Juan never thought that a sudden illness would take his wife and the mother of his children away from him. After nearly 45 years of marriage, widowhood was the hardest blow he ever received, following an accident at the factory where he was employed that left him unable to work.
Sofia, meanwhile, had thought the reality after retirement would be different, but the fact was she couldn’t get used to spending so much time “with nothing to do.” As she had to get some important repairs done to her home, she decided to go back to work.
In the case of José, the only survivor of a tragedy in which his parents were killed, the institutions in charge of looking after orphaned children did everything possible to ensure that he had a happy childhood. Today he is preparing to go to university.
Until nine years ago, those who found themselves in such situations, although not completely abandoned to their fate, couldn’t count on as far-reaching protection as is provided by the Cuban state today.
Law 105 on Social Security, in force since January 2009, recognizes the right of widowers aged over 65 or incapacitated for work, and who were dependent on their spouses, to receive both their own pension and that of their deceased loved one.
The legislation also allows those of pensionable age to return to work and receive both their pension and a salary, provided that they are employed in a different position from that they occupied at the time of retirement.
Similarly, it extends the right to social welfare benefits to orphans over 17 years of age, who continue their studies in full-time higher education and vocational training, until they finish their studies.
Haydee Franco Leal, deputy general director of the National Social Security Institute, spoke to GI in this regard:
“There is harmony within the (Social Security) system, in such a way that it enables the protection of the entire population through its different regulations.
“Through Law 105, alongside all the other laws that complement it, the Cuban state guarantees the responsibility that is established in our Constitution, regarding social security protection for all Cubans.”
FROM A GOOD TO AN EVEN BETTER LAW
Shortly before the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Cuba was forced to modify its Social Security Law. The previous law dated from 1980, and had made notable contributions to guaranteeing protection for the entire population, but it did not account for the complexities of a society that is facing accelerated population aging.
When the bill was presented to the National Assembly of People’s Power (December 2008), the then Minister of Labor and Social Security, Alfredo Morales Cartaya, stated:
“Today, Cuban women who turn 60 live on average 23.4 years longer, and Cuban men, 20.8 years more, placing Cuba among the countries with the highest geriatric life expectancy for both sexes and, consequently, among the countries where retirees enjoy more time from their pensions.”
To this reality, one can add the considerations of the current Deputy Director General of the National Social Security Institute:
“There are fewer people reaching working-age and those who are entering the ranks of retirees in the country are increasing. That necessarily determined the modification of the law.”
In this new scenario, it was necessary to perfect the Social Security system and introduce the following changes: raise the retirement age, extend workers’ social security contributions, and establish new special social security regulations.
The current legislation fixes the retirement age at 60 for women, and 65 for men, but also establishes other benefits such as the right to social welfare for total or partial disability, on providing proof of employment, the possibility of receiving more than one benefit to which one is entitled and, in the case of pensioners who return to work, the right to collect the corresponding benefits if they become ill or are injured.
A FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM
The Cuban Social Security System offers benefits in kind and in the form of free services to people who are unable to work, have no relatives who can help support them, or do not have the means for their sustenance.
Benefits in terms of services include medical and dental care, and physical, mental and occupational rehabilitation. They also include medicines and food while the patient is hospitalized, medications for pregnant women, orthopedic devices and prostheses.
This system also offers monetary benefits: pensions for those of pensionable age and social welfare for those with disabilities (total or partial), benefits for sickness or accidents at work, payments in the case of a worker’s death, and maternity and social welfare benefits.
Like the country’s economic model, the Cuban Social Security System is being perfected.
“All the measures adopted in this regard,” Franco Leal concluded, “will always be aimed at the sustainability of our system. The political will of our state and our government will always prevail to adopt all the necessary measures that are aimed at preserving our social security system.” •
SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM IN CUBA
- 52 Social Security institutions (retirement funds)
- Incomplete coverage
- Insufficient benefits
- Inequality between the different regulations
After the triumph of the Revolution
- The state assumes responsibility for Social Security.
- The first comprehensive social security system is created under the following principles:
Solidarity: The contributions and wealth generated by those of working-age is the source of funding for those who retire.
Universality: Social Security coverage includes the protection of all citizens.
Comprehensiveness: Worker protection covers all conditions (sickness or accidents at work, disability, old age, maternity and death).
Completeness: There is a relationship between the pension amount and the workers income when employed.
Background to social security in Cuba
- 1913: Law to regulate the retirement of military personnel. Law designed to regulate retirement from the military.
- 1915: Protection regime for communications employees.
- 1916: Law on accidents at work.
- 1917: Protection regime for judicial branch employees.
- 1919: Protection regime for public administration employees and teachers.
- 1920: Protection regime for the national police.
Social Security laws in the revolutionary period
- Law 100 (May 1963): Covered all salaried workers and more than 250,000 agricultural workers.
- Law 24 on Social Security (January 1980): Brought the provisions regarding the general social security regulations and social welfare into a single legal instrument.
- Law 105 (January 2009): Recognizes the protection of all workers in the state sector (general regime), includes the special social security regulations, and the social welfare system (protects older adults and people unfit for work).