15-year wait for help

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Vaughn Glenn made a promise to his mother before she died in 2002 that he would take care of his younger brother, Fabian, who has Down syndrome.

At the time Fabian — because of his illness — was receiving financial benefits from the State pension that was due to his father, who died in 1996.

Vaughn admitted that his brother received payments up to age 18, when they stopped without notice. However, he insisted that Fabian should have continued benefiting from the Government scheme as the Pension Act determines that a child who was mentally or physically incapacitated at the time of his/her parent’s death and who “was wholly or mainly dependent” on the parent for support “may, if the governor general so directs, be treated as continuing to be eligible, after attainment of the age of 19 years”.

The elder brother told the Jamaica Observer two weeks ago that he has been back and forth with the Accountant General’s Department (AGD) and the Ministry of Finance since 2004, and was basically at the end of his tether when last year he dreamt seeing his mother — who was also a civil servant — and she reminded him of his promise.

“In 2004 it stopped. I wrote to them in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. I stopped sending them letters because it was a waste of time. I spoke to a gentleman at the Ministry of Finance who told me that I should submit a report along with my brother’s birth certificate. Last year February I got a dream from my mother saying ‘You are my child and I know you are not a quitter; go down there and raise hell if necessary to get what you want’,” Vaughn said.

The following day he went to the finance ministry where he spoke with a representative who requested his brother’s file. He explained that when the representative looked at the file she was just as puzzled as he was.

“She asked for a medical report from the doctor and I submitted it the following day, along with his birth certificate. She said she was going to submit it to the relevant person for approval,” he further explained.

He said that in June 2018 he received a letter from the ministry giving approval for the continuation of the pension payments to his brother beyond the age of 19 years, and that the amount should remain the same until the governor general so determines.

The letter, which he showed the Observer, stated: “Mr Fabian Kishawne St Nicholas Glenn, son of the late Mr Baldwin Nathaniel Glenn, formerly an electrical inspector 2 in the former Ministry of Public Utilities and Transport, was in receipt of a pension at the rate of ($11,052.70) a year.

“His pension ceased on September 27, 2004, the date on which he attained age 19 years. Mr Glen was diagnosed with Congenital Disorder of ‘Down Syndrome’ from birth and is mentally incapacitated and is therefore incapable of working for survival.”

The letter also stated that Vaughn should submit a Taxpayer Registration Number and that banking information should be submitted to the AGD in order to allow for the processing of the payment.

Vaughn said when he submitted the document to the AGD he was told that he had to get a document from the court to prove that he is his brother’s legal guardian.

He said he immediately went to the court where he was given an August date to file the application.

However, he was told that the application was incorrect and that he should, instead, file an application — under the Mental Health Act — with an affidavit from his siblings stating that they have no issue with him being Fabian’s legal guardian.

When he presented the affidavit he was told that it was insufficient and that the court needed a psychiatric evaluation report for Fabian.

Vaughn said he got the report, submitted it to the court and, on February 12 this year was granted permission to act as his brother’s legal guardian.

He said that on February 14, when he submitted the court ruling along with the other documents that were requested he was told that the benefit would continue within six weeks.

However, AGD Customer Relations Manager Kimorley Humphrey told the Observer two Fridays ago that the documents were submitted to the department on February 20 for processing.

At the same, time Humphery said the Legal Service Unit at the finance ministry is reviewing the documents and is awaiting the agency’s instruction as to how to proceed with the payments.

Vaughn, who is also a civil servant, said he’s sharing his story with the hope that relatives of individuals who are entitled to pension but are not benefiting will ensure that they receive what is due to them.

While he awaits the process, he admitted that taking care of his brother has been challenging.

“Three times per week I take him to a special school in Liguanea between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. I stay there and wait on him until school finish. We take public transportation home because I don’t want anyone to ill-treat him. Sometimes I borrow my sister’s car,” Vaughn said, adding that he pays $12,000 per term for his brother’s school fee.

“The other day he was sick and the medication cost $17,000, and I had to pay it. A better mi hungry but mi nah mek him suffer,” he said, noting that his brother does not have a health card.

He has also made an application to receive funds from his deceased mother’s pension, which is still being process by the Government.

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