UNJSPF EMERGENCY FUND*
1. General Introduction
The Emergency Fund is financed from the assets of the UNJSPF and voluntary contributions, and is utilized to provide financial assistance to beneficiaries who are currently receiving a periodic benefit from the Fund. It is intended to provide relief in individual cases of proven hardship owing to illness, infirmity or similar cases, including funeral arrangements. It is not intended to supplement pensions that may be considered insufficient, whether due to general or local economic situations or limited contributory service. Also, the Emergency Fund cannot be utilized as a source for loans, scholarships or further education for the retiree or his/her beneficiaries, home building/purchase or improvements (unless justified for medical reasons), or for dowry or wedding expenses. Applications are examined without a rigid set of rules, and attention is paid to a number of factors such as age, number of years of contributory service, amount of the UNJSPF benefit, the country in which the pensioner resides, availability of insurance, other possible sources of income and/or assistance and the circumstances surrounding the expenditures. There is no formal means test and much flexibility is exercised as to which applicants receive assistance from the Emergency Fund.
2. Procedures for Dealing with Cases
(a) In the case of the United Nations and its family of entities (e.g. UNDP, UNICEF, and UNHCR), requests are submitted directly to the Fund in New York/Geneva since the Fund serves as the Staff Pension Committee for the United Nations. In the case of the other member organizations, whenever possible, requests are submitted through the secretaries of local staff pension committees on behalf of their former staff or the latter’s survivors. The secretaries examine the request, provide information on the nature of the emergency, the after-service medical insurance coverage, the proportion of the expenditures covered by that insurance or that would have been covered if coverage had been provided, the circumstances surrounding the hardship experienced by the beneficiary and any other relevant facts which might be ascertained. In many cases a beneficiary chooses not to participate in ASHI (After Service Health Insurance) because of coverage by other insurance schemes; in such case, information is sought on the reimbursement provided elsewhere.
(b) If a beneficiary who was formerly with one of the member organizations of the Fund (other than the UN) writes directly to the Fund, the matter is referred, in the first instance, to the secretary of the relevant staff pension committee for clarification and further information along the lines indicated in (a) above.
* This note provides information on the general principles for the operation and application of the Emergency Fund. It is not in any way a detailed, precise formulation of the Regulations and Rules.
(c) All requests should be accompanied by substantiating documentation; in cases involving medical expenses, that documentation must include a medical statement
regarding the nature of the illness, the type and cause of treatment provided by the physician and/or hospital, and proof of the expenditures and payment for each. If the request has been channeled through the secretary of a staff pension committee, certain documentation can sometimes be waived as it will already have been verified and approved by the organization’s health insurance scheme. UN family cases are similarly referred to the UN Insurance Section.
(d) Documentation not already evaluated through a medical insurance procedure is forwarded to the Medical Director of the United Nations for advice and evaluation in his/her capacity as Medical Consultant to the Pension Board, or, as the case may be, to the Joint Medical Service in Geneva.
(e) Other entities, such as retiree associations or social service agencies sometimes present requests on behalf of beneficiaries. For example, a number of cases have been submitted by AFICS affiliated associations on behalf of some of their members. Wherever possible, such organizations assist in obtaining the required substantiating documentation. (Requests for assistance emanating from Europe, Africa and the Middle East shall generally be handled by the Fund’s Geneva office, acting in coordination with the central secretariat in New York as required).
(f) Cases involving expenses other than medical are similarly evaluated in the light of all the evidence provided.
3. Types of Expenditure Covered by Emergency Fund Assistance
The types of expenditures considered for possible assistance from the Emergency Fund can be grouped roughly into the following categories:
A. Medical Expenditures
To the extent that they are not covered by any insurance:
(i) Direct Medical costs: physicians’ fees, medication, hospital costs, surgery, and diagnostic and laboratory fees;
(ii) Other Medical costs, such as: wheelchairs, prosthetic devices or equipment;
(iii) Service costs, such as: nursing and/or domestic assistance for a period required for convalescence or, in certain circumstances, on a continuing basis;
(iv) Certain Transportation costs: emergency ambulance costs to and from the hospital where treatment took place. If a specific medical service is not available in the city where the applicant resides, assistance may be provided towards the cost of transportation between the city of residence and the nearest location where appropriate treatment can be provided;
(v) Dental treatment: that is essential for health reasons and not merely for cosmetic purposes;
(vi) Medical costs for eye treatment: including the cost of eyeglasses, but not of expensive frames obtained for cosmetic purposes.
B. Funeral Expenses
Assistance may be provided in hardship cases towards funeral expenses for immediate dependent relatives. The present ceiling for reimbursement, which reflects the movement of the United States Cost-of-Living Index from 1974 (when this assistance was added to costs that could be reimbursed) to 2012, is $1,209 – subject to subsequent adjustments. (Click here)1
C. Other Expenditures
Other emergencies that do not fall into the above categories but which may create hardship can also be considered. Regional disasters creating hardship should first be directed to international disaster relief organizations and/or local authorities. The following are examples of such cases:
(i) Removal costs due to an emergency that may have been caused by the destruction of living quarters by fire or flood, for example, or a change of residence on medical grounds, provided that detailed documentation with regard to the expenses involved is submitted;
(ii) Temporary shelter needed because of the destruction of and/or major damage to living quarters, and replacement of a minimum of household effects in the case of fire, or natural disasters;
(iii) Repair or changing of heating furnace in order to avoid a hazardous health situation;
(iv) While there is no provision for rental subsidies as such, assistance may be provided in certain cases when pensioners must spend time residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Coverage of this service must be fully documented and the facility must provide a breakdown of expenses. In this connection, expenditures that are not “medically-related” and are not covered by health insurance, such as telephone calls, TV rental, etc. are not considered for reimbursement.
4. Further General Information
Requests falling under any of the general headings in section 3 above may be considered; however, assistance is not automatically granted either in full or in part and all relevant factors are to be taken into account in reaching a decision in a particular case. All possibilities of obtaining assistance from other sources are also explored; while flexibility is essential in operating the Emergency Fund, the latter should not be used to relieve other organizations, institutions or governments of their legal and moral obligations. Beneficiaries may also be given the address of the local AFICS, since the retiree organizations are sometimes able to assist when the UNJSPF cannot.
Generally, the Emergency Fund is not be used to pay premiums to health insurance schemes, as member organizations should fulfill all their obligations towards their former staff members in providing necessary coverage. However, requests for assistance in medical emergencies from those who have no medical insurance, or from those who have such insurance but who, for various reasons, are suffering hardship in trying to cover the proportion not reimbursed by insurance, can be reviewed.