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The age at which a National Social Security Authority retirement pension can be claimed varies between 55 and 65 but is the same for both men and women.

It tends to be taken for granted by most people that following independence measures were adopted to ensure that men and women are treated equally, in line with both the new and old Constitution that was adopted at independence, which stipulate that there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender.

That was not the case before independence, where there was job discrimination on the basis of gender as well as race.

It was also uncommon for men and women to be paid different salaries yet they will be doing the same job.

It was somewhat surprising, therefore, to receive a question from one correspondent, who asked whether it was true that women qualify for pension at the age of 55.

The earliest retirement age for a NSSA pension is normally 60, except where a person has been employed in a job categorised as arduous.

In some countries there is a difference in the retirement age and pensionable age of men and women. In the United Kingdom, for instance, up until 2010 women could claim their state pension at 60, whereas men had to wait until they were 65 for their pension.

There is still a difference in the pensionable age for men and women in the United Kingdom but efforts are underway to eliminate this difference, so that by November 2018 the retirement age for women, as well as men, will be 65.

Thereafter there are plans to increase the retirement age equally for both men and women, so that by October 2020 it will be 66 for both. By no later than 2046 and possibly much earlier, the retirement age for both men and women is due to rise to 68.

With the NSSA pension scheme having only come into effect in October 1994, the pensionable age has always been the same for men and women. Men and women who remain in employment after the age of 60 continue to make pension fund contributions.

They only become eligible for their pension and stop making contributions at age 65 or when they retire and stop working, whichever comes sooner.

The early retirement age of 55 only applies to those who have been employed for at least seven of the previous 10 years in a job categorised as arduous, such as agricultural work, heavy truck driving, quarrying and some forestry and mining jobs.

Preliminary results of the population census carried out in August 2012 show that Zimbabwe’s population stands at almost 13 million people. Of this population, 6,7 million are female while 6,3 million are male.

It is believed that women who reach old age tend to live more years in retirement than men. There is therefore a greater likelihood of their exhausting their savings during their retirement, making social security particularly important for them.

Just as there is no difference in the age at which men and women become eligible for a retirement pension, there is no difference either in the contribution rate or benefits for men and women.

Benefits are determined solely by the contribution period and the contributor’s insurable earnings prior to the contributor or hisher dependants becoming eligible for the benefit. This applies to both men and women.

Those with identical insurable earnings at retirement and identical contribution histories should receive the same benefit, regardless of whether they are men or women.

Differences in pensions received by different pensioners is attributable solely to differences in either their insurable earnings at retirement or contribution period.

The contribution rate for everyone in formal employment earning up to $700 a month is 3,5 percent of basic earnings. For those earning more than $700 the contribution is 3,5 percent of $700. The employer pays the same amount as each employee.

Source : The Herald