The social security system in Panama is operated by the Ministry of Social Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Social). This ministry, otherwise known by the acronym MIDES, handles the insurance programs for pensions, health, and unemployment.
Panamanian citizens receive a social security card with a unique identification number.
As an expat, one must apply for a Certificado de Afiliacion, or certificate of affiliation to the Social Security Fund of Panama. Foreigners must do this once they arrive in Panama at the National Migration Office (Servicio Nacional de Migración Panamá). If approved, they can receive their certificate of affiliation card within five business days. One must provide the following documents in order to receive the certificate:
Workers in Panama have to contribute to social security on a monthly basis. If one's gross monthly earnings are 500 balboas ($500 USD) or less, 7.5% of their income will go towards social security. If one earns more than 500 balboas a month, 7.5% is still paid to social security, along with another 6.5% towards an individual account and 1% towards old age and disability insurance. Employers also contribute to social security.
All residents and citizens of Panama can receive retirement benefits once a certain age is reached. For women, that age is 57. For men, it is 62.
Some of the benefits include:
Women can take maternity leave for three months. Many women in Panama will take a leave for the six weeks before the birth of their child, and the six weeks after to total the three months. For men, paternity leave allows for three days of paid time off. The employee must inform his employer at least a week before the leave.
Those that are unemployed, temporarily sick or with a disability are not entitled to any benefits. However, there are private companies that help people with disabilities.
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