• There's a big backlog in pension payouts from the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). 
  • Covid-19 at its offices have contributed to the delays, but that may only be part of the problem.
  • Some GEPF members have been waiting since last year for their pension savings to be released.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Civil servants who resign face a long wait for pension fund payouts due to a large backlog at the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) – due in part to the spread of Covid-19 at its offices.

Some GEPF members have been waiting since last year for their pension savings to be released.

“I resigned on 31 December 2019 and I am still waiting for my pension,” says one member, who worked for the SA Navy for 22 years. “I belong to a GEPF Facebook group and there are hundreds of others in the same position. Some have been waiting even longer. The GEPF doesn’t answer phone calls and when they do, there are only excuses with no feedback. I worked for them for half my life. To be honest, it feels like a slap in the face.”

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“We do have a backlog and it is a serious issue, because lots of people in the payments department have tested positive [for Covid-19],” said a client liaison officer at the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA).

Senior communications manager at the GPAA, Mack Lewele, also ascribed the backlog to Covid-19, but did not respond to a question about whether there was a delay since before lockdown.

“Although the GEPF is an essential service, it is subject to Covid-19 and the consequences of the response thereto. It is therefore possible that members are experiencing delays in the settlement of their claims and or response to queries. However, delays can also be caused by a number of other related and unrelated reasons,” he said. These include claim documentation which takes long to reach the GEPF from the various HR departments in government, incomplete or incorrect documentation, incorrect payment information, as well as the GEPF awaiting tax directives from SARS or members having issues with their tax affairs. 

An administrator of the Facebook group GEPF FORUM, which has almost 30,000 members and was created by the Association for the Monitoring and Advocacy of Government Pensions, says she receives daily queries from people struggling to get their money.

“One woman who wrote to me has been waiting 15 months. And it’s not just people with complicated files, where for example they are claiming the pension of an estranged spouse for their children.”

She said that while Covid-19 has increased problems, there was a backlog before the virus landed. “I know people who were asked to help out temporarily to address the backlog. This was last year and at the beginning of this year, so it has nothing to do with the virus.”

The GEPF FORUM Facebook group administrators are now compiling a list of people’s complaints which they hope to submit to the GEPF.

Another GEPF member, who waited a full year before receiving his pension, says he doesn’t believe it is the GEPF alone to blame. “Claiming your pension takes many steps. It goes through your own department, then to head office in Pretoria, then only to GEPF. I think in many cases, it’s all the departments that come before the GEPF that take their time.”

The Facebook group administrator agrees. “There are problems at GEPF. But many of the problems also occur in the departments that have to compile it – especially the Department of Education and the Department of Health. Some people’s documents take months to reach the GEPF.”

The article has been revised to confirm that Business Insider spoke to a GPAA representative, not a liaison from the GEPF.

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