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UIF advice for young dependant who lost her mother

As a dependant you have 18 months to apply for the death benefit

To qualify for dependants’ benefits, your parent had to contribute to the UIF and her employer had to deduct those contributions from her salary every month.

Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

A young Sowetan Money reader has been denied access to her deceased mother’s UIF. She writes: “I'm 24 years old and my mother passed away in 2012. Her employer told me to claim from the UIF and sent all the documents we needed for the Department of Labour. My guardian and I went to submit all the documents, and after a few weeks of waiting for the money, a lady called my guardian to say my mother didn’t have a child, so we lost the money. Can you please tell us what to do in a case like this? - V Tabata via email.

Shaun Bergover, Attorney at Rhodes University Law Clinic responds:

Thank you for your question. Please note that my response is for general information and education purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. 

You were not very clear about your issue and without being able to ask you any follow up questions it will be difficult to get a full picture of what your problem is. However, from what I understand, your issue is that when your mother passed away your guardian helped you to claim her UIF benefits, but the Department of Labour informed you that your mother did not have any children. As a result you were not able to receive those funds. This is a very tricky situation and since I don’t have additional information, I will phrase my response in general terms.

UIF benefits are governed by the Unemployment Insurance Fund which is established by the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act of 2001.

Relevant to your question is a specific type of benefit known as the Dependants or Death benefit. If an employee passes away – in this case your mother – while employed, her dependants can claim benefits from the UIF. A dependant can be the deceased employee’s spouse or child under the age of 18 years.

To qualify for dependants’ benefits, your mother had to contribute to the UIF and her employer had to deduct those contributions from her salary every month. 

A dependant has 18 months to apply for these benefits from the Department of Labour. In your case, it seems like you did indeed apply and because you were still a minor you were duly accompanied by a guardian. 

In cases where UIF applications are rejected, you can appeal to the Regional Appeals Committee (RAC) and if that fails you can lodge a further appeal to the National Appeals Committee (NAC). The NAC’s decision is final, and the only remedy thereafter is to take the matter to court for review. 

When it is possible, I suggest you visit your local Labour Centre to get more information on the appeal process. You may need some evidence to support your claim that you are a dependant of your mother. It may be very late for an appeal, but it is worth a try. 

* Send your questions to money@arena.africa.