FAQ's Pensions

Faq´s Faq´s

1. What is this new scheme?

The new scheme is a contributory, fully funded, privately managed pension scheme that is based on individual accounts. It ensures that everyone who has worked receives his retirement benefits as and when due.

2. How does it work?

An employee contributes a percentage of his salary and the employer contributes a percentage of the employees salary towards the retirement benefits of the employee.

3. What will happen to the contribution?

The total contribution will be paid out by the employer directly to a Pension Assets Custodian (PAC) and will be managed and invested by the Pension Fund Administrator (PFA), of the employees choice.

4. What does fully funded mean?

It means that the amount contributed by the employer and employee is actually paid to a Custodian and invested by the Pension Fund Administrator. This gives the employee immediate ownership of his/her pension benefits.

5. What is a Pension Fund Administrator?

A Pension Fund Administrator is an entity licensed by the National Pension Commission (Commission) and charged with the responsibility of managing and investing the pension funds. Each employee is free to choose a PFA.

6. What is a Pension Assets Custodian?

The Pension Assets Custodian is an entity licensed by the National Pension Commission to hold pension assets in safe custody.

7. What minimum financial resources must a Pension Assets Custodian possess?

An applicant Custodian must be a licensed financial institution with a minimum net worth of N5,000,000,000 unimpaired by losses and has a total assets of N125,000,000,000 or is wholly owned by a licensed financial institution with similar financial resources. This is to ensure the safety of the funds considering the huge amount of funds to be warehoused by the Custodians.

8. How do I know which PFA to choose?

The Commission will have a schedule of all licensed PFAs, which will be made available to the public.

9. What is the difference between a PFA and a custodian?

The PFA manages the pension funds and decides which kind of investments to make while the Custodian holds the pension funds assets and acts to the order of the PFA.

10. Are pension contributions paid to the PFA?

No. The employer sends his contribution as well as the employees contribution directly to the Custodian.

11. How about individual accounts?

This is similar to a bank account. Every contributor will open Retirement Savings Account (RSA) with a Pension Fund Administrator of his choice. The PFA will be required to issue a statement of account at least once every quarter.

12. Can I switch PFAs?

Yes. The employee has the freedom to, not more than once a year, transfer his/her Retirement Savings Account (RSA) from one PFA to another.

13. What happens to my account when I change jobs?

Nothing happens. The accounts are portable and will remain with you for life. You simply notify your new employer of the PFA that manages your account and thereafter your contributions will be sent to its Custodian.

14. How much will I need to contribute?

A minimum of seven and a half percent of your monthly basic salary, housing and transport allowances except for the Military which requires two and one half percent.

15. How much will my employer contribute?

A minimum of seven and a half percent of your monthly basic salary, housing and transport allowances except for the Military which is twelve and one half percent. However, the employer may elect to bear the full burden of the scheme provided that the total contribution shall not be less than fifteen percent of the monthly basic salary, housing and transport allowances of the employee.

16. Will this lead to a decrease in my salary?

No. You just save a part of your pay towards your old age and the employer contributes his portion.

17. Will this involve everyone that works?

Yes, with the exception of existing pensioners, those who have 3 years or less to retire as well as categories of persons under S.291 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. Employees in the private sector who are in employment in an organisation in which there are five or more employees are also covered.

18. How does this differ from the existing scheme?

The existing scheme in the public service is one of Defined Benefits. Pension payments are not regular and in some cases never made. The new scheme is a Defined Contribution Scheme, which ensures that pension payments are made monthly, just like salaries thereby making it more sustainable.

19. What is the difference between the defined benefit scheme and the defined contributory scheme?

Whereas the Defined Benefit pegs the amount a retiree could receive, the new scheme, based on Defined Contribution (DC), is a function of the level of an employee and employers contribution in addition to returns on investment. Under the DC, the pension is immediately funded as funds exist from the outset and payments will be made as and when due.

20. How will I benefit?

You have the assurance that your old age is well catered for and that in the event of death your family will have something to fall back on.

21. Who is the regulator, and what is its role?

The National Pension Commission is charged with the regulation and supervision of the pension schemes as well as the powers to formulate, direct and oversee the overall policy on pension matters in Nigeria.

22. How can I be sure that my contributions are safe?

All those administering or holding pension funds will be properly licensed and continually regulated and supervised by the Commission. The Commission is empowered to sanction and if need be prosecute defaulting operators.

23. How can I keep track of my investments?

Pension Fund Administrators will issue regular statements to employees. You can equally track the progress of your investment online.

24. When will I have access to this money?

Upon either retirement or at the age of 50, whichever falls later.

25. Can I withdraw any portion of it?

Yes, upon the later of either retirement or reaching the age of 50, and then only to the extent that what is left is sufficient to guarantee that at least 50% of your last salary will be paid to you monthly through an annuity or a programmed withdrawal. If an employee retires before the age of 50 years in accordance with the terms and conditions of his employment, he or she may withdraw a lump sum of money not more than 25% of the amount standing to his credit of RSA provided that such withdrawals shall only be made after six months of retirement and the retired employee does not secure another employment.

26. What happens to the balance?

The balance is used to procure an annuity or fund a programmed withdrawal.

27. What is programmed withdrawal?

A programmed withdrawal is the method by which the employee collects his accumulated benefits in periodic sums for the length of an estimated life span.

28. What is an annuity?

An annuity is an income purchased from a licensed life insurance company approved by the Commission with monthly or quarterly payments during the lifetime of a retiree.

