By Favour Nnabugwu
National Pension Commission, PenCom, says it does not waste time in investigating when an employer report to the Commission of a missing employee before directing the PFA to processing the benefits.
A person is presumed dead if not found in one year from the date of disappearance
Only the beneficiary (not necessarily the Next of Kin) shall be entitled to all the benefits of a deceased employee or Retiree.
Head, Benefits & Insurance, Mr Obiora Ibezeago at one workshop organised for Pension Journalists in Abuja, wen an employee is declared missing, the employer must repeat to PenCom first and the Commission will swing into action to investigate but after it clocks a year and the person is still.not found, then it is assumed the person is dead.
Ibezeago, said at this time, PenCom will direct the Pension Fund Administrators to go ahead with the process of paying the beneficiary who in most cases may not be the next of kin.
The beneficiary is the person(s) mentioned in a Will admitted to probate or person(s) who obtained Letter of Administration from High Court to administer the estate of a person who dies without a Will.
“In another case, where an employee is declared missing and if is not found within a period of one year from the date he was declared missing, a board of inquiry is set up by the National Pension Commission (PenCom), which concludes that it is reasonable to presume that he has died, and in this case, the provisions of this section shall apply”
Nigeria Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) introduced by the Pension Reform Act 2004 and revised in 2014 recognises the importance of the contributor, his contribution and what happens to him while in employment. This is both alive and in death.
With this realisation that there is life and there is also death, the CPS has taken care of the contributor, directly or indirectly, should either of the two happen as long as the person has made his contribution through his employer.
Section 8 (1) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 states that where an employee dies, his entitlements under the life insurance policy maintained under section 4(5) of this Act shall be paid by an underwriter to the named beneficiary in line with section 57 of the insurance Act.
Subsection 2 states that, upon receipt of a valid will admitted to probate or a Letter of Administration, confirming the beneficiaries under the estate of the deceased employee, the Pension Fund Administrator(PFA) shall, with the approval of the Commission, release the amount standing in the retirement savings account of the decease to the personal representative of the deceased or to any other person as may be directed by a court of competent jurisdiction, in accordance with the terms of the will or the personal law of the deceased employee, as the case may be.
While this law is there to enhance the welfare of the contributor, there are a number of challenges which beneficiaries would have to contend with if there was no prior effort to address them before death occurs. This is the issue of having not a will or dying interstate.
One of the challenges, which families of the deceased pension contributor faces after the death of their loved one is the process of claiming his pension entitlements, making it important that a pension contributor should procure a ‘Will’ for management of his or her estate should the unexpected happen.
Ibezeago said that PFAs request for Next of Kin which is more like contact person in case of an urgency which may often times not be a beneficiary
When a person has dies,according to him, it is the Next of Kin that is contacted to inform the family and if a deceased has a Will already, it make the process easier but where there is no Will, the family will get a Letter of Administration from the High Court which will clearly state the beneficiary
More often than not, Next of Kin does not mean a beneficiary. It must be clearly stated where the Next of Kin happens to be the beneficiary as well.