Some contributors continue to be anxious about not knowing their social security number, not having a social security card or being unsure whether the national pension scheme contributions deducted from their salaries are finding their way to NSSA or not.
Talking Social Security with NSSA
Some also seem to be unaware that retirement benefits are not normally paid before the age of 60 and have to be applied for.
Finding out your social security number is relatively simple. All you have to do is go to the nearest NSSA office, produce your national identity card and request your social security number.
It is also possible to ask to verify your employment history. NSSA offices are online with NSSA’s national database. It is easy, therefore, for a NSSA official, using your social security number or ID number, to access your employment record.
If employers you worked for were forwarding your contributions to NSSA and keeping NSSA updated on your periods of employment with them, then your employment dates with each of these employers should appear on the national database. If there are gaps in that employment history, then you need to tell NSSA, so that it can investigate why those gaps exist.
It is not essential to have a social security card. There are hundreds of social security cards at NSSA offices around the country that have never been collected. If your card is not among them, you can request one from your nearest NSSA office.
What is important is your social security number. If you do not have it or have lost it or cannot remember it, then NSSA can find it out using your national identity card number.
“Is it possible,” one contributor asked, “to contribute to NSSA for as long as five years without a NSSA number?”
If you were registered with NSSA then you do have a NSSA number, even though you may not know what it is. You can find out your number from NSSA.
“How does NSSA get pension contributions from people who are not registered with NSSA?” a person in Victoria Falls asked.
It is essential to be registered with NSSA, if one is working in formal employment. If you are not registered with NSSA, then it will be impossible for any contributions to be credited to you, since NSSA will not have your details.
Initial registration should be done when you are first employed. Once registered you are allocated a social security number. When you move to another employer, the employer submits to NSSA a form with your details and your social security number and ID number on it.
If you cannot remember ever being registered, then you need to check with NSSA whether or not you are registered. If you are not registered then you need to register. If you have already been making contributions even though unregistered, take your salary slips to NSSA so it can look into the matter.
“Is it possible,” someone else asked, “for someone who has no payslip and no fixed pay to be contributing to NSSA?”
Everyone who is having a NSSA contribution deducted from his/her wages should have a payslip on which this deduction is shown. It would generally be expected that anyone employed in the formal sector would have a fixed wage.
Those employed in the informal sector do not contribute to the NSSA pension scheme, unless, soon after leaving formal employment, they arranged with NSSA to continue contributing to the scheme voluntarily.
Those who make arrangements for voluntary contributions have to contribute double what they were paying when employed, since there is no employer to share the contribution with. Arrangements for voluntary contributions have to be made soon after leaving formal employment.
Casual workers within the formal employment sector who receive payment in any one calendar month, for at least 18 days employment should contribute to the national pension scheme. So should casual workers employed in any six weeks of a 12 week period.
The same applies to those who work for five days or more in a month but have a contract that runs for several months, since employment under any contract of service, written or implied, is insurable employment.
“I started contributing to NSSA in 1994 up to 2001 when the company I worked for closed. I then joined another company in which I was contributing up until in 2008. From 2009 to 2013, the company deducted money from my salary on the pretext that it was being remitted to NSSA yet it was not remitting. So how can I solve this? For now the company is closed,” wrote one contributor.
This person needs to visit the nearest NSSA office, preferably with payslips showing the deductions that were made. Those who had money deducted from their salaries as contributions to the national pension fund that was not remitted to NSSA will not be disadvantaged if they can prove that such deductions were made.
“I started working in 1990 and I am still working. Are there any benefits I can get from NSSA before I turn 60?” one correspondent asked.
“I have not got my pension yet. I am now 59 years old. I worked for 30 years,” another one said.
No benefits are paid until one turns 60. Even then you are only eligible for a retirement benefit if you have retired, which means you are unemployed. If you are still working at 60 years of age then you can only claim your pension when you do retire or when you turn 65, whichever comes sooner.
There is an early retirement age of 55, but this is only applicable to those who have for seven of the preceding 10 years been working in a job classified as arduous. Such jobs include farm jobs, heavy truck driving and some forestry, quarrying and mining jobs.
Benefits have to be claimed. They are not paid automatically.
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 every Friday on National FM. There is another social security programme on Star FM on Wednesdays after 5.30 pm. Readers can e mail issues they would like dealt with in this column to email@example.com or text them to 0772 307913.
Those with individual queries should contact their local NSSA office or telephone NSSA on (04) 706517-8 or 706523 5.