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NSSA pays qualifying applicants benefits due to them


The national pension scheme administered by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is currently paying out $4,9 million per month in pension benefits, a figure that is increasing monthly.

There are 37 723 people receiving a retirement pension,
66 988 people receiving a survivor’s pension, 40 812 children receiving children’s allowances and 5 305 people receiving an invalidity pension.

The number of pensioners has increased enormously over the years to its present level, as shown in the table below. Despite this, it is common to hear people complaining that they are not benefiting from the scheme.

There may be a number of reasons for this. One is that some contributors may have left employment before reaching retirement age and so do not qualify for a retirement pension or any form of benefit at the time they leave employment.
Other contributors who might be eligible for a benefit under the scheme may, for a variety of reasons, including ignorance of the claim procedures, never have approached NSSA to claim their benefit. Some may not realise they are eligible for a benefit. Others may not realise they have to lodge a claim in order to receive a benefit. Still others may not know how to go about the claim procedure.

NSSA pays benefits to all those applicants who qualify for them. However, a benefit claim has to be lodged with NSSA in order for NSSA to process it and, where the applicant qualifies, pay it.

The applicant must also fulfil the qualifying criteria. Contributors who leave employment before attaining the age of retirement do not immediately qualify for a retirement pension or grant.

The national pension scheme does not offer unemployment benefits. Those who leave employment before the scheme’s qualifying retirement age have to wait until they reach retirement age to be eligible for a retirement grant or pension.

What NSSA is increasingly seeing is an influx of former scheme members who were duly paid their benefits during the Zimbabwe dollar period, who are relaunching claims for benefits.

This arises from a situation where they were paid a grant, which is a one-off payment, during the Zimbabwe dollar period. Because they feel that they were not paid enough at that time, they approach NSSA with various reasons as to why they should be reconsidered for a pension.

A commonly cited reason is that they did not cash the cheque they received from NSSA or that they never received the cheque at all. They should, therefore, be reconsidered for another payment in United States dollars, such people argue.
This is despite the fact that NSSA records clearly indicate that the member received the payment and in some cases actually signed for the cheque.
This has been a major source of complaints, with such people implying that NSSA does not pay benefits to deserving members.

It is important to note that NSSA has rules and regulations that it has to follow in the discharge of its obligations to members.

Previous articles in this column have detailed the various benefits that can be accessed from NSSA, how members can access them and the procedures to be followed.

The normal retirement age at which a member of the scheme becomes eligible for a retirement benefit is 60, although there is provision for a late retirement age of 65 for those able and willing to continue working until then. Those who were working in certain specified arduous occupations, such as mining and agriculture, for the seven years preceding retirement can elect to retire at 55 years of age.

Only those who have contributed to the pension scheme for a minimum of 120 months are eligible for a pension when they reach retirement age. Those who contributed for less than that, but for more than 12 months are eligible for a once-off grant.

NSSA has always paid benefit applicants the benefits they are entitled to in terms of the rules of the national pension and other benefits scheme.

The table provided here shows the phenomenal increase there has been in the number of pensioners and beneficiaries since the scheme started paying benefits.

As already stated, the national pension scheme currently pays $4,9 million per month in pension benefits. This figure is increasing monthly.

The scheme paid a total of $14 million in 2009, $20,8 million in 2010 and $46 million in 2011.

There is nobody who applies for benefits who will not be paid what they are entitled to in terms of the scheme.

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