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Maybe one of our other Forums members has first-hand knowledge of how CAJA applies deduction and for what and can add some further insight to this thread.

 

Regards,

 

Paul M.

==

 

I cannot guarantee how CAJA will handle each case but I have personally navigated through their system to affiliate.

 

 

Although I am personally not a member of ARCR I recognize that membership is a good deal for most expats and I do recommend to most that they join. Especially when it comes to the obligatory affiliation of CAJA I think perhaps 95% of the North American residents would be well served to sign up with ARCR for the $45 per month CAJA group discount.

 

 

If you have an income of even just $1000 then you are better off joining the ARCR. I have done everything on my own (including residency and naturalization) but that is more personal preference and in addition I am married to a Tica which gives me an edge compared to most expats in navigating the various governmental hazards.

 

 

For the average expat there are only two ways to join CAJA. Either by filling out the formulario voluntario (voluntary form) and walking into CAJA to submit your form and paying CAJA directly a percentage of your income (or imputed/assumed income), or by joining through ARCR. Any employee by the way is signed up by their employers’ who must make a deduction from their pay, add to it and then forward it all on to CAJA. The vast majority of CAJA revenues come from Costa Rican employees and their employers.

 

 

Regarding the fees for the voluntario, it is 5.5% of your income if you are over 55 and 11.5% if you are under 55. So you can see that even at the minimum pensionado rate of $1000 you’d be paying $55 (which is more than you’d pay through ARCR). In addition, joining directly can be kind of a crap shoot as to how much they will actually charge. In the case of Retistas and Pensionados (Temporary Residents) they pretty much have you pegged. You will be asked for your bank receipts as a minimum and they are not going to let a pensionado off the hook for less than $55 unless you came in under the old law with a $600 pension and can prove it.

 

 

The confusion and gray area comes in with RP (Residentes Permanentes) because now you can have no official income. You don’t even need to have a bank in Costa Rica. Of course you have expenses. So you list all of your expenses. CAJA really hasn’t made up their mind in any consistent official way as to how to handle this quandary. In some cases they will just charge you a percentage of your expenses, and in other cases they will charge you some minimum imputed/assumed figure less than your true expenses. In other words they will assign you a minimum income (ingreso) of something less than your expenses and you will then pay a percentage (5.5% or 11.5%) of that amount.

 

 

If you are a permanent resident and don’t like the amount you’ve been assigned you can stop the interview and walk out. You then have two options. Go over to ARCR for a better rate or try through the CAJA again later but with a different clerk.

 

 

Regarding the difference in the percentage (5.5% or 11.5%) based on age (55), the additional 6% for those under 55 goes to CAJA, but to the IVM within CAJA which is the pension department. To my knowledge you cannot sign up for just the pension. In other words you cannot get the pension benefit without paying for the healthcare part first. If you do pay for both parts (healthcare and pension) you would be eligible for a (relatively small compared to U.S. standards) reduced pension at age 65 and after paying at least 15 years into both systems.

 

 

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I agree that membership in ARCR can be a worthwhile thing - especially for those living in the Central Valley. For those living in more remote areas, the value is questionable. I was a member of ARCR and they handled my original cedula application and I am glad that I did it through them. But after that, and living a long way from the Central Valley, ongoing membership just didn't seem like something I needed to do.

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I’m not trying to promote or detract from joining ARCR here. I’m just adding up the numbers with the various options regarding CAJA affiliation. And I have no interest either way. In the interest of full disclosure I am personally not a member.

 

 

It is worthwhile to join ARCR if only for the savings on the obligatory CAJA affiliation for almost all new Rentistas and Pensionados (temporary residents). After three years of residency and one decides to become an RP (Residente Permanente) it then depends on your income (if any) and expenses as noted in my earlier post and whether one gets a better deal from CAJA directly or through the ARCR group discount of $45.

 

 

A Rentista or Pensionado is required to have a documented income (ingreso) an RP is not required to have anything nor prove anything.

 

 

Speaking strictly from a CAJA affiliation perspective, regardless of one’s location, if one is getting a cheaper rate directly with CAJA and is a permanent resident (or pensionado at the $600 rate under the old law), then in that case it would not make financial sense to join ARCR. But I understand that many join and continue membership for other reasons.

 

 

 

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Expat99: My CAJA payment is 8300 colones a month so really it would not benefit me. When I joined, the lady in the CAJA office didn't ask me for any proof of any income. I had the papers in my backpack, but never dragged them out. (Of course, anytime I go somewhere like this, I take a copy of everything I can think of.)

