top of page

Social media: Women's claim to R21 million

Updated: Apr 24

Demystifying Death Benefit Payments from Retirement Funds in South Africa: Understanding Section 37C of the Pension Funds Act.

Couple sitting

In recent times, a notable case of an insurance company's reluctance to pay out a person has sparked significant debate on social media platforms. However, delving deeper into the intricacies of the matter, as highlighted in a recent article on Moneyweb, reveals a more nuanced narrative. It's imperative to sift through the facts to dispel any misconceptions that may have arisen from the online uproar.

group walking together

The case in question involves a woman who was the life partner of a businessman and sought to claim a portion of his death benefit, amounting to approximately R21 million. The dispute was brought before the Pension Funds Adjudicator, the regulatory authority overseeing retirement funds in South Africa. Notably, the beneficiaries named in the deceased's policy were his two biological daughters.

Central to the adjudicator's deliberation was the exclusion of the woman as a beneficiary from the death benefit. However, a critical detail often overlooked in the social media discourse was that she had previously signed a cohabitation agreement, relinquishing her entitlement to a share of the deceased's pension fund, investments, profits, and other retirement assets.

father and son cycling in the rain

What clients MUST know about Beneficiaries:

Understanding the mechanisms governing insurance policies is paramount for clients navigating such matters. Broadly, insurance policies can be categorized into two types: Life Cover policies and Retirement funds.

Life Cover policies typically honor the nominations made by the policyholder regarding beneficiaries. (subject to insurance law and regulations).

However, when it comes to Pension, Provident, or retirement annuities, a distinct set of regulations come into play. Each of these retirement vehicles operates under the oversight of a board of trustees tasked by the Pension Funds Act with the equitable distribution of retirement assets. It's essential to grasp the following key points when it comes to pension benefits:

  1. Nomination of Beneficiaries: While you have the autonomy to nominate beneficiaries for your retirement benefits, these nominations undergo thorough scrutiny by the trustees of the fund, when a claim is lodged.

  2. Trustees' Discretion: The board of trustees holds the authority to alter the ultimate distribution of benefits. Their decision-making process prioritizes the best interests and financial needs of actual dependents, such as children, and financial dependents, individuals whom you support financially on a regular basis. Some other things that they must consider is maintenance orders for minors as well.

  3. Consideration of Wishes: While your preferences regarding beneficiary nominations are considered, they are secondary to the trustees' primary obligation of ensuring the financial welfare of dependents.

Navigating the complexities of death benefit payments from retirement funds requires a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory framework, particularly Section 37C of the Pension Funds Act. By elucidating the roles of trustees and the factors influencing distribution decisions, individuals can make informed decisions regarding beneficiary nominations and estate planning.

Momentum distributed a nice guide to how Section 37C works. Take a look by clicking on the link below.

Download • 198KB

For further insights into the social media saga, the full article from Moneyweb is available for reference [here].

In conclusion, while social media platforms may amplify grievances and controversies, a closer examination of underlying facts often reveals a more nuanced reality. By shedding light on the legal and procedural aspects governing death benefit payments, individuals can better protect their financial interests and ensure the welfare of their loved ones.

Reach out to us with any questions that you might have?

Your Financial Partner


bottom of page