When do I become a participant in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF)?
As stipulated in article 21(a) of the UNJSPF Regulations, if you are a staff member of a UNJSPF member organization and are not expressly excluded from participation by the terms of your appointment, your participation commences upon your being granted an appointment for 6 months or more, OR upon completing 6 months of continuous service without an interruption of more than 30 days, whichever occurs first.
Is participation in the Fund optional?
No, participation in the Fund is mandatory once you fulfill the requirements of article 21(a) of the UNJSPF Regulations.
How do I enroll?
No action is required on your part. If you are a staff member of a UN family organization, your employing organization informs the Fund of your contractual status and family composition by issuing a personnel action form (PA). The Fund then enrolls you as a participant by assigning a pension number, which is subsequently relayed, to you through your Administrative/ Executive Office.
On the other hand, if you are a staff member of a specialized agency, e.g. FAO, the Secretary of the Staff Pension Committee of that Agency handles your participation in the Fund. The relevant information is forwarded to the Central Secretariat of the Fund for recording in the Fund’s Participants Data Base.
Note: Your pension number (identification number assigned by the Fund) is different from your index number (identification number assigned by your employing organization).
Do I have access to the information contained in my pension record?
The Pension Fund prepares a report annually (Annual Statement) that contains your personal and financial data as reported by your employing organization for the prior year. Effective from May 2004, the Annual Statement is available to you only on the Fund’s website.
It is important for you to review the Annual Statement and to contact your employing organization and/or the Pension Fund should any of the data generated appear to be inaccurate. Please remember that the Annual Statement reflects the personal and financial data reported by your employing organization(s) for the previous year(s). Thus the annual statement issued in May 2004 will contain data through 31 December 2003 and any changes in your circumstances, during 2004, will be reflected in your next annual statement available in May 2005.
Contributions and Calculations
What coverage do I get under the UNJSPF Pension Scheme and how is it determined?
You are covered against death and disability from the beginning of your participation. (Please see question 1 above). Upon separation from service, you will become entitled to a pension benefit based on your age and length of contributory service. For retirement, death and disability benefits, additional factors such as an average pensionable remuneration (PR) rate and a rate of accumulation are also taken into account. The rate of accumulation is the rate at which your retirement benefit accumulates for each year of contributory service. The rates vary with the date of your participation.
If your participation commenced before 1983 the rate of accumulation is 2 % of your average PR rate for the first 30 years of service and 1% thereafter. If your participation commenced on or after 1 January 1983 the rate of accumulation is 1.5% for the first five years, 1.75% for the next five years, 2%for the next twenty-five years and 1% thereafter. The maximum accumulation rate attainable is 70%. (See UNJSPF Separation Booklet for further information.) What is Pensionable Remuneration Rate? Your pensionable remuneration (PR) is that part of your salary, reported in US dollars, that is used to calculate contributions due to the Fund and the amount of the benefit you will ultimately receive.
For staff members in the General Service and other locally recruited categories whose salary is paid in a currency other than US dollars, the pensionable remuneration is the dollar equivalent of the gross pensionable salary (plus language allowance if applicable) converted to US dollars using the United Nations operational rate of exchange in effect each month; thus pensionable remuneration may vary from month to month. For staff members in the professional and higher categories, there is a single worldwide scale of PR. The scale is adopted by the General Assembly and, is up-dated periodically.
How are my contributions to the UNJSPF calculated?
Once you become a participant, contributions are automatically deducted from your salary each month and reported to the Fund on your behalf. The current deduction is 7.9% of your pensionable remuneration rate. Your employing organization’s portion is twice your amount, i.e. 15.8% of your pensionable remuneration rate. Thus a total of 23.7% of your pensionable remuneration is contributed to the UNJSPF.
Do I earn interest on my contributions?
Yes. Interest accrues at the rate of 3.25% per year while you remain an active participant. Interest accrues only until your separation date.
Does the Fund extend personal loans to participants?
No. There are no provisions in the Fund’s Regulations and Rules for making loans, or advance payments in anticipation of separation benefits, to participants. Furthermore, an active participant cannot receive any benefits and/or make any withdrawals from his/her pension contributions.
I understand that the UNJSPF is a defined benefit plan. What does that mean?
