When a NSSA pension fund contributor retires at age 60 or 65 or, in some cases 55, he or she should claim a retirement benefit by completing National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Claim Form P9/10 and submitting it to the nearest NSSA office.
Section D of the form should be completed by the claimant’s last employer, verifying the individual’s employment and monthly insurable earnings over the previous 12 months.
The claim should be submitted within 12 months of retirement if a retirement pension is being claimed. If a retirement pension claim is submitted after the date of retirement, but within one year of it, the general manager may allow backdating the pension to the date of retirement.
If a pension claim is submitted later than 12 months after the retirement date, then the pension will only be paid from the date on which the claim is submitted to NSSA.
The general manager will not consider any application to backdate the pension payment to the date of retirement, even on good cause, where the claim is submitted more than a year after the date of retirement.
No claims for grants submitted after five years of the retirement or death of an employee will be approved.
To qualify for a retirement pension a person must have reached retirement age and contributed to NSSA’s pension and other benefits scheme for at least 120 months.
Anyone who has reached retirement age and has contributed for less than 120 months, but more than 12 months, is eligible for a retirement grant, which is a once-off payment.
When submitting the P9/10 form a certified copy of the claimant’s identity card or valid Zimbabwean passport or driver’s licence should be attached.
The normal retirement age for claiming a NSSA pension or grant is 60, provided the claimant has retired and is no longer employed.
Those over 60 who are still in employment can continue contributing to the NSSA pension and other benefits scheme until age 65, when they should stop contributing and claim the retirement pension or grant whether or not they are still in employment.
A pension or grant may be payable to a contributor over the age of 55 who is no longer employed and has been engaged in employment classified as arduous by NSSA for at least seven of the 10 years prior to turning 55 years old.
Agricultural work, quarry work, certain mining activities, heavy truck driving and certain forestry operations are classified as arduous employment.
In the normal course of events most individuals could be expected to continue working up until they reach retirement age. It should be easy then for them to collect their P9/10 form from NSSA, complete it and give it to their employer to complete Section D of the form.
Section D provides not only confirmation of employment, but details of monthly insurable earnings and contributions for the 12 months prior to retirement.
This is important information, as the amount of a person’s pension from NSSA depends in part on the insurable earnings prior to retirement. The other variable factor is the contribution period.
Problems may occur when it comes to having Section D of the form completed by the employer, if the individual ceased formal employment a long time before reaching the retirement age.
There should be no problem if the formal sector company last worked for is still in existence, as companies keep records of their past employees and salaries they were paid.
However, a number of people who have reached 60 years of age after having been out of formal employment for several years have found the company they previously worked for is no longer operating or has moved premises and is difficult to trace.
To prevent such a problem arising some people, who have retired early from their companies and have no intention of working again, have obtained the P9/P10 form and asked the employer to fill in the employer section of the form, even though it will be several years before they are eligible to claim a retirement benefit.
NSSA does not encourage this, since most people on leaving a job prior to reaching retirement age might be expected to seek further employment, especially if there are quite a number of years to go before they reach the official retirement age.
Moreover, the form is for submission when the person becomes eligible for the benefit. It might be difficult to keep the form in good order for several years.
However, some people are doing this because they feel quite certain they will not enter formal employment again and are concerned the company, particularly if it is a small one, might no longer be there when the time comes for them to submit the form.
One such person wrote recently to this column asking why NSSA cannot keep such forms where a person stops work at say age 56 and has no desire to work again.
“It’s extremely difficult for most people to keep papers for more than three years. We are constantly changing residences and moving to rural areas and papers and other things get lost,” this person said, adding that NSSA has offices and computers and should be better placed to look after the forms.
Unfortunately the suggestion is not practical. Benefit claim forms should only be submitted when the person making the claim is eligible for the benefit. When the form is lodged with NSSA, it constitutes a claim. That claim can only legitimately be made when the claimant is eligible for the benefit.
If a claim form were to be submitted by a 56-year-old, other than one who had been in arduous employment, then the claim would have to be rejected, since the applicant has not yet reached 60 years of age. NSSA cannot be expected to provide a storage facility where people leave claim forms they do not wish to have processed for another four years.
So those who are worried that the business they worked for may have collapsed by the time they reach retirement age and take the precaution of having the employer fill in Section D of the form in advance, will just have to find a way of storing the form safely.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.