Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSMSSA Conducts Disability Conference

Palikir, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services): September 18, 2009 - On August 26, 2009, the FSM Social Security Administration conducted a disability workshop in Chuuk. The workshop took place at High Tide Hotel at two o'clock in the afternoon. Joining the conference with the FSMSS Administrator Alexander R. Narruhn and his staff was the disability examiner for the FSMSSA, John Vanderburgh.

Opening the workshop, Administrator Alexander R. Narruhn welcomed the participants which included the Deputy Director of the Chuuk State Department of Health Abraham Ichin, doctors from the Chuuk State Hospital and representatives from Micronesian Legal Services Corporation.

He said that the FSMSSA had organized the workshop to "facilitate and establish dialogue between the FSMSSA and the various organizations and entities that dealt with disability to foster a more streamlined and comprehensive environment for prospective disability applicants".

A presentation on disability benefits and the requirements placed upon applicants was done by the Claim Officer Francky Ilai which was followed by a Q & A session.

Among the issues that were raised, interest and confusion in equal measures were directed at the definition of disability. The definition of disability according to Title 53 of the FSM Code is "the inability to engage in any substantial gainful employment by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months".

The Administrator explained that the FSM and in extension, the FSMSSA, did not have a definition for "substantial gainful employment". The FSMSSA viewed substantial gainful employment as any work that nets an individual wages, be it as a lawyer or as a domestic worker.

One other major issue raised concerned the problem of doctors doing examinations for individuals who were not residing on Weno, the main island. The gathered doctors asked the FSMSSA to facilitate a means of covering expenses incurred such as fuel when doctors visited the islands to conduct examinations specifically for disability claimants. They claimed that all such expenses were being taken care of by themselves since the state did not offer reimbursement for such tasks. The administrator conceded that it was a valid concern and one that the FSMSSA would certainly look into.

The workshop was an unprecedented one and the administrator expressed hopes of conducting one in each of the other states to better equip the health care system of the nation in dealing with disability claimants.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356