Benefits and Assistance

The National Insurance Board provides ten (10) cash benefits, four (4) cash assistances and one “benefit-in-kind”.  The benefits are paid in respect of Sickness, Maternity, Funeral, Retirement, Invalidity, Survivorship, Unemployment, Injury, Disablement and Death.  The assistances are the Old Age Non-Contributory Pension, Invalidity, Survivors’ and Sickness.

Benefits are awarded to insured persons who meet prescribed contribution conditions; assistances are awarded to needy Bahamian residents who do not qualify for a particular benefit, and only after the application of the “test-of-resources”.

Biennial Increases for Short-term or Long-term Benefits and Assistances

The biennial increase is an automatic increase based on the 2010 Amendments to the National Insurance Act, which ensures that workers can insure more of their income and, also that benefits stay current with inflation. 

These biennial adjustments began in 2012 and have continued every two years as prescribed in the National Insurance Act and Regulations. The last increase took effect on July 1, 2018 where the wage ceiling increased to $670 per week and pensioners received an increase of up to 1.2%.  Other benefits such as maternity and funeral grants were also increased; such increases being based on movements with retail price index.

The increase in the insurable wage every two years is not an increase in the contribution rate which is paid by employers and employees each week. 

Unemployment Benefit

A weekly payment made to eligible insured persons who are unemployed but actively looking for employment. It is not paid to self-employed persons, voluntarily insured persons, summer students or persons who are partially employed, i.e., on reduced work days.

Rate: 50% of the unemployed worker’s average weekly insurable income.

Period: Paid so long as unemployment continues to a maximum period of 13 weeks within a 52 week period. 

To Qualify: Must be younger than age 65 years of age and able to satisfy the Department of Labour’s conditions for registration. In addition, at the date unemployment began, must have been able to satisfy three contribution conditions:

  1. Paid at least 52 contributions into the National Insurance Programme since it started in 1974; AND
  2. Paid and/or been credited with at least 13 contributions in the 26 weeks immediately before the week in which you were last employed: AND
  3. Paid and/or been credited with at least 7 contributions in the 13 weeks immediately before the week in which you were last employed.

Funeral Benefit

A one-time payment made to the person who has paid or is responsible to pay the funeral expenses of a deceased insured person.

       Rate: $1,680.00 ($1,720.00 as of July 1, 2014)

       To Qualify: Either the deceased person or his/her spouse must have paid at least 50 weeks of contributions.

Maternity Benefit and Grant

Maternity Benefit

A weekly payment made to eligible insured women while they remain at home during late pregnancy and confinement.

       Rate: 66.66% of average insured wages/income

       Period: Up to 13 weeks (could be increased under special, specified circumstances).

       To Qualify:   Claimant must have paid: 13 contributions in the 26 weeks immediately before the week the illness started; OR 26 contributions in the 40 weeks immediately before the week she either stops work or has the baby; OR 26 contributions in the immediate preceding contribution year.

Maternity Grant

A one-time payment made to a woman whose pregnancy results in the birth of a live infant; it is paid for each live infant. To qualify she must have paid at least 50 contributions in to National Insurance. If she has not paid the required number of contributions it can still be paid if her husband meets the contribution condition for the award of the Benefit.

Sickness Benefit

A weekly payment made to eligible insured persons while they are temporarily unable to work due to illness.

       Rate: 60% of average insured wages

       Period: 156 days but can be extended to 40 weeks.

       To Qualify:   Claimant must have paid: 13 contributions in the 26 weeks immediately before the week the illness started; OR 26 contributions in the 52 weeks immediately before the week the illness started; OR 26 contributions in the immediate preceding contribution year.

The monthly rate of payment for the Long-Term Benefits - Invalidity, Retirement and Survivors’ Benefits - varies depending on the total number of paid and/or credited contributions, from a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 60 percent of the insured person’s average weekly insurable wage or income. 

Retirement Benefit and Grant

Retirement Benefit

A monthly payment made to insured persons who have retired from gainful employment or who have attained age 65 years. While full benefit is payable from age 65 years,  persons have the option of receiving the benefit from as early as 60 years but with a reduced rate.

       Rate: A range of 15 - 60% of average insured wages or income depending on number of contributions paid and or credited.

       To Qualify: Must have paid at least 500 weeks of contributions.

 Retirement Grant

Should you fail to meet the 500 contribution condition for the award of Retirement Benefit, which is a monthly pension, a one time Retirement Grant will be paid to you.

       Rate: 6 times average weekly insurable wage for each set of 50 contributions.

       (Example: If 250 contributions made and average weekly insurable wage is $400 per week, then Grant = 6 x 5 x $400 = $12,000)

       To Qualify: Must have paid at least 150 weeks of contributions and must have attained age 65 years.

Invalidity Benefit

A monthly payment made to eligible insured persons who have been medically certified to be permanently unable to work as a result of illness.A person suffering permanent incapacity as a result of a job-related illness, should claim Disablement Benefit).

       Rate: A range of 15 - 60% of average insured wages or income.

       To Qualify: Must be younger than 65 years and have paid at least 150 weeks of contributions.

Survivor’s Benefits and Grants

Survivor’s Benefit

A monthly payment made to the dependent survivors of a deceased insured person.

       Rate: Payable in varying amounts to qualifying dependents in priority order: widow/widower dependent children (biological, adopted, stepchildren) of the deceased under age 16 years, or up to age 21 years if still in full-time school; unmarried children who are not children of the deceased person, but who were wholly maintained by him/her, under age 16 years, or up to age 21 years if still in full-time school; or who are invalids; unmarried orphans under age 16 years, or up to age 21 years if still in full-time school; and the parents of the deceased.

Survivors’ Grant

A one-time payment made to a widow/widower of a deceased insured person who does not qualify for Survivors Benefit on account of his/her age or lack of dependents.

 Rate: One lump sum equal to the annual retirement or invalidity benefit to which the deceased was entitled or would have been entitled.

 To Qualify: Must have been married to the deceased for at least one year; deceased should have paid at least 150 contributions.

Under the Industrial Benefits branch, employed persons or all self-employed persons who suffer job-related injury or contract job-related diseases, are eligible for Injury Benefit, Disablement Benefit and/or Grant, Industrial Death Benefit, Industrial Funeral Benefit, and free Medical Care. To read more click here.

Old Age Non-Contributory Pension, commonly called “Old Age Pension,” is a payment made monthly to needy Bahamian residents age 65 years or older, who do not meet the contribution conditions for Retirement Benefit.

Survivors’ Assistance is a monthly payment made to the needy surviving dependents of an uninsured deceased breadwinner. It is paid in the same priority order as Survivors’ Benefit.

Invalidity Assistance is a monthly payment made to an individual who has been certified by a medical practitioner to be permanently incapable of work due to illness.

Sickness Assistance is a weekly benefit paid to an individual who:

  • is temporarily unable to work due to illness; and 
  • has paid at least one contribution, but not enough to qualify for Sickness Benefit.

In the case of all assistances, applicants must satisfy a stringent test-of-resources in order to qualify.