A contributor to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA)’s Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme, who has become permanently incapable of working due to a physical or mental illness, disability or injury, can claim an invalidity benefit.
An invalidity pension is payable where a qualifying claimant has contributed to the NSSA pension and other benefits scheme for at least 12 months. An invalidity grant is payable where the claimant has contributed for less than 12 months, but more than six months.
The benefit is only payable to those aged below 60 years who are permanently incapable of working.
To be eligible for this benefit, it is not sufficient to have become disabled or incapable of retaining the same job one had been working in as a result of a disability or illness. The disability or illness must have rendered the contributor permanently incapable of performing any type of work.
The reader who asked whether, having been on an invalidity pension since 2003 and been gainfully employed and contributing to the NSSA pension scheme since February 2006, he/she could expect an increase in the invalidity pension, will no doubt be disappointed to know that he/she should not be receiving a NSSA pension and other benefits scheme invalidity pension at all.
The law allows NSSA to review such cases. In the event it is proved an invalidity pensioner can now perform some works his or her pension is stopped forthwith.
The invalidity pension is intended only for those who are incapable of working, as a result of a physical or mental disability or illness. If an invalidity pensioner resumes gainful employment it means he/she is not permanently incapable of working and thus no longer eligible for the pension.
The reader, who is aged 58, should advise NSSA that he/she is working and so no longer in need of the invalidity pension.
On reaching 60 years of age, a retirement benefit can be claimed if the contributor is no longer working. If still in gainful employment at 60, the contributor can continue working and contributing until the age of 65, at which time contributions should cease and the pension be claimed.
A retirement pension is higher than an invalidity pension. Whether the reader concerned will be eligible for a retirement pension or retirement grant will depend on whether or not he or she has contributed to the scheme for at least 120 months.
A contributor applying for invalidity pension must satisfy NSSA he or she is permanently incapable of working.
Having been retired on medical grounds by one’s employer does not automatically qualify one for NSSA invalidity pension. One has to satisfy the condition of being permanently incapable of work under the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme in order to qualify for invalidity pension.
In addition to submitting to NSSA the NSSA P9/10 form, duly completed by the contributor and employer, along with proof of identity, the claimant must submit a NSSA P11 form duly completed by a doctor.
The claim should be submitted within 12 months of the invalidity, where the claimant is eligible for an invalidity pension. In the case of an invalidity grant, the claim application should be submitted within five years of the invalidity.
The claimant may need to appear before a NSSA medical board and be required to undergo a medical examination by a NSSA appointed doctor.
It can sometimes be difficult even for medical specialists to be sure whether or not a disability or illness will permanently prevent a person from engaging in gainful employment. Miraculous or unexpected recoveries can occur.
If the condition of a person judged permanently incapable of working and awarded an invalidity pension on that basis subsequently improves sufficiently to enable him or her to work, then he or she should inform NSSA when resuming employment, since the pension is intended for those permanently unable to work because of their physical or mental condition.
Invalidity may arise from a work-related injury, in which case the individual may, in addition to receiving an invalidity benefit under the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme, if permanently unable to work, be able to receive a disability pension from the Worker’s Compensation Insurance Fund (WCIF).
The disability pension paid by the WCIF, in the event of a disability being due to an accident at work, differs from the invalidity pension paid under the Pensions and Other Benefits invalidity scheme.
With the WCIF scheme, if the disability is assessed at more than 30%, then compensation is paid in the form of a pension, which includes an allowance for the employee’s children up to the age of 19. If it is assessed at less than 30% then a lump sum compensation amount will be paid.
NSSA provides constant attendants to assist paraplegics, quadraplegics and other seriously disabled workers whose disability is due to a work-related accident.
The invalidity and disability benefits of the two schemes are different because of the schemes’ different natures and objectives.
The WCIF is a workers’ insurance scheme to which only employers contribute that is designed to provide compensation to workers who are seriously injured in the course of their work.
The Pension and Other Benefits Scheme is designed primarily to pay retirement pensions to those who, together with their employers, have contributed to the scheme throughout their working lives.
The retirement pension is normally payable at age 60, or, if the contributor is still fit and able to continue working after that age, at age 65. For those working in certain jobs that have been categorised as arduous, the retirement age is 55.
Those who are unable to continue working because of a disability or illness that has permanently incapacitated them are entitled to an invalidity pension or grant, depending on their contribution period, which must be at least six months, because they are unable to continue working and contributing to the scheme until the normal retirement age.
They have been forced into an early retirement by their medical condition and have no foreseeable prospects of engaging in any income generating work, whether through employment or a business venture of their own.
If their situation changes and they become capable of working, they should ask NSSA to discontinue the invalidity pension. They can resume, if in formal employment, making NSSA pension scheme contributions, the benefit of which they will receive when they reach the normal retirement age.
Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. Readers can email issues they would like dealt with in this column to email@example.com or text them to 0735 041 278. Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 706517-8 or 706523 5.