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Understanding unclaimed benefits

20 Oct 2017

An unclaimed benefit is a benefit that is due to a member or former member of a fund, or that member’s beneficiary, where the benefit has not been paid for atleast 24 months. Some unclaimed benefits arose as a result of fund members not knowing that they are entitled to a benefit, or as a result of the fund being unable to pay the benefit (where members were migrant workers who returned to their home countries/provinces as soon as they stopped working for their employers).

To this day, many people that are employed and who are members of a pension or provident fund do not know the name of the fund or the name of the fund administrator. Administrators are entities that have been granted approval by the registrar of pension funds to collect contributions paid on behalf of members and to make payment of fund benefits. At times, the employer may change the administrator or move the fund from one umbrella fund to another. The law requires that funds communicate such changes to members before the transfer, it is therefore important for a member of a fund to know the name of the fund and the name of the administrator.

According to the Financial Services Board, around R42-billion is sitting in unclaimed benefit funds. An unclaimed benefit fund is a retirement fund set up to receive unclaimed benefits from the active and soon-to-be terminated pension funds with the intention to trace those members to whom benefits are due, and to pay their benefits. The difficulty in tracing members is caused by the un-availability of member data such as recent contact details and identities of relatives.

How to check if you have an unclaimed benefit?

In 2016 the registrar of pension funds asked pension funds and administrators to provide information around the unclaimed benefits held in the funds. With this information, the registrar is now better enabled to assist members of the public and to direct them to the relevant fund administrator where one wants to check if they could have an unclaimed benefit somewhere.
If you have ever worked for a company where you and/or your employer were paying contributions to a pension or provident fund, and if you did not receive your benefit from the fund when you stopped working for the employer, then you may follow the following steps:

  • Go onto the Financial Services Board’s website at www.fsb.co.za
  • Click on “unclaimed benefits search”
  • Enter the information required

If you have an unclaimed benefit, the site should provide you with the details of the administrator. You will then have to contact the administrator and inquire. If you do not have access to the internet, you may ask another person with access to perform the search for you, but be vigilant as to whom you trust with your information.

To find out more about your pension or retirement options with your employer, contact Liberty Corporate on +27 11 408 2999 or email us at LC.CONTACT@liberty.co.za.

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