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The National Pension Scheme’s Survivor’s Benefit is intended to make provision for the surviving spouse and minor children of a member of the scheme who dies, whether the member was a contributor or already a pensioner. The husband or wife of a deceased contributor or pensioner qualifies for this benefit, provided the member of the scheme has contributed to the scheme for at least 12 months and provided, in the case of the survivor’s pension, the marriage was not contracted after the pensioner’s retirement and the person did not cause the contributor’s or pensioner’s death.

If there are children under the age of 18 then a benefit is paid to them as well.

The idea is to provide support for the immediate family members who were dependant on the contributor or pensioner. That includes minor children. However, it also includes children who, though legally adult, are still dependant on their parents because they are still in full time education at a university or college, or because, due to a disability, they are incapable of supporting themselves. The Pension and Other Benefits Scheme therefore provides for the benefit that covers the children of a deceased contributor or pensioner to be paid in respect not only of children under the age of 18 but in respect of children older than that who are in full time education up to the age of 25 and for adult children who, regardless of age, are unable to support themselves due to a disability.

The children’s benefit is a single benefit that covers all children under the age of 18 and children in full time education up to the age of 25, as well as adult children incapable of work because of a physical or mental disability. There is not a separate benefit for each child.

Where contributions have been paid for 120 months or more the benefit is a monthly pension. Where contributions were paid for less than that then it is a lump sum grant.

The survivor’s pension is normally 40 percent of the pensioner’s pension or the pension that the contributor would have been entitled to had he or she qualified for it at the time of death.

That means that, where there is a spouse and there are dependent children, the family receives a pension equivalent to 80 percent of what the deceased person would have been entitled to, 40 percent for the spouse and 40 percent for the children.

However, the minimum survivor’s pension is $30, which is 50 percent of the minimum retirement pension of $60. That means that if the contributor or pensioner was entitled to the minimum pension, the spouse and children combined receive $60, which is the same as the pension the scheme member would have been entitled to.

A correspondent wrote to this column asking whether if a member died and there was no surviving spouse the benefit could be claimed by the children. The children would only be eligible for the benefit if they were under the age of 18 or in full time education and not older than 25 or any age but with a disability that prevented them from earning a living.

The benefit would be a survivor’s pension, if contributions had been made for at least 120 months, or a grant, if contributions had been paid for less than that but for at least 12 months.

The guardian of the children is the person who should apply for orphaned minor children. A certificate of guardianship is required along with the other documents.

Children over the age of 18 who are neither in full time education nor prevented by a disability from supporting themselves are not eligible for the benefit. The key factor with the survivor’s benefit is that it is payable to a dependant of the deceased person. The adult offspring of a contributor or pensioner is presumed to no longer be a dependant unless a disability or the continuance of full time education up to the age of 25 renders such a person a dependant.

If there is no surviving spouse and no children but there are other relatives, such as parents, who were dependent on the deceased contributor or pensioner, then such dependants can make a claim for the survivor’s benefit but they should be able to prove they were dependants and should ordinarily have been registered with NSSA as dependants by the contributor.

The documents required to apply for a survivor’s benefit are a P910 form duly completed and signed by the claimant and employer or his representative and date stamped by the employer, a certified copy of the death certificate, a certified copy of the claimant’s national identity card, driving licence or passport, marriage certificate or affidavit in the case of a widow or widower claiming, certified copies of the long birth certificates of children and, for those over 18, proof of attendance at an educational institution or proof of disability.

Pensions should be applied for within 12 months of the contributor’s death. They can be considered if submitted later but will, if approved, only be paid with effect from the date on which the claim is received by NSSA.

Grants should be applied for within five years. Normally grant applications will not be considered if more than five years have passed. For this year only, however, late grant claims are being considered even from those who previously had their claim dismissed due to lateness.

A funeral grant of $300 is payable to the person responsible for the funeral expenses.

Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. There is also a weekly radio programme on social security, PaMheponeNssaEmoyeni le NSSA, at 6.50 pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and Friday on National FM. There is another social security programme on Star FM on Wednesdays at 5.30 pm. Readers can e-mail issues they would like dealt with in this column to mail@mhpr.co.zw or text them to 0772-307913. Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 7065235, 7065459, or 7990301.

Source : The Herald

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