The Covid-19 pandemic has placed additional financial pressure on South Africans. If you are being retrenched or having your hours cut, you might be pondering your options on pausing or cancelling retirement fund or medical aid payments.

Pension and provident fund payments

Pension and provident contributions shouldn’t be stopped as long as you are paid an income, as they are based on your salary. If you are not receiving a salary, then no contributions will be deducted and the lockdown shouldn’t affect your contributions. If your salary is reduced during the lockdown, your contributions will also be less because they are a percentage of your salary.

Even if contribution rates can be changed on a fund, this can usually only happen once a year, or as set out in the rules of your retirement fund.

Retirement annuity payments

With regard to retirement annuities (RAs), older policies could have a penalty when you make your policy paid up, as it recoups upfront advice and set-up costs over the period of your policy. New-generation RAs are more flexible normally, as the broker is only paid as and when and it is likely that you can stop the premium without incurring penalties and then just restart the contributions once your cash flow is better. You can’t access the RAs accumulated values until retirement age.

Risk insurance policies for death and disability cover

Your risk insurance policies covering death, disability and other associated benefits are important to maintain during this time. If you are experiencing financial difficulties in funding this cover, chat to your financial adviser to help with discussions with your underwriter to determine if they have any temporary relief strategies in place during this time. This cover is essential for you and your dependents in the event of claim.

Medical aid payments

Covid-19 is a prescribed minimum benefit, and while it is understandable that many medical aid members will consider cancelling their medical scheme membership as a result of financial pressure from Covid-19, they will be able to access private healthcare should they require hospitalisation because of the virus.

Recently the Council of Medical Schemes issued a circular to confirm that all schemes are to regard Covid-19 as a prescribed minimum benefit and pay for the diagnosis and treatment of this condition in full as required by the Medical Schemes Act irrespective of plan type or option. This is to include the costs of all consultations, diagnostic tests, appropriate medication and hospitalization.

  • Buying down
  • Reducing the number of dependents
  • Consider the consequences of cancelling your membership.

For information about COVID-19 in South Africa, visit the Department of Health’s website here, and for general COVID-19 information, visit the WHO’s website here.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].