Most countries across the world today operate social security schemes as part of interventions to ensure the future socio-economic well-being of their citizens. Rapid socio-economic and demographic changes including aging and poverty across the world underscore the importance of such an intervention. As Schorr (1963:1) explains, the goal of social security is protection against “social insecurity: the situation in which people are exposed to and unprotected against overwhelming, frequently inscrutable social forces.”
Social Security is an organised programme that uses public funds to provide some economic security or income protection for its members in the events of certain contingencies. The funds go to support contributors when they reach retirement or old age or become invalid, sick or unemployed. Also, in the case of loss of life, these funds provide support for contributors' dependents. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) describes social security as “the protection that a society provides to individuals and households to ensure access to health care and to guarantee income security, particularly in case of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work, injury, maternity or loss of a breadwinner”. The income protection benefit provided under a social security programme is always financial in nature.
Social security has become an important part of retirement income for many workers globally. Studies show that social security is the main source of income for 70 percent of retirees and a
minor source for 23 percent, in the United States of America, according to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey. The situation in developing countries, particularly in Africa, may be no different given rising incidence of population aging and changes in the traditional family system which used to be the main resource system for many people in old age. Like many African countries, Ghana is experiencing an aging population and coupled with changes in the extended family system, governments have since the early 1970s been operating the social security as an important part of retirement income for formal sector workers.
Ensuring a secure retirement requires that people carry out successful retirement planning and one way of doing so, is to develop a clear understanding of the retirement income one might be entitled to, from social security. Thus, contributors' knowledge and information on social security issues must be important to them. Communication scholars have underscored the importance of information as a resource for enhancing people's social functioning. Emanuel (2007:1) attempts to explain the important role of communication in our lives as “communication is the vehicle that allows us to recall the past, think in the present, and plan for the future.” What people know about social security is likely to influence their savings especially as they near retirement later in life and by extension, their social functioning.
It is known that some developed countries have put in place measures to inform their citizens on such matters. For instance, the United States of America, through the Social Security Administration (SSA), sends earnings and benefit statement to workers by mail. The primary purpose for the statement is to provide workers with information on their social security benefits and to help them plan their financial futures (Smith and Couch, 2014). In Ghana, the SSNIT has
Social Security in Ghana
The social security scheme was started in Ghana in 1965 under the Social Security Act 279. Subsequently in 1972, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) was established under NRCD 12 to administer the scheme in a form of a provident fund. The scheme was converted into a Pension Scheme in 1991 under the Social Security Law, PNDC Law 247. The National Pensions Act, 2008, that is Act 766, was passed by parliament on 4th December, 2008 and gazetted on 12th December that same year. The objectives of Act 766 were to provide pension benefits to ensure retirement income security for workers, to ensure that every worker received retirement benefit as and when due and also to establish a uniform set of rules and standards for administration, payment of retirement and related benefits for workers. Though social security was meant to cover all workers, some categories of persons were exempted by the 1992 Constitution. These persons included the officers and men of the Ghana Armed Forces, electoral commissioner, CHRAJ commissioner, Chief Justice, the Fire service, Audit Service and the Judiciary services.
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