A defined benefit plan provides a participant with a percentage of final average remuneration at the time of retirement. For the UNJSPF other factors such as length of contributory service, age and rate of accumulation are also taken into account.
How do I update the personal information in my Pension record, e.g. marital status?
You should inform your employing organization which will in turn report the new information to the Fund by issuing a personnel action form (UN Family) or status report (Specialized Agency). Your pension record will then be updated and the change reflected in your next Annual Statement. Please remember that Annual Statements are issued only once a year!
Would the Fund share information contained in my pension record with a third party?
The Fund would provide limited information to a third party, only upon receiving your written permission to do so.
Re-Entering Service at the Fund
There was a period prior to the commencement of my participation during which I did not contribute to the Fund; do I pay contributions for that prior period of non-contributory service upon becoming a participant?
If you had a contract of less than six months you would not have been contributing to the UNJSPF. However, once your contract was extended and your period of service exceeded six months, you must contribute to the Fund. You may, however, validate the period when you were not contributing. This is optional. To validate a period of non-contributory service you would begin by submitting to the UNJSPF or a specialized agency, an application on form Pens.B/1 within one year of your entry/reentry into participation.
If you do not validate the period of non-contributory service, the effective date of your contributions will remain the same as the date you qualified for participation in accordance with article 21(a)(ii) of the Regulations. (See Validation Page regarding conditions and restrictions).
If I separate from service and a benefit is paid to me, may I return the payment that I received if I am subsequently reemployed with a member organization and re-enter the Fund?
You may return the payment that was made to you, provided that the prior contributory service for which you were paid was less than 5 years and was the most recent prior to re-entry. The application on form Pens.C/1 must be made within one 1 year from your reentry into participation. On the other hand, if your prior contributory service had been more than 5 years, the option to restore would not be open to you. (See UNJSPF Restoration Page regarding conditions and restrictions).
Am I allowed to (i) pay contributions for a break-in-service? (ii) continue to contribute after I separate from service?
No. Contributory service can accrue only in conformity with the UNJSPF Regulations & Rules. There are no provisions in the Regulations & Rules that would allow you to make pensionable any period when you were not a participating staff member of one of the Fund’s member organizations. (See UNJSPF Break in Service Page for more information).
How does my part-time status affect my participation/pension entitlement?
You remain a participant in the Fund if you are on at least 50 per cent employment status. The amount of the benefit resulting from part-time employment would be reduced by the ratio, which it bears to full employment, taking into account your final average remuneration, number of years of Contributory Service, age at time of separation, etc.
What happens if I take a period of Special Leave Without Pay (SLWOP)?
Your participation in the Fund continues during a period of leave without pay. However, the period will not be counted as contributory service unless you pay full pension contributions (your own plus the organization’s share, i.e. 23.7% of your pensionable remuneration) each month concurrently with your leave. You would have to make payment arrangements in advance with the Finance Office of your employing organization before you take leave. Entitlement to a benefit that becomes due while on leave without pay will be payable in accordance with Article 39 of the Regulations and Rules of the Fund regarding the limitation of entitlements during leave without pay. (See UNJSPF Special Leave Without Pay Page for more information)
May I remain on SLWOP indefinitely?
No. For Pension Fund purposes, a participant is deemed to have separated from the Pension Fund when he/she has completed a consecutive period of three years of leave without pay without having paid concurrent contributions in accor-dance with Article 25(a) of the Regulations and Rules of the Fund. To re-enter the Fund, you would have to satisfy the requirements for participation once again.
What happens if I am seconded or loaned to another UNJSPF member organization?
If you are seconded or loaned to another UNJSPF member organization, the organizations concerned would forward the related documentation to the Fund and your pension record would be updated accordingly. Your participation would be continuous without any break in your service.
What happens if I separate from a UNJSPF member organization and (i) join another organization? (ii) rejoin the same organization?
If you join/rejoin another UNJSPF member organization within 36 months of your separation without a benefit being paid, your participation is deemed to be continuing. No action on your part is required since the member organizations involved would report your separation and re-entry dates. However, if applicable, your records will show a break in service between contracts.
If my new/former employer is not a member organization of the Fund, am I allowed to transfer my pension rights into/from the Fund?
It depends on the organization from which you are transferring. Transfer of pension rights into or from the UNJSPF is permitted only if a bilateral transfer agreement between the organization concerned and the UNJSPF is in effect. A listing of UNJSPF Transfer Agreements is available here.
