WORKER'S COMPENSATION CORNER with MAYBIN NKHOLOMBA
BEST practice on social security administration demands that payments of monthly pensions for old age or employment induced disability should be made at the right time to the right person and in the right sum.
In order for payments to be made to the right person, there is need for confirmation of the life status of the eligible person. Therefore, this week we focus on an important activity affecting this area of service delivery to workers and their immediate families for disabilities and death attributed to employment related activities. This comes in light of the need to provide more information on the media notices that we have placed on the life certificates.
At the beginning of every financial year, and at several other intervals in a given year, in the case of other social security schemes in the country, there is a notice to all beneficiaries on renewal of life certificates. The notice from Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB) is normally carried on community radio stations, the medium of choice for most of our beneficiaries, as they tend to connect well with community radio stations compared to television and newspapers.
The notice emphasises that beneficiaries should complete life certificates for the purpose of payment of compensation benefits for a given calendar year. Failure to complete life certificates normally results in suspension of payment of compensation benefits. And this year, suspension of monthly pension payments will be effected in August, 2017. All beneficiaries currently receiving compensation benefits are required to complete life certificates.
A life certificate is the only document that confirms existence or life status of a person eligible for monthly pensions. The validity period for a life certificate is twelve (12) months and all beneficiaries are required to renew certificates at the end of the year to continue drawing monthly pensions in this case for employment related injuries. We have brought out this information in this column fully aware that not many of our beneficiaries have access to media such as the Zambia Daily Mail but we understand that a certain section of readers will probably have connections with our beneficiaries.
Readers will appreciate that WCFCB has registered a total of 22,795 beneficiaries all of whom are required to complete life certificates in order to continue drawing monthly pensions. However, many of those beneficiaries have not been completing life certificates. It should be appreciated that payments are only made to members whose life status is known by WCFCB and in the event that a life certificate is not completed, payments are automatically suspended. Hence we would like to appeal to our beneficiaries through this column to ensure that they complete life certificates for the calendar year 2017.
And let me use this opportunity to provide an answer to a member of society who raised concern over non eligibility of an administrator of an estate to qualify for payment of compensation. Survivors’ benefits are paid only to a surviving spouse or spouses where a deceased worker was married to more than one wife and biological children up to the age of eighteen years. Even if the surviving spouse is not the appointed administrator of the estate for the deceased worker, compensation benefits are paid to the surviving spouse and not to the administrator. Survivors’ benefits otherwise known as widows or widowers pension are paid for life to a widow or widower. The payments only cease in the event of remarriage and upon payment of gratuity. We have attended to issues of this nature in the past and we found it necessary to clarify through this column in order to help interested members of our society who may be in this situation. There could be other issues that we may not have addressed in this article but about which readers may need clarification, hence our invitation to contact us on the address below.
Readers may also be interested to know that complaints and compliments on service quality regarding delivery of compensation services by WCFCB can now be submitted to us on the same address. A service charter has now been approved by the board of directors which provides an opportunity for us to share with clients lead times on all our services, and all other matters that go with it. We shall share the contents in due course.
Next week, we will look at sports and how the workers compensation system treats injuries sustained whilst performing various sporting disciplines. There are several cases of injuries reported in the media about football players and other sports men and women yet there is little shared on what happens to them. Are sports men and women also entitled to compensation? Follow us next week.
The author is Head – Communications & Customer Services at Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board