“So we are very lucky,” Camacho said.
The district manager said the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability program—popularly called Social Security—provides monthly benefits to an eligible worker and family members when the worker reaches retirement age or dies or becomes disabled.
She said retirement eligibility requires 40 quarters (generally 10 years) of payment through the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) payroll deduction; and the benefit amount is based on lifetime earnings.
Camacho said CNMI government employees began accruing eligibility for SS in 2012.