What is an Invalidity Pension?

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By Meluse Kapatamoyo


According to law, retirement age for a Zambian worker is 55, but accidents and illnesses can sometimes render someone unfit to hold a job. This means loss of income which can cause a lot of anxiety. It is for this reason that Invalidity Pension was created – to cushion members against loss of capacity to engage in substantial gainful employment.


If I am unable to work do I qualify?


  • You qualify if you have made a minimum of 60 months of contribution to the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA).


  • In addition, a medical board will need to determine your disability and inability to engage in substantial gainful employment. 


However, according to NAPSA, disability per se is not a sufficient condition for eligibility to an Invalidity benefit.


“In arriving at a determination of invalidity, the Medial Board will use any means at its disposal including community sources, treating physicians, examining physicians, laboratory tests and psychological tests,” says NAPSA.


The claimant must also meet the Recency Test.


What is the Recency Test?


According to NAPSA Regulations, you need to have made at least 12 monthly contributions within the last 36 months before claiming Invalidity Pension. Therefore, the Recency Test refers to a worker’s commitment towards paying their contribution during the required period to when the claim is made.


What happens next?


The authority, through its medical board would then put into consideration, the claimant’s age, education and work experience. Because NAPSA’s definition of the terms “disabled” and “invalidity” differs from normal and medical usage, a physician’s report that a claimant is disabled does not translate into an invalidity award.


Therefore, if the medical board is unable to certify that the claimant is disabled, thus not suffering from invalidity, it is making a claim about the individual’s ability to work despite their physical or mental condition.


Disability as defined by NAPSA under the Act


The claimant is required to show that a physical or mental impairment prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful employment, now and in the foreseeable future.


They should have an extreme impairment which makes it impossible for them to do the job they were employed to do or engage in any other substantial gainful employment. 


And how does NAPSA define substantial gainful employment?


This is employment which involves significant physical of mental effort, which can include part-time work. It is also any activity that results in a payment or profit, whether or not any earnings are realised. However, an activity can be seen as not being gainful if it does not provide more than K15, 000 monthly or as determined by the Minister through a statutory instrument.


Do all disabled workers automatically qualify for an Invalidity Pension?


Although the Invalidity Pension was created to cushion workers, who due to physical or mental disability are unable to continue working, the process between submitting a claim and getting positive feedback requires you meet all the conditions under the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA). 


For those that don’t meet the requirements, not all hope is lost.


What happens if a person is disabled but fails to qualify for an Invalidity Pension? 


In such cases, the authority pays a Lump Sum invalidity benefit to workers whose contributions did not exceed 60 months and who fail to meet the Recency Test.


In short, the Invalidity Lump Sum benefit goes to a member who becomes mentally or physically disabled and has not reached pensionable age.  It also goes to a member who has made less than 60 months contributions.  


Remember that the Invalidity Lump Sum benefit is a one-off payment. 


What you need to know before making a claim


  • The medical board should give you a recommendation to certify that you are incapacitated.


  • You also need a certified medical discharge letter from your employer.

I qualify.How much is an Invalidity Pension worth?


In its act, the Invalidity Pension consists of the general pension component and a credit for years presumed lost due to invalidity. Therefore NAPSA credits the worker with one-half of one percent of his or her indexed monthly earnings for each year lost. 


Years lost are calculated years that would elapse between the invalidity claim and the day the claimant would reach pensionable age.


How long can I receive the Invalidity Pension? 


Invalidity Pension will be paid until the death of a member or when they reach retirement age at which point they will be moved on to a Retirement Pension.


At its discretion, the authority can terminate the Invalidity Pension being paid to a member if it is found the person is able to engage in substantial gainful employment.


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