The Minister of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi, clarified the eligibility criteria for mid-term access to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). In response to a report from the Committee on Gender regarding a petition on mid-term access, Amongi emphasized that members must have made contributions for 120 consecutive months to qualify.
Key points from the minister’s clarification:
- Contributions vs. Savings: Amongi addressed the misconception between contributions and savings, highlighting that the law requires 120 consecutive months of contributions. Individuals who lose their jobs and create gaps in their contributions, even if they have saved for a specified period, may not qualify for mid-term access.
- Sensitization Efforts: The Ministry has initiated sensitization efforts to educate workers on the eligibility criteria for mid-term access. The aim is to create awareness and prevent misunderstandings regarding the requirements.
- Committee Recommendations: The Committee on Gender recommended public sensitization by the Ministry of Gender to raise awareness of mid-term access benefits. Additionally, they suggested the formulation of a complaint mechanism for members seeking advice, review, justice, and assistance in accessing benefits. The committee proposed that quarterly reports on mid-term access benefits be provided to Parliament.
- Alternative Measures: Some members of Parliament suggested exploring alternative measures, such as recapitalizing commercial banks to facilitate access to low-interest loans. Concerns were raised about the impact of mid-term access on the spirit of social security, especially considering increasing life expectancies.
- NSSF Amendment Act 2021: The National Social Security Amendment Act 2021 allows NSSF members above the age of 45, with a minimum of 10 years of work, to access 20 percent of their benefits. The legislation aims to provide financial flexibility to qualifying members.