Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are provided to facilitate a better understanding of the Regulations and Rules of the UNJSPF. If there are any doubts or inconsistencies that arise from the following text, the Regulations and Rules shall apply.


Q: Who is a participant, who is a beneficiary?

A: The term Participant is most frequently used by the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) in referring to active staff members, whose eligibility to participate in the Fund has been determined in accordance with article 21 of the Regulations and Rules of the UNJSPF. Although it generally refers to those staff members who are actively contributing a percentage of their pensionable salary (7.9%) to the Fund, the term also incorporates those staff members who are on officially approved leave, with or without pay. The term beneficiary is used by the UNJSPF in referring to former Fund participants who have officially separated from service and are entitled to periodic benefits from the Fund. The term is also used in reference to any spouse, child or secondary dependant, who by virtue of a former staff member's participation in the Fund, is entitled to receive a periodic benefit from the Fund.


Q: When can I retire?

A: You may retire if you have a minimum of five years of contributory service, and if you have reached normal retirement age (see article 28); you may also retire prior to your normal retirement age if you are at least 55 (early retirement) however, your benefit would be reduced in accordance with article 29 of the Regulations of the Fund.


Q: What is the normal retirement age? What is the early retirement age?

A: Normal retirement age is 60 for people who joined the Pension Fund before 1 January 1990 and 62 for those who joined on or after 1 January 1990. Early retirement age is any age between 55 and normal retirement age.


Q: Explaining the difference between:


  • The Mandatory Age of Separation is set by the Staff Regulations of the employing Organization.

  • The age at which a staff member must separate from the service of his/her employing organization as determined by the Staff Regulations and Rules of that organization.

  • Your employing organization, NOT the Pension Fund, regulates at what age you MUST separate from service. The Fund has no say in and no objection to your staying in active service after having reached NRA. You will simply accumulate additional Contributory Service.
  • The Normal Retirement Age for Pension Fund purposes (NRA) is set by the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules.
  • The normal age of retirement, i.e. the age at which a retiring participant would be entitled to a retirement benefit unreduced on account of age as determined by the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules.
  • For the UNJSPF Normal Retirement Age is either age 60, or 62 for participants who entered or re-entered the Fund on or after 01 January 1990 or 65 for those who entered or re-entered on or after 01 January 2014.
  • The Pension Fund regulates which pension benefit you are entitled to and at what rate at the time of separation from service; your benefit option/s and amount depend on your age at the time of separation.



Q: I am leaving my organization, however, I'm younger than 55. Will I still be able to receive a benefit from UNJSPF?

Yes. If you have more than five years of contributory service and you are younger than 55, you may still choose to receive a periodic pension benefit from the UNJSPF. This is called a deferred retirement benefit . It should be noted that payment of this benefit shall commence at your normal retirement age; however, it can also begin prior to the normal retirement age, if you so elect, provided you are at least age 55, and in such event it shall be reduced under the same conditions as specified in Article 29(b) of the Regulations of the Fund.
Q: What is a lump-sum and who is eligible to receive it?
A: Once you become eligible to receive a retirement benefit, part of the benefit can be commuted into a lump sum which would be payable upon separation from service. The lump sum may not be greater than 1/3 of the actuarial equivalent of the full benefit and the remaining periodic benefit will be reduced accordingly. (see Retirement Benefit, paragraph 28(g)).

Q: * To take, or not to take, up to 1/3 lump sum?

A: Any retiree who elects to receive a benefit under Article 28 (Retirement benefit) or Article 29 (Early Retirement Benefit) has an option to partially commute his/her benefit into a lump-sum to be paid upon separation from service and the balance to be paid as a reduced monthly pension. If selecting the lump sum option, the Fund will automatically pay the maximum lump-sum allowed (i.e., the actuarial equivalent of 1/3 of the benefit OR the total of one’s own contributions with compounded interest, whichever is greater. The retiree may, however, choose a lesser amount as a lump-sum by specifically indicating such amount in the PENS.E/7 payment instructions form.

As the decision whether to take a lump-sum or not must be based on various personal circumstances (i.e., the state of your health and expected longevity of life, your marital status, your comfort level with investing and managing a large sum of money and/or the impact of national tax legislation on your pension benefits, etc.), it must be made by each retiree personally after weighing all the different points. Since there are many factors that may influence the choice, the Fund can do no more than set out some of the basic points that should be considered when making your decision. Again, it must be stressed that you may commute less than the maximum lump-sum allowed; but for purposes of simplicity this text refers to the maximum commutation. Once acted upon by the Fund and payment is implemented, your decision and choice is considered irrevocable.


