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Pensions – getting money when you are old


A pension is money that you get when you are old and no longer work. Most people get pensions from the government. We are going to tell you how government pensions work.

Some businesses have private pension funds for their workers. Private pensions have different rules. If you are paying money for a private pension fund, you must know how it works. If you do not know how it works, ask your union or your employers to tell you.

The government pays pensions to women over 60 years of age and men over 65 years. Pensions are not a gift from the government — the law says all old people must get pensions. Pensions come from the taxes that people pay. But sometimes people have big problems with their pensions.


When you ask for your pension, you must talk to the District Pensions Officer. In big towns there is a special person who does this work. But in small towns and on the farms, the magistrate or the Commissioner is the Pensions Officer.

District Pensions Officers have clerks who help them. The work of the clerks is to help people with the pension forms — the clerks cannot decide who gets a pension. The District Pensions Officer decides this.

If a pensioner is too sick or too old to go to the Pensions Office, then the clerk must come and visit the pensioner at home.


When you go to ask for your pension, you must take your reference book with you, or your passport if you come from a “homeland”.

You must also show where you live. To do this, you must have a house or a lodger’s permit. Or you must have a section 10 1(a), (b) or (c) stamp in your reference book.

Even if you come from another country like Swaziland, you can get a pension in South Africa. You must show that you lived in South Africa for more than five years.

If you live on a farm, but not in a homeland, you need a stamp in your pass or a letter from the owner of the farm. The letter must say that you can live on the farm.

If you live in the “homelands”, you must get a letter from your chief or headman. The letter must say that you live in his area. Sometimes the Pensions Officer will say that he wants to see the headman. Then the headman must go with you to the pension office.


You must show that you are old enough to get a pension. Your birth certificate shows your age. But many old people do not have birth certificates. You can use a baptism certificate or a marriage certificate. New reference books also have your age in them.

If you do not have any of these papers, you must get a letter from a doctor to say how old you are. If your age in your reference book is wrong, you can also get a letter from a doctor. You must also get an affidavit — a signed letter — from someone who knows your right age. People at a magistrate’s office will help you make an affidavit.


Once you have filled in all the forms, you can collect your pension. You will wait for two months to get your money. But often people wait longer.

If you get your pension from the main South African government, they must pay you from the time that you first asked for your pension. But in some “homelands”, they will only pay you from the time that they agree to pay your pension. Then you cannot know how much money you must get the first time.

Once the Pensions Officer says that you can get a pension, he puts a pension number into your reference book. When you collect your pension, they check the number in your book, and find your card. Then you sign your card, or put your thumb print on it. This shows that you got the money. Then they will give you the money.

You must count your money carefully before you leave. If you cannot count well, take someone to help you. Sometimes people do not get the right money.


When you ask for your pension, the clerk will want to know if you are getting any other money. They want to know:

  1. Are you working — and if you work, how much money do you get? If you are a man over seventy years or a woman over 65 years, they must not count the money you earn.

  2. Does your husband or wife work? If they do,then the clerk will count half of this money as your money.

  3. Do you get money from a private pension fund?

  4. Do you get money from lodgers or from your family?

  5. Do you get money from farming? If you do, they work out the money like this. One cow = R8,00 a year. A goat =50c a year, a bag of beans = R2,00 a year and a pumpkin = 2c a year. But if you farm with your wife or husband, they will only count half of the money from farming.

Once the Pensions Officer knows how much money you get, they add up how much pension you must get. If you get money from the main South African government, this chart tells you how much money you will get.

So, in South Africa if you get R22,50 a month you will get a full pension. But if you get in R45,00 a month you will get no pension. Remember that you only get your pension every second month.

In the homelands, there are different rules for the pensions. In Kwazulu, everyone gets the same money, it does not matter how much money you get in from other places. Everyone gets R65,00 per month.

In the Transkei, the pension is R52,00 a month. But if you get in R50 a month, you cannot get a pension at all.

In Bophuthatswana the pension is R40 per month. And if you get in R40,00 from somewhere else, you cannot get a pension at all.


If you do not ask for your pension when you turn 60 if you are a woman, or 65 if you are a man, you must get extra money. This chart will tell you how much extra money you must get.

People who are over 85 years, or people who are so sick that they need someone to look after them, can get an extra R10. This is called an attendance allowance.


If you are too old or too sick to fetch your pension, you can ask someone to fetch it for you. This person is called a PROCURATOR. If you want someone to fetch your pension, then you must write a letter. The letter must say that this person is going to help you.

If you do this, they will check your pension from time to time. They will want to know that you are still alive. Then the clerk must come to your house or you must go to the pensions office. If your pension stops while they are checking on you, they must pay you all the money for the time that they stopped it.


If someone in your family is getting a pension and they die, you must tell the pension officer. But they must pay the pension to the end of the month that the pensioner died in. This money is to help pay for the funeral.


If you have a problem with your pension, you must ask for help. You can write a letter to the Secretaries for Health, Welfare and Pensions.


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