OUCH: CAJA Went Up
- I have been using the group plan with ARCR since I became a resident in 2011. In 2011 CAJA cost me $49 per month. And then last year, in 2012, it increased to $59.This morning I went to the ARCR office to start paying on next year's CAJA. Normally I pay three months at a time, but today I wanted to pay only for January.....a few unexpected expenses this month. I asked the lady if the rate continued to be $59 per month, and I understood her to say "yes". And then she asked if I were a pensionado, and I answered in the affirmative. I asked if that made a difference, and she responded, "Yes, pensionado's receive the preferred rate. She then went into the next room for a minute and returned.Whenever she returned she said that my rate as a pensionado had increased to $84 per month. Needless to say I had to grasp for air. But the lady was nice about the situation, she showed me where some non-pensionados paid in excess of $200 per month through their group plan.I am certainly happy I was only prepared to pay for January. That gives me a month to see if I can get a better rate paying CCSS directly for my CAJA.Robert
- Can anyone tell what the current formula is to figure the cost of CAJA for pensionados from the US? Not the ARCR system, but what unaffiliated others are charged by. I assume it is some percentage of income?
- It is usually figured out at 8-10% of your income. So IF you claim 1K you pay $100 then yearly it seems about 3%. You only want to show the minimal amount legally to apply. A guy I know was not a pensioner has a great income and was told $600 a month. He not going to do this and is looking elsewhere to live.
- Nowadays through ARCR there is no provision to cut down on the amount of Social Security in your letter from the Embassy which I guess use to be accomplished through an application form expats used to sign up for their service. I have learned from other sources independently that the new law allows the CAJA to asses you on your full Social Security without reducing your total amount by the amount of your rent and utilites. When I received my notarized letter from the Social Security section last November, I asked for the SSA agent if the amount could reduced to just a $1,000. But I was told "no" because it was a notarized letter from a US government official so they would not be willing to certify anything but my full amount.So finally I think the Costa Rica government has figured out they can get more for the CAJA by not allowing the rent and utility deduction for new comers of your rent and utilities. At least that if this the system for newcomers who are under the new law, this what one could guess. They are accessing the full amount from which there is no appeal possible once your assessment is set by the CAJA.These are new waters I think and the CAJA may have new opportunities as well as authorities under the new law, but I have not asked for a legal opinion on this point from any lawyer, so I am only guessing. The other problem is that I was told by the clerks at payment counter here in Grecia, I was owe an additional 279,000 plus colones even though only amount due at the time was December.Now I am faced with trying to find someone who speaks Spanish well enough to go with me to the CAJA to see if I can get that erased from my record. The catch twenty-two according to a lawyer I consulted here in Grecia two weeks ago was is that the CAJA might not let my lawyer in the room with me because I am not married to her. Privacy laws seem to be into play from what I understood she was saying.I had decided to use ARCR for both my immigration and joining the CAJA, the immigration worked very well and very professional. But now I am hard pressed to understand how to proceed with the huge assessment I seem to have with the CAJA. In January when I go for my Cedula appointment it will mean that I am unable to pay my CAJA for two months. I bet that won't be a pretty picture!Thank goodness, I kept back a bit of money if I need to use a hospital or doctor in the near future or leave quickly, then I can. This is not certainly what I want or planned to do when I arrived in September.Tom
I read and have also been told by acquaintances who have received their Residency RECENTLY, that their 'fee' was determined by a calculation by the CAJA staff, based on 10-13% of the declared income. One declared approx. $1000, and their monthly fee was set at $120. Another said their fee was $56, also on approx. $1000. Not everyone had their living expenses taken into the equation. You won't know what the CAJA fee/percentage will be if you wish to apply directly, unless you go to ARCR and pay 10%.
For those who have not yet applied to CAJA, realize that the amount of your declared pension WILL be on your 'Resolución' that you receive from immigration saying that your Residency application has been approved.
- Not sure where all this is coming from. I recently joined the Caja and was assessed a fee of 7% of my Social Security income. Seems pretty reasonable to me, compared to what I would be paying it the States for Medicare.
"The catch twenty-two according to a lawyer I consulted here in Grecia two weeks ago was is that the CAJA might not let my lawyer in the room with me because I am not married to her."