  • You would receive a sizeable sum of money that may be useful towards some major expenditure such as buying a residence or paying off a debt;
  • If you pass away before your spouse, your surviving spouse would still get half of your full standard pension even though you took a large portion of your entitlement in a lump sum;
  • As your monthly pension payments would be smaller, your income tax liability on such payments would be smaller as well;
  • In most (but not all) countries, the lump sum itself would be free of tax, though not the dividends and interest it yields;
  • You could invest the lump sum money in a way that would give you a better rate of return than by leaving it in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund as a full periodic benefit;


  • You would have a smaller monthly pension to live on;
  • You would forego future cost-of-living adjustments on one-third of your pension;
  • You would take on the risks and costs associated with investing and managing your lump sum money instead of leaving such risks and costs with the Pension Fund;
  • If you are living in a country that taxes UN pensions on less than their full amount, or not at all, proceeds from the invested lump sum would still be taxed at their full value, and the capital itself may be included in your assessment for wealth tax, if there is one;
  • The lump sum portion of your pension benefit would not yield any extra adjustment that might be available under the two-track option. If a cost-of-living differential (COLD) factor or more favourable rate of exchange is applied to raise the initial local-currency track pension, these adjustments would only affect the periodic benefit payment, not the lump sum.


  1. The Lump Sum is always calculated and paid in US dollars. If you want it in local currency, it will be converted at the current exchange rate applied by your bank. If you want to keep it in US dollars, be sure you have already opened an account in US dollars and that this account is the one indicated on your payment instructions form.
  2. Should you be contemplating opting for a Full Withdrawal Settlement under article 31 of the Regulations of the Fund, you should do so only after having considered this option very carefully. In this connection, it must be stressed that the full withdrawal option would extinguish the right to all other entitlements from the Fund. In other words, anyone separating with five or more years of contributory service who has not yet reached normal retirement age should consider selecting this option most carefully, as you would be forgoing the right to a life time annuity and a potential life time annuity that may be paid in respect to any eligible surviving spouse.
  3. National tax laws, especially those relating to pensions, are exceedingly complex and diverse, and subject to frequent change. Consequently, the United Nations is not able to maintain up-to-date familiarity in this field or to give advice to individual participants, retirees or their survivors, or other beneficiaries of the UNJSPF. All recipients of UNJSPF benefits, including lump sum payments, must ascertain for themselves what their tax obligations may be.

Disclaimer: This information is made available for the convenience of the UNJSPF participants, retirees and other beneficiaries. If there is an ambiguity, inconsistency or conflict between the information provided above and the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules, any decisions will be based on the Regulations and Rules, and not on the information contained herein.

Back to FAQ

Q: What is the difference between a withdrawal settlement and a lump-sum?
A: Withdrawal settlement is a one-time payment that is paid to you when you choose not to receive ANY pension or other periodic benefit. Instead, you will receive all your contributions plus interest increased by 10 per cent for each year in excess of five up to a maximum of 100 per cent, if the contributory service is more than five years. It should be noted that a withdrawal settlement extinguishes all other rights to any other future benefits. A lump-sum, on the other hand, represents a portion of your periodic benefit, up to a maximum of 1/3 the actuarial equivalent of such a benefit, with the balance being paid to you in a periodic benefit.


Q: When and how can I make prior non-contributory service contributory?

A: If, before joining the Pension Fund, you had a period of service during which you were not a participant, you can, in certain circumstances, validate this non-contributory service (i.e., make it contributory), if you so choose and arrange to make the necessary contributions.

You must elect to validate within one year of first becoming a participant, or before the date of separation from service if that is earlier, and by completing the official form for the purpose, which you can obtain here, or from the secretary of your Staff Pension Committee. As there are a number of requirements which must be met, including important deadlines, you should not delay contacting the secretary of your Staff Pension Committee, if you believe you are eligible for this option.

Q: When and how can I make prior contributory service again pensionable?

A:  If you are a former participant with less than five years of contributory service who has received a withdrawal settlement from the Pension Fund, and you again become a participant, you can restore your prior pensionable service in the Fund, if you so choose, and make it contributory.

You must elect to restore not later than one year after rejoining the Fund as a participant or before the date of your separation from service, if that is earlier, and complete the official form for the purpose, which you can obtain here, or from the secretary of your Staff Pension Committee. As there are a number of requirements which must be met, including important deadlines, you should not delay contacting the secretary of your Staff Pension Committee, if you believe you are eligible for this option.

Q: If I die while still employed, will my spouse / child(ren) get a pension?
A: If a UN staff member, who is a participant of the UNJSPF, dies in service, the surviving spouse will be entitled to a widow's or widower's benefit, as the case may be, under articles 34 and 35 of the Fund's Regulations. A child's benefit, under article 36 of the Fund's Regulations is also payable to each child of the former participant who dies in service, while the child remains unmarried and under the age of 21. Benefits may also be payable in respect to children, over age 21, but only if they are found by the Board to have been incapacitated, by illness or injury, for substantial gainful employment. (See Articles 34, 35 and 36 of Regulations and Rules).


