Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: SUPPLIED
Ayanda Dlodlo. Picture: SUPPLIED

The government has called on retired public servants and their beneficiaries to apply for unclaimed and unpaid pension benefits, which amount to more than R1.6bn.

Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said on Monday the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) had 44,190 cases of unpaid and unclaimed benefits as of May 2018.

The GPAA administers pensions on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). Unclaimed benefits are accumulated as a result of the rejection of incorrect documentation, including the identity of beneficiaries, as well as member tax matters, incorrect banking details and family disputes.

While unpaid benefits are settlements that are more than 24 months old from the exit date of employees from the public service, the mode of exit is unknown and there were no exit documents, resulting in amounts being based on the minimum benefit payment.

The GPAA is dealing with 26,919 cases of unpaid benefits that amount to R907.1m, while there are 17,271 cases of unclaimed benefits valued at a total of R698.9m.

Dlodlo called on government departments and trade unions, among other stakeholders, to alert public servants to the benefits and the need to apply.

"The minister also calls on family members and/or beneficiaries of deceased former public servants to contact the GEPF to ascertain whether they are entitled to any unclaimed pension benefits," read a statement issued by the department.

Long-Standing Issue

The country has had a problem with unpaid and unclaimed retirement fund monies for years, with the Financial Services Board estimating more than R20bn is due to more than 3-million people.

This was mainly due to invalid contact details on pension and provident fund members’ records, emigration and death, among other reasons.

While some of the former employees would have been paid upon retirement, more monies could have accrued thereafter, which would also be owed to them.

The GPAA planned to work with community development workers and hire 20 full-time tracing agents and 10 external service providers to trace beneficiaries. Other interventions included the deployment of 10 mobile vans in all provinces and quarterly national road shows.

The highest amount of unclaimed and unpaid benefits, at R514.1m, was at national government level.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal provincial departments came second, with R370.2m in unclaimed benefits.

The GPAA has a backlog of 14,932 cases.

Dlodlo said former public servants who had not claimed their pension benefits should approach their "closest regional walk-in centres of GEPF in all nine provinces to apply for their unclaimed benefits".

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za