This statement is completely false. I took a good friend, who speaks fluent Spanish, and she was allowed to accompany me every step of the way.
"In January when I go for my Cedula appointment it will mean that I am unable to pay my CAJA for two months."
If you do not pay your Caja for two months then you may as well skip the Cedula appointment, as you have to show proof that you are current with the Caja.
"They are accessing the full amount from which there is no appeal possible once your assessment is set by the CAJA."
Once again this is not actually true. I know of individuals who were able to go to the Caja office, ask to speak to a supervisor, and get their fees reduced after explaining their hardship. You just need to NOT act like an Ugly American, be polite, humble, and appeal to their sense of justice.
-- Jim Cottone American Professional Photographer https://singbiker.net
The problem is, is that there are no 'hard & fast' rules, and when you apply, it totally depends on what YOUR CAJA worker, decides YOU should pay.
It seems that once you have become a permanent resident, then you can apply for a lower rate...maybe.
joined the Caja and was assessed a fee of 7% of my Social Security income. Seems pretty reasonable to me, compared to what I would be paying it the States for Medicare.> Not sure where all this is coming from. I recently
That's because you're new to residency in Costa Rica and comparing apples and oranges (CR vs US). The people who have been voicing opinions have been here for long enough to compare CR to CR and are maybe not equipped to absorb the rapidly increasing CAJA cost in their budget. I have a senior friend living only on his Social Security and this makes a huge % difference in his free money.
For myself, my family's CAJA fee have roughly doubled since I signed up through ARCR 3 years ago. I have not lived in the US for 14 years so I don't care what it costs there, I care about the accelerating trend of fee increases that the OP also commented on.
> This statement is completely false. I took a good friend, whospeaks fluent Spanish, and she was allowed to accompany me every step of the way.
It's not "completely" false. I'm preetttty suuure he said "MIGHT not let lawyer in the room" and given how variable and subjective government administration is it's not hard to imagine that happening for some. Here in Costa Rica what is required or allowed depends so much on which clerk is in front of you and what mood they're in today.
- Being polite, humble & appealing to their sense of fairness - Jim, I couldn't agree more. And it has worked in almost all dealings I've had here. It helps, of course, if you actually feel that way.
I am not a resident or pensionado BUT... It is very true that your monthly fee will be almost a "whim" of the person in the Caja that you are dealing with. For Pensionados and Residents requiring a monthly income to qualify, your paperwork will be the guide for the Caja Calculation. That is why, at least up until now, the ARCR was the preferred route for those wanting to keep their monthly fee "reasonable" as the ARCR "negotiated" with the CCSS for a one=size=fits=all rate and that was in the days of $49 per month (plus the annual fee for ARCR membership) Were the unsuspecting Pensionado to walk into the Caja with translator, it is MOST likely that you would get the at-least-$250 treatment. Considering that any ol' CR worker pays from HIS wages, 9.9% and the employer kicks in another 24.5% each month to the Caja, you might be wanting to thank your lucky stars that you don't have to pay all that! The Caja is one of the Biggest gossip centers in CR so if you really want to deal with them and forget the ARCR, you need an inside contact to steer you to the "right person" or you will surely get 10 or 12 percented for sure. Some have been lucky and found the ignorant clerk that will deduct your rent, food, car expenses, etc. before applying the 10-12% but that is not only risky but may get overturned in process. Were I a Republican immigrant of Pen or Res status, I would just join the ARCR and pay the $89 or whatever it is. Otherwise the risk of the $150-$250+ monthly fee goes way up. Now if you are not a Republican, maybe you might want to consider citizenship and acquire an additional passport, cedula and nationality....Then when you apply for Voluntary Afiliation at the Caja, you might find that the $16/month fee is quite acceptable for Medical Coverage. After all, and I am sure that the Caja didn't tell you, that if they think you don't have at least 490 months to live, they only sign you up for the Medical Coverage and not the IMV Pension Plan as you will never live long enough to collect it or the Presidency will borrow it all to pay off OAS and Crucitas and then nobody will get a pension except the "commissionistas". Bottom line, go with the ARCR as that is still the best deal in town.
