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FAQs for Active Members of GEPF

Q: How do I obtain the necessary forms for all benefits?
A: GEPF can fax, mail or e-mail all the forms to you or you can print the form you need from this website. 

Q: I need to complete my tax assessment in time for SARS. I am still awaiting an IRP5 document. Could you kindly tell me how to obtain my IRP5 certificate? 
A: You can contact GEPF’s toll-free Call Centre at 0800 117 669 - they are responsible for general enquiries, including IRP5 certificates. 

Q: When I die, what should my spouse or beneficiaries do to claim the benefits that are payable to them? 
A: Your family must complete all the necessary forms and attach all the necessary documents relating to the death of a member or pensioner (whichever of these two is applicable). These forms are available on this website and, alternatively, through GEPF’s toll-free Call Centre (0800 117 669), and include the Spouse Application form (Z143).

Q: I recently joined the government sector after working in the private sector. My previous employer did not have a pension scheme. Now that I belong to GEPF, is there any way in which I can buy back service for the years that I have worked?
A: GEPF allows members to buy back service dating from their eighteenth birthday. You need to apply to do this through your Human Resources department. They will submit a written request, after completing a Z215 form (Application to Purchase Service), to GEPF. A quotation of the cost will be send to you for you to decide whether you would like to accept it or not. If you accept the quotation, you will pay in and be credited with the amount of service you have chosen to purchase.

Q: Where can I obtain a Z102 (Withdrawal from the Fund) form and a Z143 form (Application for a Spouse's Pension) in advance? Should I then pass away or resign, the respective form can be immediately submitted. 
A: If you resign, the Z102 form must be submitted by your Human Resources department to GEPF. Should you pass away, your relatives can obtain a Z143 form from your employer, their nearest GEPF Regional Office, or on this website. Alternatively, they can contact the toll-free Call Centre (0800 117 669) for more information. 

Q: What is actuarial interest? 
A:
 Actuarial Interest is the value of your accrued benefits in the Fund. It is calculated by means of various formulae. Please refer to the Member Guide booklet for the formulae and look out for articles dealing with this issue. 

Q: I would like to know how much I have accumulated since I joined GEPF and, added to this, the value of my employer's contributions? 
A: The accumulated value of contributions made by yourself and your employer are not indicative of the benefits that you will receive. Your benefits will be based on your final average salary and your length of pensionable service; this is because GEPF is a defined benefit pension fund.

Q: My finances have come to a crisis level and it makes me wonder if I could borrow R10 000 from GEPF? Can you please help - I need this for my family? 
A: Unfortunately, GEPF does not lend money to any member or pensioner. There are no provisions for loans in the rules of the Fund. You cannot withdraw money from the Fund while remaining in the service of government. 

Q: What is the difference between a pension fund and a provident fund? 
A: In a pension fund, at least two thirds of the final benefit must be paid as a pension for the rest of the pensioners’ life. A maximum of one third of the final benefit may be taken as a once-off lump sum or cash payment. In a provident fund, the full amount of the benefit available at retirement may be taken as a lump sum cash payment, irrespective of whether this benefit is calculated on a defined benefit or a defined contribution basis. 

Q: I have worked for a private company and belonged to a provident fund there. Now that I have joined government, is my credit in the fund transferable to GEPF? 
A: The rules of GEPF do allow for a person who was a member of an approved retirement fund to transfer into GEPF. 

Q: Assuming I retire or resign, what are the tax implications on my benefits? Am I going to receive my whole gratuity or only part thereof? 
A: Tax is payable on your benefits. Annuities are taxed as income. A part of your gratuity will be eligible for tax relief. 

Q: If I were to be medically boarded, how do I go about claiming my benefits? 
A: You would need to contact your employer before contacting GEPF. They will advise you about whether or not you qualify and will forward the necessary documentation to GEPF if you do. 

Q: What are the definitions of the words 'annuity' and 'gratuity'? 
A:
 An annuity (or monthly pension) is an amount that is paid regularly, ie monthly. A gratuity (or lump sum) is a single once-off payment of a benefit in cash. Benefits from GEPF take the form of an annuity or a gratuity or both. 

Q: Can I pledge my pension fund as collateral for bond purposes? 
A: Unfortunately not. The Rules of the Fund do not provide for pledges or collateral. The Fund aims to assist members to continue to save for their retirement and therefore does not allow for loans against pension funds.

Q: What is my contribution rate and that of my employer? 
A: Normal members contribute into the Fund at a rate of 7, 5% of their pensionable earnings. Employers contribute 13 % of a member’s pensionable salary to GEPF. 

Q: Please explain the difference between a defined benefit and defined contribution fund. 
A: A defined benefit fund is a fund where the benefits are defined in terms of the rules. In this type of fund benefits are generally guaranteed and are not dependent on the investment returns of the fund or on the level of employer contributions. GEPF is a defined benefit fund. A defined contribution fund is a fund where the benefits are mainly based on the accumulation of contributions plus investment returns. Benefits are dependent on the level of investment and bear the risk of poor investment returns. 

