Adonis Diaries

My first retirement check: the story of this interminable process

Posted on: January 14, 2017

My first retirement check: the story of this interminable process.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017. A good day for me.

My first monthly retirement check is barely $900, but worth years of frustration and determination Not to be intimidated by rumors and be bilked from this entitlement.

It is raining cats and dogs and I wore my Macintosh (overcoat) and carried an umbrella. Half an hour later, it is sunny and I look ridiculous.

I got a ride with my niece working in Hamra and stepped down in Dawra to take a bus to Jisr Al Cola, at a walking distance to the headquarter of the Lebanese Order of Engineers.

For almost 10 months after I applied for retirement, and after doggedly proceeded with the process that was basically meant to dissuade me and delay the date of the first payment, Nabil Batal gave me a new matriculation number for retired engineer. I will have to check with the Order twice a year, just for them to verify that I am still alive and kicking.

The new number suggests that half the engineers entitled for retirement didn’t apply. Either they died prematurely, or withdrew from this Order, or they figured out that the retirement check is Not worth all that trouble and having to pay in cash what the order will demand them to pay before proceeding with the process.

I was to deal only with Bank Med (Mediterranean), otherwise, I will have to wait 6 months for each payment. Actually, this bank does Not open a checking account for the retirees. They give you a debit card to retrieve whatever cash you need at the end of each month. You can also use this card for purchases up to $1,000 each month.

Interesting question: Why do I have to open a checking account with another bank and withdraw money to deposit it in that account?

Finally, I saw the glimmer of a light at the end of this tunnel. I used to say after each phase in the process: Don’t raise your hope prematurely “ma t2oul foul abel ma yesour bil makyoul“. Here are the stages I went through:

Stage One:  I officially submitted my application for retirement with the necessary documents. Many engineers tried to dissuade me to the contrary on assumptions based on rumors. I submitted a fresh family register (wathicat 3aa2elat)  and a CV for the last 15 years.

Basically, the CV is to mentions the companies and jobs I had during that period for the Order to estimate my total income. In the final analysis, what interest the Order is an official document from your last job that you are no longer working.

Actually, the Order assumes that every engineer is a liar and never claims his exact income. Thus, the Order adds LL 500,000 for every year in the last 15 years to be paid before reviewing the retirement application (bara2et zemmeh).

Consequently, whether you are one of the rare law abiding engineer or you have not worked for the last 15 years, you have got to pay this minimum sum, in addition to whatever investigation proved you owe them. (That’s what the lead accountant told me)

Since I arrived in Lebanon in 2000, the only job I got was a part-time instructor at a university. It was the only institution that had a department of Industrial Engineer and they had to offer courses in Human Factors in Engineering.

I wrote extensively on this teaching experience and had the opportunity to post about 50 articles in the category of Human Factors.

Every year, at due time to pay my contribution and for my health insurance, employees at the Order would never believe that what I declared was my yearly income, far below average, but I had to pay the minimum expected from an engineer.

After a younger engineer (friend with the staff professors) was hired as a full-time teacher, I had to borrow money for 2 consecutive years to pay my yearly dues. And then I stopped paying for 6 years, and lived without any health coverage.

Yet, when I resumed paying my dues, the Order insisted to pay the usual amount, in addition to penalties. And in cash.

Stage 2: Mr. Batal is the appointment person to handle retirement applications at headquarter. He told me that I should Not expect a phone call before at least 6 months. Why? They don’t investigate: they don’t have the resources to have an investigative department (that’s what they told me). So why this delay? Most probably to break any determination to proceed with the application and to delay payments, the longer the better.

Stage 3: After a long wait, finally a secretary called me up and said that I will have to come up with $2,250 in cash before the process resumes.

The accountant Khoury estimated that amount must be coughed up and that I have no other recourse. I met with him and he was plain: the longer you delay this payment, the longer the first payment will be delayed and you will be losing many months in retirement checks.

The Order executive council meet twice a month and decides on the retirement date. Kind of if you missed their meeting, you miss more retirement checks.

Stage 4. My job was now how to borrow that enormous sum before the executive meet in order Not to lose more checks. I knocked at many doors of well-to-do relatives at no avail. One relative agreed to lend me $1,500. Luckily, mother had managed to save the remaining amount.

Stage 5. I paid my highway robbery “dept” in cash and had to go through a dozen employees for them to appose their signatures for reviewing the requirements and do copies. I had to wait for a few of them to arrive to work or come back from appointments.

Stage 6. The executive council failed to meet for over 2 months to add my name to the roster (jadwal) of retired engineers.

Stage 7. I had to wait another month for Batal to ask me to come to his office to give me instructions on how to receive my first retirement check

Stage 8. I walked to BankMed, half a mile away, and had to ask directions a couple of times and backtrack. It started raining. After I finished with the paperwork at the bank, and got my debit card, I withdrew all the money. I had to stop a taxi to take me to Jisr al Coka, a mile away.

That’s my story for the moment.

Now I will have to tell it to engineers who are entitled for retirement and are plagued with untenable rumors.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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