For my income which is only Social Security, I can't afford to pay ARCR the $15.00 per quarter and then the $89.00 monthly assessment for a monthly CAJA payment 53,548 colonies per month.
When I took the ARCR seminar last October, they were still in negotiations with the CAJA for a new agreement. I never heard or asked either, how much the management fees would be. Now I know it is purely an economic decision that I need to the $89.00 for myself and my dog so we can continue to eat.
Thus far, including my immigration process, the ARCR has done me well as a single person. I probably could have found somebody else to do my immigration but I didn't know where to turn for that information. So my main source for my ongoing information of how to process my immigration was through ARCR.
They were kind enough to me to review my documents for the application before I arrived for the seminar mentioned above. Then they were also willing to wait three weeks after I returned to the States for my full payment for my immigration package to go forward.
I am certain that when I go with them for my Cedula in January that they will still be offering good customer service to myself. What makes me sad is that in the past 9 years I have not thought about or considered how expensive Costa Rica was becoming. Since I was working I had funds on my yearly trip to accommodate the increase I was seeing here.
Now that I am here, having to give up the ARCR because of costs is upsetting to say the least. But I can't afford the nearly 10% of my year Social Security payout to pay to them. I need to learn to do this for myself and find people locally who can help for a much lesser fee then my month fee assessment from them.
ARCR is not perfect, but I do get sick and tired of people who complaint about them when after I ask, they have not been a member. I know this is what many of Americans like to do about many things in the world, but when I went to the ARCR seminar the people they brought were both informative and helpful. It was obviously some would always have much more money then I would have to live on Costa Rica. But yet, the presenters were helpful in many ways that in all this process of moving here in September, their information served me well.
Now I will shut and say nothing more about my original post here. But what has been missed in my original post is my grief for the things I did not pay attention to as I have just now stated. Now I am over the grief, so I can move on to enjoying a simpler life, the weights I have lost in the three months here tells me in spades that I was certainly killing myself prematurely with the stress of the last five years of my working life if not sooner.
La Casa de Sapo Triste
San Francisco de Grecia
- Some of the posts about the CAJA fees make me wonder if some people are
listed by the CAJA as actively employed or employable, and are paying
into the pension fund as well as health care.
I don't know how to check it, but if i were paying some of the highest
rates quoted here, i would find out.
If you are under 55 the rates are higher, you are paying into the pension fund
Don't know about how the other other fees are determined. Flip of the coin...?
- We joined ARCR. Our family is all under age 55, so our only option for residency is rentista status with proceeds from liquidating our stuff from the US. For all three of us, ARCR quoted our CAJA to be $431 per month. That’s far more than we pay per month for good to excellent insurance in the US. Of course, that’s cost-prohibitive for us even applying. (We would love the $250 figure.)
We are here with pension residency, based on my husbands age. He pays for CAJA covering us both, as head of household. Will I be able to collect Costa Rica pension, as I was younger than fifty when he started paying into to CAJA?
That is correct, that they are not accepting new members into the 'group plan' but they will still apply on your behalf, as an individual.
- --- In CostaRicaLiving@yahoogroups.com, John French <johnff@...> wrote: Some of the posts about the CAJA fees make me wonder if some people are listed by the CAJA as actively employed or employable, and are paying into the pension fund as well as health care. I don't know how to check it, but if i were paying some of the highest rates quoted here, i would find out.
>You should check the details of your monthly payment receipt. If you are a pensioner and paying a quote of IVM, you should contact your Caja office and have this taken off.
- It does occur to me that ARCR is in the best position, although not exclusively, to bargain for and on behalf of the ex pat community with regard to caja and retirement funds. It seems to me that there is a deal to be made that is beneficial to both parties.
- I suspect that when you apply for CAJA and you are of employable age - you automatically pay into the pension part too. It really ups the monthly cuota. After I had such a difficult time trying to renew my "dependiente" carne, I decided to go out and get my own - and the question came up about paying the pension part. I told them that I was well over 65, that we had never paid into that part and did not want to do so now.
I 'heard', that is 10-13% based on the minimum of the required investment ... as they considered it an investment that will be actually earning interest or a salary for you, whether it be a house or working business, but can't say for sure. Please, let us know what you find out.