If I am employed by a UNJSPF member organization under a Special Service Agreement, or as a consultant or individual contractor am I entitled to participation?
No. Since service under Special Service Agreement (SSA), or employment as a consultant or individual contractor, does not confer staff member status, you are not entitled to participate. Furthermore, a staff member who subsequently becomes a participant in the Fund cannot validate previous service under SSA agreement or under contracts for consultants or individual contractors.
What does it mean for my Participation when I Separate from Service
Am I allowed to elect a benefit other than a retirement benefit when I separate from service?
Yes. If you have not yet reached the normal retirement age (i.e., 60 or 62) and you separate from service after contributing to the Fund for five years or more, you may elect a withdrawal settlement. You will then receive your contributions (currently 7.9% of pension-able remuneration) plus 3.25% accrued interest and another 10% of the total for each year over five years, up to a maximum of 100%. Thus, if your contributory service was 15 years or longer, you would receive double your contributions and interest.
If you separate from service after contributing to the Fund for less than five years, regardless of your age, you are only eligible to elect a withdrawal settlement, which consists of your contributions plus the 3.25% annual interest earned up to the date of separation. (See Separation Page for further information). If you rejoin the Fund while already receiving a retirement benefit, it may be possible when you again separate from service to choose between an add-on retirement benefit or a withdrawal settlement.
What happens to my contributions in the event of my death in service whilst I am an active participant in the Fund?
In the event of your death in service, a monthly benefit would automatically become payable to your eligible dependent(s) (eligible spouse, unmarried children under age 21 or possibly to an eligible secondary dependent if there are no spouses or children who are eligible). However, should you not have an eligible dependent, then the person(s) designated on form Pens.A/2 would receive payment of a residual settlement in accordance with Article 38 of the Fund’s Regulations. Click here for more information on Residual Settlements.
A residual settlement consists of the participant’s own contributions to the Fund during his/her participatory period in the Fund. This would be a one-time lump sum payment. As indicated above, a residual settlement would be payable to the person designated on form Pens.A/2 if you die in service and have no eligible dependents. You may update the information on form Pens.A/2 at any time by submitting a new form to the Fund. The latest designation will be used by the Fund. Please note that this is a separate and different document from the form you may have already filled for your employing organization (often also called Designation of Beneficiary).
Is my employing Organization’s share of my contributions paid to me when I separate from Service with a withdrawal settlement?
When I separate from service what actions must I take to get a pension benefit?
To process your benefit, the Pension Fund must receive separation documents from your former employing organization and payment instructions from you. You have the option under article 32 of deferring the choice/payment of your benefit for up to thirty-six months by submitting page 1 only of either form Pens.E/6 or Pens.E/7, whichever is applicable. When you are ready to receive payment the remaining page(s) of the form containing your benefit election and banking instructions must be sent to the Fund, by mail. Please refer to the Separation Page for detailed information on the actions required by yourself and your employing organization.
If I obtain a legal separation/divorce from my spouse would he/she still be entitled to a portion of my pension?
Please note that for Pension Fund purposes a legal separation is not considered to be a divorce, therefore, a participant who is legally separated from his/her spouse would continue to have the status of “married” in his/her pension record. You should note that under Article 45 of the UNJSPF Regulations, a retiree can authorize the UNJSPF, to pay a portion of his/her pension benefit to his/her then former spouse or an estranged current spouse to fulfill a legal obligation (e.g. an alimony payment) arising from a marital relationship and evidenced by a court order.
However, a spouse’s entitlement to a widow’s or widower’s benefit, under articles 34 and 35 of the Fund’s Regulations, is payable only upon the participant’s death, at which time the Regulations that are then in effect would be applied to determine the eligibility of any claimant (including former spouse) to a benefit.
How do I obtain more detailed information on the Pension Fund, its Regulations etc?
Each year the Fund issues a letter (Annual Letter) to participants and beneficiaries informing of any changes in the Regulations and Rules. The letter and other information, including the full texts of the UNJSPF Regulations and Rules, may be obtained on the Fund’s website. You may also visit the UNJSPF at its New York or Geneva Offices. Details of the office visiting hours are to be found on the Fund’s website under “Contact Us.“