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Emergency Fund

The Emergency Fund is set up to provide financial assistance for beneficiaries, who are in receipt of a small pension, and are facing temporary hardship. If you are temporarily unable to meet your basic expenses due to an emergency situation, such as exceptional medical expenses, you may seek assistance from the UNJSPF Emergency Fund. The Emergency Fund cannot be used to replace or augment medical insurance plans, completely reimburse medical expenses, or supplement income considered too small by its recipients to face day-to-day expenses.

What is the Emergency Fund?

The purpose of the Emergency Fund is to provide financial assistance, promptly and without recourse to complex administrative procedures, wherever the Pension Fund determines that exceptional circumstances are causing special hardship in individual situations. The Emergency Fund is NOT intended as a source for supplementing pensions considered inadequate by recipients, and it does NOT provide loans or serve as a substitute for medical insurance.

When was the Emergency Fund established?

At its eighteenth session held in Vienna in July 1973, the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board decided to create an Emergency Fund to be utilized to provide financial assistance to beneficiaries currently receiving a periodic benefit from the Fund and who, having worked primarily for the United Nations and are in receipt of a small pension, are faced with unforeseen hardship owing to illness, infirmity, etc.

How is the Emergency Fund funded?

The Emergency Fund, which is not an integral part of the UNJSPF pension benefit system, is financed from the assets of the UNJSPF and voluntary contributions by an appropriation of US$200,000 each biennium (US$100,000 per annum) as approved by the United Nations General Assembly.

Applying

If you are a former staff member (or a spouse of a former staff member) of the United Nations and its family of entities (e.g., UNDP, UNICEF and UNHCR), you may submit your request directly to the Fund in New York/Geneva since the Fund serves as the Staff Pension Committee for the United Nations. Otherwise, you should submit your request through the secretary of the relevant local staff pension committee of your (or your spouse’s) former employing organization.

Your request should include information on the circumstances surrounding the financial hardship experienced as well as substantiating documentation on both the need for assistance and the costs involved.

Can I ask for financial assistance if I am temporarily unable to meet my basic expenses due to an emergency situation such as medical expenses of an exceptional nature?

Yes, you may seek assistance from the UNJSPF Emergency Fund, which was set up to provide financial assistance in case of hardship to beneficiaries who are receiving a small periodic benefit from the Fund. Please see the description of the Emergency Fund in the Annex. e.g. Funeral expenses.

As an employee of a UNJSPF member organization and participant of the Fund, can I apply for Emergency Fund assistance?

No, only beneficiaries currently receiving a benefit from the Pension Fund may apply for assistance.

What supporting documents must be submitted upon application?

A request relating to medical expenses must be accompanied by the following original documents:

  1. A dated physician’s certificate with the diagnosis and necessity for a particular course of treatment;
  2. Original (or certified true copies of) invoices/detailed bills for all services rendered and/or medication dispensed;
  3. Corresponding proof of payment in the form of dated receipts showing full payment for every bill produced;
  4. Statements from insurance and/or national health plans showing out-of-pocket cost to you; and
  5. Information regarding your total household income including any monies/grants from other pension plans or national social security scheme, investments, savings and other income, etc. (this information must be provided as it will allow to establish the ratio between medical expenses and your total income, which would then help assess your financial hardship).


For other emergencies creating hardship, the documents mentioned under points 2), 3) and 5) must be submitted.

How is an application processed?

In the first instance applications are dealt with by the Client Services Unit of the UNJSPF. Following the initial review, cases are documented and forwarded to the responsible official with a recommendation. Thereafter, the final decision is communicated to the applicant.

How much time must I allow for my application to be processed?

An application to receive Emergency Fund assistance is processed on a priority basis, provided that all the supporting documentation has been received. The beneficiary is notified promptly once a decision is reached.

Criteria for acceptance

What criteria are used to determine if an Emergency Fund payment is warranted?

It should be noted that the Emergency Fund is not intended to relieve other organizations, institutions or governments of their legal and moral obligations in respect of their staff members or nationals. “Unforeseen hardship” is something non-recurrent and of an emergency nature in individual circumstances; hardship caused by general or local economic situations cannot be addressed by financial assistance from the Emergency Fund. As specified above, the basic purpose of the Emergency Fund must be respected. Therefore, “having worked primarily for the United Nations” is meant to exclude claims from persons who have not spent most of their career with the United Nations and who therefore have a limited contributory service.

Such personnel may have other income sources, including non-UN pension(s). “Small pension” is relative to the country of residence, the length of contributory service, grade of the ex-staff member as well as other factors including whether a part of the periodic benefit had been commuted by the UNJSPF participant into a lump sum thus reducing the annual pension benefit due. The factors which are used to assess a case are: the applicant’s age, number of years of contributory service, amount of the periodic UNJSPF benefit, the country in which the pensioner resides, other possible sources of income and/ or assistance and the circumstances surrounding the special expenditures. The endorsement or support of the local AFICS or UN representative will help the UNJSPF to assess the emergency nature of the request and speed up the processing of any claim.

On what basis are requests rejected?

On receipt of a request, the Fund reviews whether the basic criteria for Emergency Fund assistance are met. The vast majority of cases rejected are found not receivable under the published guidelines, e.g., assistance was either being sought to further education, to supplement monthly entitlements, to help with marriage expenses or the supporting documentation was never provided.

What are the most frequent types of requests received by the Emergency Fund?

Requests relating to medical expenses constitute the majority of cases. However, requests for other emergencies creating hardship, such as those detailed in Section 3 of the Annex, are also submitted. e.g. Medical expenses

If my request is denied is there anywhere else I can go to seek assistance?

If there is a retiree association in your country of residence (Association of former international civil servants) you may be able to approach them to ask if they have any assistance programmes for beneficiaries who are experiencing hardship. There are occasions when they may be able to help particularly when the issue is not one that the UNJSPF can necessarily assist with. The Annual Letter sent out by the Chief Executive Officer of the UNJSPF each year normally provides a listing of all the retiree associations and contact details.

Other Emergency Fund questions

If a widow or widower dies, should UNJSPF be informed of this event? Will UNJSPF be able to help in providing the family of the deceased with the cost of burial and other needs?

In the event of death of a pensioner, the UNJSPF must be informed promptly to avoid any overpayments. Yes, assistance from the Emergency Fund may be provided in hardship cases towards funeral expenses for a beneficiary for immediate dependent relatives if hardship can be proven, i.e., if funeral expenses cannot be covered by a spouse or immediate dependent relatives in a case where there is no surviving spouse. The amount of reimbursement cannot exceed the prescribed ceiling (currently set at US$932).

Does the Emergency Fund extend personal loans?

No, the Emergency Fund is neither a source for supplementing a pension nor for providing loans.

Will information on my Emergency Fund payment be released to a third party?

No, this payment, although not governed by the Regulations of the Fund, will nevertheless be treated in accordance with strict rules of confidentiality. It should be noted however that the UNJSPF Board does occasionally ask for details of payments made although the names of beneficiaries or their dependents are never provided.

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