What is the GEPF
The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) controls South African government employee pensions and benefits.
The GEPF is not an institution of Government but a separate entity. Therefore, its benefits are not dependent on investment results but guaranteed by the law.
Since its establishment in 1996, the growth of the GEPF has exploded from R 127 billion to R 1.8 trillion, making it the largest pension fund in the country. It is the largest single investor on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and plays a critical role in the development of the country. A Board of Trustees serving a four-year term administers the Fund.
Where does the GEPF get the money?
As a GEPF-member, you contribute a percentage of your monthly salary towards pension benefits. The Government also contributes on your behalf as it is your employer.
GEPF members pay 7.5% of their salary to the Fund.
The contribution of your employer is 13% of your pensionable salary.
The rate is higher if you are employed at a department in the intelligence community or by the South African National Defence Force. In that case, your employer contributes 16%.
How is your GEPF calculated?
The two issues that impact how much a member gets paid are the length of service completed and the final salary when he or she leaves the Fund.
Benefits of membership to the GEPF include provision for regular and early retirement and retirement for health reasons. In addition, workers whose careers have been affected by reorganisation or restructuring may also get retirement benefits.
The normal retirement age for GEPF members is sixty. The benefits paid will depend on the length of service. Members with a service time of fewer than ten years will be eligible for a gratuity in the form of a lump sum in cash. Members with a service time of 10 or more years receive a gratuity and monthly pension annuity.
Members may retire before reaching the usual retirement age of 60. In a case like this, the member’s time of pensionable service once again determines the benefits. Ten or more years will ensure annuities and gratuities. These are calculated in the same manner as those for normal retirement, but there will be a reduction of a third of one percent (0, 33%) for each month between the date of early retirement and regular retirement.
Enhanced benefits come in to play when members retire for medical reasons, injury on duty, or when restructuring leads to the loss of their jobs. In cases like these, members with a service time of 10 years or longer receive annuities and gratuities. They also get an annual supplementary amount. The benefit will be consistent with the resignation benefit for members with less than ten years of pensionable service.
How do I check the pension fund and balance?
Every year the GEPF sends an Estimation of Benefits statement to its active members. The statement is a summary of the estimated pension benefits earned at a specific date during employment. It also contains information such as employment and personal details and pension benefits in case of normal retirement, resignation, Ill health retirement, and death in service. These are estimates only. The final numbers will only be available at a member’s actual exit date.
How many years of service are required for a full pension?
The minimum eligibility period for receipt of pension is ten years.
How do I claim my GEPF pension?
To claim your benefit, you can request a withdrawal notification form. This form is available through the PR Department. Members have to complete this form and return it together with some required documents, including ID and proof of banking. It will then be submitted to the fund administrator for processing.
How long will it take to process your claim?
Once your documents have been received, it will take no longer than 60 days to process the GEPF have received your duly completed documents; it will take not more than 60 days to process your claim. However, there is an exception to this rule. In the case of death claims where the distribution of benefits must take place, it can take longer.
Payments must be claimed within 30 days of payment to the Post Office.
The GEPF offers two options for the payment of the resignation benefit:
- Have it paid into a bank account as a cash lump sum; or
- Transfer it to an approved pension preservation fund.
Some of the other benefits
- Funeral benefits
The GEPF offers benefits for the funeral of a member or a pensioner who passed away. Funerals of a spouse or eligible child of a member or pensioner are also covered. For a member, pensioner, or spouse, the Fund contributes a taxable amount of R15 000 towards the funeral costs. In addition, a taxable cash lump sum of R6 000 is payable for the funeral of an eligible child of a member or pensioner.
- Spouse pension
A qualifying spouse or eligible life partner qualifies for a percentage of the annuity paid to the member at the time of death. The same is true if the member dies while in service and had a full potential service period of at least ten years – that includes pensionable service years plus unexpired years until normal retirement.
- Child pension
In order to be considered for this benefit, the child has to be a biological or adopted child of the deceased member or pensioner.
An eligible child qualifies for this benefit up to the age of 22. A disabled child who is financially entirely dependent on the deceased member or pensioner will be eligible for the benefit until he or she passes away.
Child pensions are paid to the guardian until the age of 18, at which time the benefit must be paid to the child pensioner directly.
What are unclaimed benefits?
Unclaimed benefits are benefits where the benefit is not paid to the member or beneficiary within 24 months of the last day of service in line with the rules of the Fund.
Reasons for this may include:
- Problems with the member’s exit documents or tax details.
- Payments get sent but returned because of inaccurate address details.
- Incorrect banking details.
- The GEPF does not have the necessary details of the spouses or other beneficiaries of deceased members to contact them.