This week the column brings you some more questions that correspondents frequently ask about the national pension and other benefits scheme and the answers to them.
Report by NSSA
Q. If I am late claiming my retirement pension, will it be backdated?
The statutory period within which a retirement pension should be claimed is 12 months. If the claim is lodged with NSSA within this period, then payment will be made as from the date on which the claimant qualified for it. If the claim is lodged more than 12 months after you become eligible for it, then the claim will still be considered but the pension will only be backdated to the date on which the claim was received by NSSA.
The statutory period within which a retirement grant should be claimed is five years. Claims will not be approved if lodged later than five years after you become eligible for it.
Similar provisions apply to survivors’ benefits.
Q. I left my job in January 2010. I have been contributing to NSSA since 1994 but have not received anything from NSSA. How can I get my benefits from NSSA?
If you are over 60 years of age and unemployed, then you need to lodge a claim by obtaining from NSSA form P9/P10 and submitting it to NSSA after you and your last employer have filled in the sections applicable to you and to your employer. Those earning more than $200 per month who retired in January 2010, when there was no insurable earnings limit, generally receive better pensions than those who retired when there was a maximum insurable earnings limit in place.
If you are not yet 60 then you will need to wait until you are 60 to claim your benefit, unless you were working in a job categorised by NSSA as arduous, such as farm work or some mining and quarrying jobs.
Q. I used to have a NSSA card but it’s lost now. Is it possible for me to claim my benefits from NSSA?
If you are eligible for benefits from NSSA, you can claim them even if you do not have a NSSA card. It would be helpful to know your NSSA number but not essential. Your employment and therefore contribution history can be accessed by NSSA using your national identity card number.
Q. Every month NSSA contributions are deducted from our salaries but we have no NSSA card. Is that the fault of NSSA or our employer?
There was a time when NSSA issued cards for every member of the national pension scheme. However, there was a period, during the hyperinflationary period, when this was discontinued. Not having a card will, however, not affect your ability to claim your benefit when you are due for it.
There are large numbers of uncollected cards at various NSSA offices throughout the county. Those who would like a card should contact their nearest NSSA office to find out whether there may already be a card for them among the large number of uncollected cards or whether arrangements can be made to provide them with one.
Q. I was contributing to NSSA from 1994 to 2003. Since then I have never been employed. What should I do?
That depends on how old you are. If you are 60 years old or older, then you need to obtain a claim form (form P9/P10) from your nearest NSSA office, complete it, have your last employer fill in the employer’s section of the form and submit it to NSSA. Since you contributed for less than 10 years you will not be eligible for a retirement pension but should be eligible for a retirement grant, once you reach the required retirement age. If you however qualify for credit years on contribution you may have a pension processed for you.
If you have not yet reached retirement age, then you are best advised to seek employment and resume your contributions to the national pension scheme administered by NSSA. Depending on your age, you may be able to contribute for sufficiently long enough to build up the minimum 120 months of contributions needed to qualify for a pension. Your new contribution period will be added to your old one when assessing your contribution period. Contributions can continue to be made up to the age of 65, at which age contributions should cease.
Q. Which procedure is to be taken if my company deducts NSSA pension contributions from my salary but no documents are showing that I am registered?
If you are unsure whether or not you are registered, go to your nearest NSSA office with your national identity card and ask whether you are registered. Take with you payslips showing the pension scheme deductions being made. Using your national identity card number, NSSA should be able to trace on its database whether or not you are registered and, if you are, which companies you have worked for while contributing to NSSA. If you are on the database and the employment history shows the company you are currently working for then you have no need to worry but you could ask for your social security number and whether you can be issued with a card.
If you are not on NSSA’s database, tell officials at the NSSA office that deductions are being made from your salary although you do not appear to be registered and show them your salary slips as evidence of this. The officials will advise as to what you should do. It may be that your employer is submitting your contributions to NSSA but has not registered you, in which case you will need to be registered. If it appears the company is not passing on your contributions to NSSA then NSSA compliance officers will be in touch with your employer to pursue that issue.
- Talking Social Security is published weekly by the National Social Security Authority as a public service. There is also a weekly radio programme, PaMhepo neNssa/Emoyeni le NSSA, discussing social security issues at 6.50 pm every Thursday on Radio Zimbabwe and 6.50pm every Friday on National FM. Readers can e-mail 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.