“Set up a pension? I’ll be long gone by then”

Published on: 14 May 2021

How do you deal with work and money for now and for the future? Do you live one day at a time, or are you diligently planning your financial future? And do you arrange ‘later’ yourself or are you participating in a pension fund?

Nazrien Ozir was declared fully disabled. She is not expecting to reach retirement age.


Nazrien Ozir (46)

Profession: none, formerly communications officer

Works per week: she doesn’t; she is disabled

Income: about 2,000 Euros in WIA benefits and disability pension

Savings: minimal; for emergencies

Pension organized? no


What kind of work did you used to do?

“I was a communications officer and executive secretary for the government. I worked for several ministries, such as Economic Affairs, Internal Affairs and Justice.”


How much did you make doing that?

“About 2,300 EUR net for 36 hours.”


Were you happy with that as a salary?

“Yes, absolutely. I could afford all luxuries. Through housing development, I rented a house for 300 EUR a month and had a lot of money left to do fun things with. Go out for meals, drinks, take trips. My motto has always been: enjoy life now. I would never save up all my money for the future. I don’t have a husband or kids, and who knows if there is a future for me? I have some savings for if the washing machine breaks down, but other than that, I spend all my money. None of it came to me easily. I did everything myself. Since the day my father died, when I was 13, I’ve been taking care of myself.  I made something of my life by financing two professional courses myself and completing them. But I also have to thank my mother, because she got remarried to my stepfather. Otherwise, we would never have come to the Netherlands, and I don’t know what would have happened to me if I had stayed in Suriname.”


You became disabled. What happened?

“It started with heart palpitations and panic attacks. I had no control over it. They were clear signs that I had to slow down, but I ignored them and kept going, even though I knew better. In 2010, I experienced burn-out, and I never fully recovered from that. At one point, my body just quit. I fainted in the street and could not get up. At that time, in 2016, I reported in sick. And I’ve been home ever since. I am physically exhausted. My battery is not empty; I need a whole new battery.”


When did you start receiving the WIA benefits?

“They went into effect after two years, in 2018. In 2020 I was declared fully disabled. Now I also get a portion of disability pension. I have always said I wanted to retire at age 50, but this is not exactly what I had in mind. I hoped I would have won the lottery by then or met a wealthy man. Not that I would be fully disabled.”


How much do you get every month?

“All together just over 2,000 EUR net.”


Is that enough?

“Just barely. I no longer always need more, bigger, nicer and better. I don’t compare myself to others; I live a good life and make do with what I have. I regret not taking out disability insurance sooner. I only did that when I was already unable to work. But you can’t insure a burning building, as the insurance agent said.”


How much are your regular expenses?

“All together about 750 EUR. Mortgage, VvE fees, energy, insurances, subscriptions; the standard things.”

What else do you spend money on?

“I have always spent a fair bit on vacations and eating out. I value experiences more than material things. I think that is because I was raised quite soberly, in semi-poverty. We never had a TV at home, for example. Some people will then want to show off the expensive things they could buy later when they do have money, but for me it has no added value. I only bought a modern TV in 2016; until that time, I had one of those old-fashioned ones. I don’t have much, but what I do have, I like to share as much as possible, with family and friends in Suriname. I send them money sometimes. What goes around, comes around.”


Are you thinking about old age?

“Absolutely not. I live one day at a time. By the time I would be eligible for my old age pension, I’ll be long gone. I am a Hindu from Suriname; we don’t live long lives. My father died when he was 44, his sister one year later, also at age 44, and my cousin died when she was 18. Within one year, they were all gone. My elder sister died in of a stroke in 2017 at age 51 and in my mother’s family, everyone also died, one after the next. Strokes, heart attacks, diabetes; these are common in our community. I only know two people over 80: a great-aunt and my mother’s cousin. That is why I’m sure I will not make it to 67.”


And what if you do make it?

“Suppose I live to be older than 67, then I would have to sell my house. I bought it for 125.000 EUR in 2016. But now it is worth twice that much. If I do live that long, I’d like to focus on good causes by then.”


Seems kind of sad that you don’t believe you will live to be old. Are you still happy though?

“Oh yes, it’s not all doom and gloom. Being sick has also given me freedom. And like Martin Luther King said: ‘There is nothing more important in the world than freedom. Freedom is worth making sacrifices for. It is worth losing your job over.’ I am free in the sense that I don’t have to justify myself anymore. I am never going to get better, but my illness has now been recognized and that gives me peace of mind. My life is good the way it is.”