Q: Is my contribution linked to inflation? 
A: Your contribution is a percentage of your pensionable salary. If your salary increases, so will your contribution. It is only in this way that the contribution is – if only distantly – linked to inflation.

Q: If I die, how are my benefits distributed and how can I be sure that all my beneficiaries get their rightful share? 
A: If you die, a once-off cash lump sum benefit will be divided between your nominated beneficiaries in the proportions indicated by yourself on your Nomination of Beneficiaries from (WP1002). In addition, a pension is payable to your spouse and not to the other nominated beneficiaries. It is therefore important to nominate beneficiaries and to keep your Nomination of Beneficiaries form (WP1002) up to date; this form is available from your Human Resources department as well as on this website. This ensures that the Trustees of GEPF know who you would like to receive your death benefits. 

Q: How can I find out how much I have contributed to the Fund and why don't we get annual statements showing how much we have contributed to the Fund? 
A: GEPF is a defined benefit fund. This means that your benefits are defined in terms of the rules (see the Member Guide booklet). No benefit payable from the Fund is based on the amount of money that you have contributed to the Fund. Benefits are instead based on your final average salary and your years of pensionable service. However, the distribution of benefit statements, showing each individual's benefit entitlements, is planned for the near future. 

Q: If I am transferred from one government department to the other, do my benefits get added together? 
A: Yes. Your pensionable service will continue uninterrupted and your benefits will accumulate with service as before. 

Q: Can I borrow money or withdraw funds from the contributions I have made to the Fund to build a house or settle debts? 
A: No. As pointed above, GEPF does not provide loans to members under any circumstances. You also cannot withdraw money from the Fund while remaining in the service of government. 

Q: When can I retire? 
A: This depends on your conditions of service with your employer. Generally, conditions of service state that you may retire without any reduction of benefits at age 60. This is known as the Normal Retirement Age. Your retirement age may be different. You may also retire up to 5 years earlier but your benefits will be reduced (this is known as early retirement). 

Q: What forms do I need to complete if I want to withdraw from the Fund? 
A: If, on exit from service with your employer, you want to take your withdrawal benefit in cash, your Human Resources department needs to complete a Withdrawal/Termination from Fund form (Z102). You may not withdraw from the Fund and remain in the service of government. 

Q: I previously left the service of the government and have now returned; can I buy back pensionable service? 
A: Yes. If it is less than 36 months since you left GEPF, you can repay the benefit that was paid to you with interest.

Q: What is meant by “service after 28 February 1998 will be taxed on private sector rules”? 
A: While members of GEPF were not previously taxed on their lump sum retirement benefits, effective 28 February 1998, their benefits are now taxed in the same way as for members of a pension fund in the private sector. The portion of the benefit that relates to service prior to 1 March 1998 will not be taxed. The tax rate that applies to your benefit will depend upon your taxable income level for the relevant tax year and will be determined by SARS according to the relevant Tax Tables. 

Q: Who bears the cost of the newsletters and publications – is it the Pension Fund; and does this mean that we earn less interest? 
A: The cost is recovered from the Fund. However, since this is a defined benefit type fund, your benefits are guaranteed and will in no way be affected by such costs. 

Q: Does the employer contribution of 13% include my contribution of 7, 5% of salary? 
A: No, the employer contributes 13% in addition to your 7, 5%. This means that the total contribution of a member into GEPF is 20, 5% of pensionable income.

Q: Do I have the option to invest in a private pension fund when I retire? 
A: If your pensionable service is less than 10 years, your retirement benefit is a once-off lump sum payment. You may invest this money with a private organisation. Generally, a private pension fund will not accept your money. One option is to purchase an annuity, which is similar to a pension. A financial advisor will be able to advise you on the best financial product for your needs. If you have 10 years or more pensionable service, your retirement benefit from the fund is both a monthly pension (an annuity) and a lump sum (gratuity). As above, you are free to do with your lump sum as you wish. The monthly pension, however, will be paid from GEPF and will be paid to you until you die. This pension cannot be transferred to a private pension fund and cannot be commuted. 

Q: Has GEPF performed worse than other retirement funds? Will this affect my benefits? 
A: GEPF has performed better than some and worse than others. The investment performance of the Fund does not, however, affect your benefits. Your benefits are defined in terms of the rules of the fund. So even if the Fund performs very poorly, your benefits are guaranteed. Poor performance means that the employer has to contribute more and good performance means that the employer has to contribute less. It is therefore the employer who should be concerned about the investment performance of the Fund, and not the members or pensioners. 

Q: Can I add more money to the pension fund? 
A: Unfortunately not. GEPF does not accept additional voluntary contributions. You may however make other arrangements such as the purchasing a retirement annuity. A financial advisor can advise you on your options. 

