Update on CAJA/Pension Premiums Issue


Last June (2022), I published a disturbing update article about CAJA. You can link to it here:

The “nut” of that article:

Anyone approved for legal residency in Costa Rica has always had to enroll in CAJA as a condition of residency. (Step 2 of 3 in the post-approval process). Until last March 15, 2022, that meant enrollment into the healthcare-only part of CAJA. 

Then things changed for the worse effective March 16, 2022. Anyone enrolling in CAJA on March 16, 2022, or after was forced to also enroll in the Costa Rica Pension plan. 

This effectively doubled CAJA’s monthly premiums. 

As a result, some outraged residency applicants canceled their applications and left Costa Rica for “greener pastures.” (Take note ICT).

The myopic group of congressmen and (defunct) pension fund administrators completely missed the easily predicted detrimental effect on Costa Rica’s brand as a highly desirable retirement destination. Never mind that it was also completely illegal.

About as poorly thought out as the architectural design of the main CAJA offices in San Jose. One of the ugliest buildings in downtown San Jose. Something that looks like five architects fought over, and then each being allowed his homely idea implanted on the final hodgepodge.

April 2, 2022 – One day before Election Day:

The day before the runoff election, I accompanied a close associate/friend to presidential candidate Chaves’s election headquarters in San Pedro. My outraged friend wanted to deliver a message directly to Chaves and asked if I would help with first-hand inside information about the troubling issues with the DGME (Department of Immigration). Chaves was understandably unavailable. We were diverted to one of Chaves’s top communications managers and given an attentive ear for over 30 minutes. Chief amongst the discussions about the Immigration process and rules, in general, was the mention of this outrageous new requirement for new migrants forced to pay into a national pension fund – something they would never collect. 

Not to mention that many were already pensioners who came or would soon come to Costa Rica to live off pensions they spent their entire working careers paying into. 

We were assured that the campaign was aware of this travesty and already had it on the hit list of things to look at post-election. But we were also cautioned that it would take several months to achieve this outcome of rescinding the CAJA Pension mandate (unlike lifting ineffective mask requirements within one hour of Chaves being inaugurated).

Since then, and very recently, there has been clear and written acknowledgment from CAJA management that this mandate is not legal and should never be applied to new CAJA enrollees (recently approved for residency.)

This update lacks the voluminous legal jargon that most of you would barely comprehend, so I have spared you the tedium. 

The bottom line is that, as I indicated in my previous article – based on that April 2 conversation with the Chaves election folks – it was only a matter of time before this unfair mandate would be undone.

So this begs the burning question for all of you who are paying these confiscatory monthly premiums: 

When exactly will this CAJA Pension enrollment requirement be rescinded? 

Nothing official has been announced as yet. But it will happen.

Likely after the completion of the current criminal investigation of five CAJA board of directors at the direction of President Chaves.


As for those expecting refunds – please don’t hold your breath. Costa Rica is still as broke as all the countries you came from.

A premium reduction of almost 50% is not quite a refund.

But it will do.

More meaningful information to follow when I have it.