Q: I want to make sure that my spouse / child(ren) will be receiving a benefit if I die while in service. What do I need to do?

A: Here is what you as a staff member can do, while actively serving, to facilitate processing of your prospective survivor's benefits:

  • (i) ensure that the Fund has on record your duly completed and up to date "Designation of Recipient of a Residual Settlement" form (Pens. A/2);

  • (ii) ensure that your annual statement, as distributed each year, accurately reflects your date of birth, marital status and number of children; if it does not, you should provide the correct information to your Personnel Officer, who should, in turn, advise the Fund;

  • (iii) ensure that your prospective survivor(s) is aware that, in the event that you predecease that survivor, the Fund will need an original death certificate (i.e. not a medical certificate) or a certified copy of the death certificate as issued by local authorities, and an original, duly completed and signed payment instruction form (Pens. E/2);

  • (iv) ensure that your spouse(s) or other prospective survivor(s) have available copies of all relevant birth certificates (i.e. for you, for themselves and for each child under age 21); copies of any relevant marriage certificates and/or divorce decrees should also be available.


Q: If I die while receiving a pension benefit, will my spouse and/or child(ren) receive any benefit?

A: Yes, a benefit may be payable to your surviving spouse provided he/she was married to you at the time of your death and provided that your benefit was NOT a partial deferred benefit (i.e., separation from service before reaching retirement age and election of a lump-sum plus reduced deferred benefit). All other types of periodic benefits (full retirement, partial retirement, full early retirement, partial early retirement, and full deferred) will provide a survivor's benefit. In the event a beneficiary dies (death-after-service), the surviving spouse's benefit will normally be half the retirement, early retirement or disability benefit being paid or payable at the time of the beneficiaries death, without regards to any possible partial lump-sum commutation. Any child(ren)'s benefit(s) that were being paid while the beneficiary was receiving his/her benefit, will continue to be paid, as long as the child(ren) continue to be eligible for the benefit (see Articles 34, 35 and 36 of Regulations and Rules).


Q: What happens with my pension when I die if I am not married and have no children?

A: This depends whether you were still in service or already receiving a pension. If you were still working, a payment will be made to the person(s) of your choice. This payment, which will consist of all your contributions plus interest is called a residual settlement (see Article 38).

If you completed the form A2 (Designation of recipient of a residual settlement form), the residual settlement will be paid to the person(s) specified thereon. However, if you did not submit this form, settlement shall be paid to your estate. If you were receiving a benefit at the time of your death, the settlement shall consist of your own contributions plus interest up to the date of your separation from service, reduced by the total amount of the benefits paid to you during your retirement. The balance, if any, will be paid to the person(s) designated in the A2 form,or to your estate, as the case may be.


Q: How do I apply for child(ren)'s benefit?

A: There is no need to apply for a child's benefit. These benefits are automatically calculated and paid for every eligible child, in accordance with Article 36. Upon your reaching normal retirement age, you will automatically begin receiving a benefit for every child that was born while you were in service, and that is unmarried and under 21 years of age. These benefits will continue to be paid to you as long as the child(ren) are unmarried and under 21.


Q:I left my organization in 1991 and chose a deferred retirement benefit. I had a child in 1995. Will this child be eligible for a child's benefit when I reach retirement age and begin receiving my benefit?

A: No. You can only receive child(ren)'s benefit(s) for children that were born while you were still in service and/or who were in utero at the time of your separation.


Q: I have heard of an important document that retirees sign and return to the Fund every year.  What is it ? and how do I obtain a copy ? 

A: This is one of the most essential documents for retirees. It allows the Fund to determine whether you are still entitled to your benefit. Every year following your separation, the Fund sends a Certificate of Entitlement to the address as recorded in our records. The first letter is generally sent in October and a reminder is sent out 45 days later.  It is therefore of utmost importance to ascertain that the address we have for you in our files is up to date. 

The Fund carries out an annual review of the CEs returned and those that are still outstanding. Additional follow-ups are made in respect to the outstanding CEs and if the Fund finds no explanation for the non-receipt of a beneficiary's CE, the pension payment may be suspended, generally as of 1 April.

You should note that if by the end of December you have not received your CE, you can contact our offices in either Geneva or New York depending on your location. We shall take the necessary action in order to avoid suspending your benefit payment. 

 You may view the document by clicking here

Q: I am a participant to the Fund and have difficulties understanding the information provided in the Annual Statement. 
A: You can learn all about it by clicking here.


Q: I am a retiree of the Fund and have difficulties understanding the information provided in the Quarterly Statement. 

A: You can learn all about it by clicking here
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