Finding the Needle in the Unclaimed Benefits Haystack
The FSB has estimated that over R20 billion is due to more than 3 million individuals in unclaimed benefits. The Registrar of Pension Funds has recently announced that there is approximately R10 billion worth of unclaimed benefits in the mining industry and if these amounts aren’t excessively high enough, the Government Gazette estimated that R10 million in unclaimed benefits is due by medical aid schemes. These amounts increase annually which is a growing concern in South Africa.
The Pension Funds Adjudicator (PFA) has recently blamed pension funds that lacked expertise to identify beneficiaries and invalid/incomplete data maintained by funds and their administrators for the increase in unclaimed benefits. There is truly a myriad of reasons for this, ranging from financial illiteracy, employers failing to inform employees of their entitlement to a withdrawal benefit, administrative issues at pension funds, their administrators and employers, lack of communication & the inability to trace a beneficiary.
It is interesting that the PFA offers a free public service to trace beneficiaries of unclaimed benefits, to which retirement funds should draw the attention of their members, and potential claimants should approach the office directly. However, given the magnitude of unclaimed benefits the PFA has lofty goals that aren’t necessary realistic given their view on the fact that a benefit must be distributed and paid without any unreasonable delay. Where there is a delay in the payment of a benefit, such a delay must always be reasonable and justifiable.
It is important to take note of the fact that the PFA has recently awarded 10% in compensatory damages to the beneficiaries of unclaimed benefits due to the unreasonable delay in tracing these beneficiaries by the fund! A fund is also required by legislation to ensure that payment is made to the correct person. It is the responsibility of the board of a fund to ensure that efforts or mechanisms are in place to trace beneficiaries.
EOH-FS will find the needle
Typically, tracing is not a core function or focus of benefit administrators and as such the administrators may not have the resources or expertise to perform this function. Amongst other things EOH-FS acts as a specialised tracing agent whose sole focus is to locate beneficiaries. Not only do we locate these beneficiaries but we also ensure that the benefits are paid to the correct individuals and into the correct bank accounts. EOH-FS provides a cost-effective solution for tracing beneficiaries & determining guardianship.
As we have the capacity to deal with vast volumes, our volume-driven price which is based on a subsidy model will give you far more value for your Rand compared to the conservative smaller tracing agency’s fee. There is also fraud to consider when money is payable to beneficiaries. It happens often that funds and/or beneficiaries are exploited by so called tracing agencies. Since eradicating fraud is our core business, you can rest assured that this will not be the case when presented with our findings. We will find the needle in the haystack within a limited time frame.
Johrene du Toit
Manager – Forensic Services