South Africa is sitting with R47 billion in unclaimed pensions – here’s how to see if you can claim

South Africa continues to see a huge amount of unclaimed pension fund benefits, with billions of rands owed to approximately five million members.

The figure was first reported at R42 billion in 2020, but has subsequently increased to R47.3 billion in 2021, a report published by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on Tuesday (5 April) shows.

“80% of the unclaimed funds are with trade union-affiliated pension funds and the majority of these unpaid members are low-income miners,” the regulator said.

“The key reason for the high level of unclaimed funds is that members change jobs without updating their personal information, and they lack the financial literacy to understand the implications, and administrators also have poor records of their member base. Asset managers and fund administrators continue to earn fees from these unclaimed assets.”

The FSCA said some progress has been made towards the repossession of unclaimed benefits over the last year, with the regulator’s unclaimed benefits search engine helping over 14,000 individuals receive payments worth approximately R1.2 billion.

The National Treasury has also announced plans to introduce legislation to consolidate unclaimed benefits in the retirement industry and establish a single registry.

“The FSCA continues to prioritise the fair treatment of customers, and through the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) directive, the regulatory body hopes to further reduce unclaimed benefits in the future.”

How to search if you are a beneficiary

The registrar of pension funds provides a central database on the FSCA website to assist members of the public to ascertain through the search engine if there are any unclaimed benefits due to them.

An enquirer will be required to input basic information onto the unclaimed benefits search engine, such as a person’s name, surname, identification number, fund name, and name of employer.

On a successful match, the enquirer will be provided with the contact detail of the fund and/or administrator, the FSCA said,

The FSCA said it can only assist by providing the contact details of the relevant fund and/or administrator whereafter the enquirer will have to contact the fund directly and then follow the normal claims process of a fund to prove a valid claim.

Alternatively, the following search channels can be used to search for unclaimed benefits:

Search channel Contact details
Online searches – FSCA website Click here to search for unclaimed benefits…
Email enquiry – ID number [email protected]
Email enquiry – general request [email protected]
SMS enquiry – ID number 30913
SMS enquiry – general request 30766
Fax submissions 086 578 1183
Toll-free telephone enquiries 0800 20 3722 (toll-free)
Walk-in clients River Walk Office Park, Block B, 41 Matroosberg Road, Ashlea Gardens
Written enquiries PO Box 35655 Menlo Park Pretoria 0102

Read: SARS is sending this letter to people who leave South Africa – what you should know

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South Africa is sitting with R47 billion in unclaimed pensions – here’s how to see if you can claim