Home » Governance » NSSA Urges Pensioners to Submit Life Certificates

A number of readers of this column and listeners of our radio programme have expressed concern that they have not received their pension since May.

The most likely reason for this is that they have not submitted life certificates. Pensioners were asked last October to complete a life certificate, which was obtainable from NSSA offices and post offices, and submit it to NSSA by the end of December.

Life certificates have to be submitted in person at a NSSA office by the pensioner along with a photocopy of his or her national identity card.

The main purpose is for NSSA to be satisfied that the pensioner is still alive. If no certificate is received, then the person is presumed to be dead, unless a certificate is subsequently received.

NSSA continued to accept life certificates well after the end of the December deadline. Earlier this year it warned that those who had not submitted life certificates before the April payroll was done were likely to have their pensions suspended. It only finally stopped the pension payments in May of those who had not submitted life certificates.

Those who have stopped receiving their pension for this reason should obtain from NSSA a life certificate.

They should complete it and hand it in at a NSSA office as soon as possible, along with a photocopy of their identification document. They should do this as soon as possible, so that their pension can be restored.

Time should be allowed for the life certificate to be processed and for the pension payment to be restored. Payments will be backdated to when the pension payment stopped.

Those who submitted their life certificate in good time, especially those who submitted it last year, should, if they are no longer receiving their pension, contact their nearest NSSA office.

A contract worker wrote that he was contributing to NSSA each month. He asked whether he would be able to obtain pension funds when he retired.

A policeman wrote that he had retired on pension at the end of March last year at the age of 46 after serving for 21 years. He asked how he benefits from NSSA.

Another person wrote that he had contributed to NSSA from 1994 until June 2012, when the company he was working for closed down. “Till now I am not working so am I not entitled to my benefits? If so what must I do?” He asked.

The response to all three is essentially the same. Anyone who has contributed to NSSA for at least 12 months is entitled to a retirement benefit but only when the person is not only retired but has reached the normal retirement age of 60 or, in the case of those who qualify for early retirement due to the arduous nature of their work, 55.

Those who have reached the age of 65 are eligible for their retirement benefit whether they are retired or not.

The early retirement age of 55 only applies to those who retire at that age if they were engaged for at least seven of the previous 10 years in a category of employment classified by NSSA as arduous, such as agricultural work, heavy truck driving, quarrying and some mining and forestry jobs.

Whether the retirement benefit is a pension or a lump sum grant depends on how long pension contributions were made for.

A monthly pension is paid if contributions were paid for at least 120 months. If the contribution was less than that but not less than 12 months, a lump sum grant is paid instead of a pension.

The person who contributed to the pension scheme continuously from 1994 to 2012 would be entitled to a pension when he reaches the age of 60, if he is still unemployed at that age.

The policeman, presuming he contributed to NSSA for at least 10 years would also be eligible for a NSSA pension but only when he reaches the age of 60, if unemployed at that age, or, if he is employed at age 60, when he retires after that age or when he reaches the age of 65 whether still employed or not.

Since he is only 47, he could work in another job within the formal sector for another 13 years or more before claiming his NSSA pension.

This would enable him to increase further his contribution period and probably his insurable earnings, potentially increasing the value of his pension, since the size of the pension depends on the number of contribution years and the person’s insurable income at retirement.

Likewise the person whose company closed down in 2012 could, if he still has some years to go before he reaches the age of 60, look for another job. If it is within the formal sector, he would contribute once more to NSSA, so increasing his contribution period and probably his insurable earnings, which are the two factors that affect the size of a person’s pension.

The insurable earnings figure that is used, together with the contribution period, in determining the amount that is paid as a pension, is the person’s insurable earnings in the last job in which he or she was contributing to the national pension scheme.

Up until the end of May last year, there was a maximum insurable earnings limit in place of $200 per month.

That means that, even if they were earning more than $200 a month, the insurable earnings of those who left their jobs prior to that would have been no more than $200.

If they do not make any further contributions to NSSA between then and the time they reach the NSSA retirement age, their pension will be calculated on the basis of insurable earnings of no more than $200.

However, the maximum monthly insurable earnings limit went up in June 2013 to $700. It is to be expected that by the time someone who is now 47 retires at age 60 or more this limit will have been increased further.

Obtaining new formal sector employment, which would mean once more contributing to the national pension scheme, would thus increase one’s contribution period and insurable earnings and hence the size of one’s pension.

The contract worker who contributes monthly to NSSA will be entitled to a retirement benefit if, when he reaches the stipulated retirement age, he has contributed for at least 12 months.

Whether it is a pension or grant will depend on whether or not he has contributed for 10 years or more.

If he has contributed for less than 12 months by the time he reaches the age at which a retirement benefit can be claimed, then no benefit will be payable but his contributions will be refundable with interest.

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 6.50pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and Friday on National FM. 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, 706545 9, or 7990301.

Source : The Herald