 

CRF: You have a good point. If someone's Spanish is poor and they don't have a Costa Rican friend who will go with them, it is an advantage to use ARCR for several things, including driver's license. However, if someone's Spanish is poor and they don't have a Costa Rican friend that will go with them.... how sad! Fix both of these, please!

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For a newcomer going with ARCR is especially beneficial if you have no Spanish!

I have just joined ARCR for that exact reason of having no Spanish. I think this will be an advantage for drivers license & obtaining residency. Thanks

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okay,so they say for a small fee based on what you make for the national health system. Do you know about how much per say? So is the private health real expensive? Trying to get some questions answered before we acually commit to moving there. Theres so much more involved than we thought,but learning alot from great people. I'm so gratefull for all the info guys.

 

Others have answered re CAJA. As far as the private INS (for now) is concerned, in our case, it cost us about what one month premium in the USA would have cost, for a full year coverage for BOTH of us. Or about $2000 a year.

 

Dana

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Expat99: My CAJA payment is 8300 colones a month so really it would not benefit me. When I joined, the lady in the CAJA office didn't ask me for any proof of any income. I had the papers in my backpack, but never dragged them out. (Of course, anytime I go somewhere like this, I take a copy of everything I can think of.)

 

CRF: You have a good point. If someone's Spanish is poor and they don't have a Costa Rican friend who will go with them, it is an advantage to use ARCR for several things, including driver's license. However, if someone's Spanish is poor and they don't have a Costa Rican friend that will go with them.... how sad! Fix both of these, please!

 

 

Yes, you got a good deal, congratulations. If my earlier calculations are correct they assigned your income at 150,000 colons. 8,300 is approximately 5.5% of 150,000.

 

 

If you are still a pensionado resident (under the old income minimum of approximately 300,000 colones) and not yet a permanent resident, they cut your income at least in half to 150,000. And the fact they didn’t ask for an income is a doubly super deal.

 

 

But if you are a permanent resident then that’s a different story because permanent residents are not required to have an income nor produce any documentation regarding income.

 

 

On an earlier thread a new resident was asked to fork over 225,000 per month! He went to ARCR for the $45 option.

 

 

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We are paying similar to eleanorcr after applying on our own and neither were we asked for any paperwork pertaining to an income.

But for many it pays to pay ARCR fees especially that the required pensions and $$$$ deposited for Rentista is higher.

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CRF - agree with you totally - was just trying to present another viewpoint.

 

Of course, this will probably mean that I will get another PM that says I am SO negative and how can I LIVE with myself and why am I so UNHAPPY. Sheesh.

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Eleanorcr and CF, I'm curious to know if you are permanent residents or not (regarding your affiliation with the CAJA), and if you have applied for the CAJA recently since March or April.

Edited by expat99

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Eleanorcr and CF, I'm curious to know if you are permanent residents or not (regarding your affiliation with the CAJA), and if you have applied for the CAJA recently since March or April.

 

I have been a permanent resident based on my marriage to a TIKA since June, 2008 and just before I renewed my Cedula last June I signed-up with the CAJA(Costa Rican Medical Coverage) through the ARCR even though I have OUTSTANDING Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health Plan coverage which has taken care of my past medical needs here in Costa Rica. My medical needs are now covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield(was part of my retirement benefits), Medicare and now the CAJA.I also registered my name at this time with the US Consulate. At my appointment the Migracion employee did not ask to see my proof of CAJA affiliation or if I was registered with my Consulate, however, I was prepared to present this if they had asked. As stated before in this forum it is better to BE PREPARED to respond quickly and positively on any question at these Migracion appointments. My Cedula was renewed for two more years and will expire in June 2012.

 

I wonder if Ryan Piercy of the ARCR has received any volunteers from this Forum to be READY TO test the waters on challenging this new CAJA requirement since many of us are "Grandfathered" under the former Migracion law which did not have this requirement?? As you can see by the actions that I have taken above, I have no interest in being this test case!

 

Now Expat99; are you now presently a member of the CAJA OR if and when you are "NATURALIZED" by Costa Rica it will get you off-the-hook on the CAJA requirement??

Edited by tibas9

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expat99 although we have lived here full time for nearly 10 years, we are still Rentistas and will apply next April for Permanent status. We first applied 9 years ago, and it took a long time for us to gain this status, due to a crooked lawyer and a long wait with a good one plus lost papers at migracion.

We applied and signed up for CAJA as mentioned by ourselves as soon as we obtained our cedulas, over 2 years ago although it wasn't a requirement then.

I think that this was the right move by the Costa Rican government to make CCSS compulsory.

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