Q: Will I also get my UIF contributions when I retire? 
A: Unfortunately not. The Unemployment Insurance Fund is completely different from the pension fund. UIF provides for some sort of income if you are unemployed and is similar to an insurance policy. 

Q: My pay slip does not indicate a pension number like that of one of my colleagues. It only indicates 999999999. Does this mean that I am not a member of the Fund? 
A: No, not at all. All employees of government, with the exception of political office-bearers, should be members of the Government Employees Pension Fund. Check your Salary Advice slip for contribution deductions. The 999999999 number indicates that some of your personal details are outstanding. Please contact your Human Resources (HR) department to rectify this problem.

FAQs for Pensioners of GEPF

Q: I am a GEPF pensioner and have been living in South Africa and now I am relocating overseas. How do I arrange to sign my pension Life Certificate while I am overseas? 
A: Please notify GEPF of your address change. In future, we'll send your Life Certificate to your overseas address. You can then complete the form as you would normally do and return the original to us. You could also fax a copy of the certificate to us before mailing it for your peace of mind.

Q: When I retired, I never received my unpaid leave owning to me from GEPF. How do I go about claiming this benefit? 
A: Please contact your employer as they deal with leave gratuities. These are not paid out simultaneously with your pension payout from GEPF. GEPF only handles pension-related matters.

Q: I retired six years ago and became a pensioner of GEPF. I have never received any newsletters from GEPF. Please inform me what the frequency of your newsletter is, as well as where I can obtain past copies from. 
A: GEPF pensioner newsletter (fundnews) is published quarterly. You may request a copy of the newsletter from: Government Employees Pension Fund, Private Bag X09, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0007. You can also download the latest copy of fundnews from this website.

Q: For the past few years I have received my pension at the Post Office. I need to change from the Post Office to a bank. How do I get my pension paid into my bank account? 
A: First you need to open an account with any bank in your region. Then you need to complete a Z894 from (which is available from this website, or GEPF can fax, mail or e-mail it to you) and send the original to us. We will then deposit your pension into your bank account every month.

Q: When I die, what should my spouse or beneficiaries do to claim benefits payable to them? 
A: Your family must complete all necessary documents relating to the death of a pensioner. These forms are available on this website or they can be requested from the toll-free Call Centre (0800 117 669), and include the Spouse Application form (Z143).

Q: What is actuarial interest? 
A:
 Actuarial interest is the value of your accrued benefits in the Fund. It is calculated by means of various formulae. Please refer to your Member Guide booklet for the formulae and look out for future articles in our newsletters dealing with this issue.

Q: What is the difference between a pension fund and provident fund? 
A: In a pension fund, at least two thirds of the final benefit must be paid as a pension for the rest of the pensioners’ life. A maximum of one third of the final benefit may be taken as a once-off lump-sum or cash payment. In a provident fund, the full amount of the benefit available at retirement may be taken as a lump-sum cash payment, irrespective of whether this benefit is calculated on a defined benefit or a defined contribution basis. GEPF is a pension fund.

Q: What are the definitions of the words 'annuity' and 'gratuity'? 
A:
 An annuity (or monthly pension) is an amount that is paid regularly, ie. monthly. A gratuity (or cash lump sum) is a single once-off payment of a benefit. Benefits from GEPF take the form of an annuity or a gratuity or both.

Q: Please explain the difference between a defined benefit and defined contribution fund. 
A: A defined benefit fund is a fund where the benefits are defined in terms of the rules. Benefits are generally guaranteed and are not dependent on the investment returns of the fund or on the level of employer contributions. GEPF is a defined benefit fund. A defined contribution fund is a fund where the benefits are mainly based on the accumulation of contributions plus investment returns. Benefits are dependent on the level of returns therefore the member bears the risk of poor investment returns in such funds.

Q: If I die, how are my benefits distributed and how can I be sure that all my beneficiaries get their rightful share? 
A: If you die, a once-off lump sum benefit will be divided between your nominated beneficiaries in the proportions indicated by yourself on your nomination of beneficiaries from (WP1002). In addition, a pension is payable to your spouse and not to the other nominated beneficiaries. It is therefore important to nominate beneficiaries and to keep your Nomination of Beneficiaries form (WP1002) up to date; this form is available on this website or from your Human Resources department. This ensures that the Trustees of GEPF know who you would like to receive your death benefits.

Q: Who bears the cost of the newsletters and publications – is it the Pension Fund; and does this mean that we earn less interest? 
A: The cost is recovered from the Fund. However, since this is a defined benefit type fund, your benefits are guaranteed and will in no way be affected by such costs.

Q: Has GEPF performed worse than other retirement funds? Will this affect my benefits? 
A: GEPF has performed better than some and worse than others. The investment performance of the Fund does not, however, affect your benefits. Your benefits are defined in terms of the rules of the fund. So even if the Fund performs very poorly, your benefits are guaranteed. Poor performance means that the employer has to contribute more and good performance means the employer has to contribute less. It is therefore the employer who should be concerned about the investment performance of the Fund.

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