SA FUND ADMINISTRATORS TACKLE R42 BILLION IN UNCLAIMED PENSION FUNDS

Liberty participated in MSWSA 2021 to educate South Africans about how to access possible unclaimed pension funds.

The retirement age in South Africa is 65, which means that many people have spent an average of 47 years working hard and are then entitled to their pension benefit funds.  According to the FSCA, almost 4.8 million South Africans have not yet claimed their pension savings, worth almost R42 billion. This amount of money has the potential to change and impact the lives of many and contribute to the financial freedom of communities.

Speaking during a Money Smart Week South Africa 2021 event held in March, Project lead of Unclaimed Benefits at Liberty, Kabelo van de Merwe, described unclaimed benefits as any money from a retirement fund that is not claimed for a period of 24 months from the time it is due for payment.

The lack of knowledge and education has resulted in many citizens not being aware that they must make the necessary claims for their retirement savings. Liberty is currently prioritising and encouraging all citizens to be informed about claiming for their pension funds.

Whether the citizen has recently retired, left employment or is a dependent of someone deceased who was a contributor to a pension fund, it is important to follow the correct channels and to be aware of scams and fraudulent individuals who may claim to assist them with receiving their funds.

The Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) offers to help all South African citizens with their claims at no cost, with beneficiaries and recipients having access the FSCA website and portal to source all the information about possible claims and the correct process to follow. From there, they can contact the retirement fund processors should there be a claim to process.

Once the beneficiary has received the claim form, they will need to complete the details of both who the main member of the fund is as well as person’s relationship to the person they are claiming for. To do this, a tax number is required, as well as proof of identity and a proof of residence. The required documents are used to validate that the money is indeed going to the right person.

Additional procedures are followed by SARS to ensure that the correct tax amounts are deducted whether the beneficiary chooses to transfer the money to a different retirement fund, or if they choose to receive a cash payout.

Liberty encourages all citizens to always check their pay slips to learn about the total amount being deducted to contribute to a retirement fund. It is also important for the employee to keep their information updated with their employer, which includes contact details and residential information. Citizens are also encouraged to communicate with their families and ensure that they are informed about the money being invested and saved for their retirement.

This is one of the many topics addressed during Money Smart Week South Africa, a campaign aimed at motivating and empowering South Africans to become better educated about their finances. This campaign saw over 110 free financial education events being live streamed between 22 and 28 March. Recordings of all these events are now available on www.mswsa.co.za.

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