29. What is the retirement age in the act?

The Act did not stipulate a Retirement Age. That is entirely dependant on each employees terms and conditions of service.

30. What is the minimum period required by an employee to qualify for pension under the act?

There is no minimum period required to qualify for pension as each employee has his individualized Retirement Savings Account. Withdrawal from the account is, however, limited to retirement according to an employees condition of service or attainment of the age of 50.

31. What happens if a PFA fails?

Your savings will not be affected as the Pension Fund Custodian keeps the funds. Moreover, Pension Funds will be invested in a diversified portfolio of investments including Government Securities, Stocks and Real Estate.

32. Who can I complain to if I am not satisfied?

The National Pension Commission.

33. What is the role of the government?

The government has set up a specialist Regulator of pension schemes and appointed the members of the board of the Regulator. Government will not temper with the savings, as it will not have access to them. In fact, the Government shall be primarily concerned with ensuring the safety of the savings through the establishment of the Commission.

34. How will the economy benefit?

There will be a huge pool of long-term funds available for investments, which will form a foundation for economic development.

35. What happens to the retirement benefits of an employee who is already under a pension scheme existing before the commencement of the Pension Reform Act 2004?

Employees right to accrued pension for past service is guaranteed by the Act. In the case of the Public Service of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory where the Scheme is unfunded, the right shall be acknowledged through a Federal Government Retirement Bond which shall be redeemed upon the retirement of the employee. In anticipation of the redemption of the Bond, the Federal Government shall establish a Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund at the Central Bank of Nigeria into which it shall pay 5% of the total monthly wage payable to its employees on a monthly basis. However, in the case of funded schemes and the private sector, employers shall credit the Retirements Savings Accounts of its employees with any funds to which each employee is entitled to and in the event of deficiency, the shortfall shall become a debt and treated with same priority as salaries owed. The employer shall also issue a written acknowledgement of the debt and take steps to meet the shortfall.

36. What will happen to existing private sector pensioners?

Pension Boards in Private Sector already in existence will continue to administer their pensions and the Commission will supervise them. Departments have also been created to carry out the functions of the relevant Pension Boards or offices in the Public Service to ensure regular and prompt payment of pension benefits.

37. Will private sector schemes continue to exist?

Yes, if they can show that the schemes are fully funded at all times and any shortfall is made up within 90 days. The pension funds and assets must be segregated from the assets of the Employer/Company and held by a licensed Custodian. The employer must have also effectively managed pension fund assets for at least 5 years before the commencement of the Act, and have met certain criteria set by the Commission.

38. What is a closed PFA?

It is similar to a licensed PFA, except that it is for a particular pension scheme. Employers managing pension fund assets of N500,000,000 and above may apply to the Commission for a closed PFA license to enable them administer their own schemes.

39. What if my scheme has less than N500,000,000 pension fund assets? Can I still keep it?

Yes, you can still maintain the scheme but it will have to be administered by a PFA.

40. Is the scheme optional?

Not for those contemplated by the law. It is only those that are exempted by law that have a choice as to whether or not to join.

41. Will gratuity be paid under the new scheme?

Yes, but under different arrangement. A retiree can draw a lump sum from the balance of his Retirement Savings Account provided the balance after the withdrawal could provide an annuity or fund monthly payments that would not be less than 50% of his monthly pay as at the date of his retirement. The employer may pay gratuity over and above the Scheme payments.

42. Will inflation and devaluation not erode the value of the contributions?

The job of the PFAs is to administer the contributions and invest in such a manner that will safely ensure reasonable returns. Furthermore, the Commission would ensure prudent management of pension assets through supervision and regulation. In addition, the different layers of compensation provided would outperform such erosion if they occur.

43. What is the minimum value of pension guaranteed by the new scheme?

The value of the minimum pension guarantee is to be determined from time to time by Commission.

44. What is the guarantee that the accruals in the scheme will be well managed and not diverted to other ends?

The functions of the PFA and Custodian are so clearly delineated that it is difficult for either to misuse the pension funds and assets to the detriment of the contributor. Further more, the Commission would be unrelenting in protecting contributors fund through effective regulation and supervision of the PFAs and Custodians.

45. Some persons consider that the composition of the proposed national pension commission is dominated by government appointees. Is there adequate provision for good representation of all stakeholders on the commission?

Yes. In addition to the government representatives, other stakeholders such as Labour, the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association are also members of the Commission.

46. Transparency, accountability and good governance are prerequisites for a thriving and effective administration of pension funds. Does the act reflect the application of these principles?

Yes. The new scheme entrenches the principles of good governance. The scheme would be regulated and supervised by an independent Commission and would be managed by private sector operators. An employee can choose who manages his Retirement Savings Account including receiving a statement of his account quarterly with details of contributions made and returns on investment.

47. Why establish independent PFAs rather than allow existing financial institutions with proven experience in pension funds management to apply for licence from the commission?

The safety of the pension funds is paramount. It is, therefore, imperative that the operators are single purpose vehicles dealing with pension funds management and investment only. It also ensures that the PFAs do not mix pension matters with other businesses, as this will hinder effective regulation and supervision.

48. How is NSITF affected?

NSITF shall establish a PFA, which will manage Pension Funds and will continue to provide services other than pension to the nation. It will also be regulated and supervised by the Commission. NATIONAL PENSION COMMISSION JULY 2004