The saddest part about this life is that we will all die at some point. One day Mwalimu Andrew died in a car crash. That was in March 2020. His family was not prepared for what lay ahead.
The father and the sole bread winner in that family was gone for good. The frustrating part was how the family could get the benefits of the teacher.
The back and forth visits to government offices for various documents required to enable them access Mwalimu Andrew’s benefits was to say the least, irritating.
Finally, the benefits were paid in August 2021, a whole year and five months later.
Does processing and payment of death benefits have to take this long? Ideally, processing of death gratuity takes a maximum of three months.
This is made possible by submission of all required documents by the legal representative of the deceased.
Death gratuity is paid as a one-off lump sum amount to the legal representative of a deceased teacher who was serving on permanent and pensionable terms.
The amount payable is equivalent to two years salary, calculated on the pay at the time of death.
Although the mandate for payment of these benefits is vested in the Pensions Department of the National Treasury, TSC processes all death gratuity claims and submits them to the Treasury for payment.
There are five main reasons why processing of death gratuity may take a long time.
These include missing, incomplete or wrongly filled documents, filling the wrong declaration, succession disputes and inability to trace the next of kin.
The main challenges in documentation include;
(a) Missing documents
This is where documents have been called for but the next of kin has not presented them.
This could be as a result of many factors. For example, the primary contact (Headteacher/Principal) being unable to trace the next of kin or the address given by next of kin being invalid or not in use.
This makes it hard for critical information or documents to reach the next of kin.
(b) Incomplete Documents
The next of kin has not filled the complete declaration form, has left blanks in spaces that must be filled or has not attached all the required supporting documents.
(c) Wrongly filled Documents
The next of kin has entered wrong information. For example, in the bank form instead of indicating the account number as it appears on the ATM on the space provided for that information, the erroneously fill in the serial number.
Or in the case of a widow/widower, the date they have filled as the date of marriage conflicts with the date indicates y the declarants who are supposed to confirm the marital status and details of the next of kin.
2. FILLING WRONG DECLARATION
An example is where a spouse to a deceased teacher fills a guardian declaration form instead of a widow/widower declaration or dependants fill a widow/widower form instead of a dependant form.
3. FAMILY/SUCCESSION DISPUTES
This usually occurs where multiple wives and or dependants fail to reach an agreement on who should be the legal personal representative.
In many such cases, the required documents are not submitted to facilitate processing of the death gratuity claim.
In other instances, the Commission is served with court orders to stop processing the claims.
4. INABILITY TO TRACE THE NEXT OF KIN
The first communication after the demise of a teacher is made to the Headteacher/Principal of the last station where the teacher taught.
At times the heads of the said institutions have no contact of the next of kin, especially in cases where the teacher was not teaching in their home county.
There are also instances where the contact addresses and telephone numbers indicated in the next of kin forms in the records are no longer active.
SOLUTION TO PROBLEMS DELAYING DEATH BENEFITS PAYMENT
The delays can be avoided by doing the following;
(1) Teachers are encouraged to fill the next of kin form every time there is a change in the particulars of the next of kin, dependants and contact details.
(2) Where there are two or more wives, all of them should fill declaration forms unless they agree to nominate one of them as their legal representative.
Such an agreement must be in writing and signed by each of them.
(3) Where the teacher and the spouse are both deceased, the children should nominate one of them to be paid on their behalf.
There written agreement must be signed by all of them and witnessed by the area Chief.
(4) The next of kin of deceased teachers should be encouraged to seek assistance from the Human Resource Officers (HRO) stationed in all TSC county and sub county offices when filling and submitting the documents required for processing of death gratuity claims.
FILLING OF DEATH GRATUITY DOCUMENTS
The main documents required for processing a death gratuity are Declaration Forms and Widows and Children’s Pension Scheme (GP 215) Form. The forms are filled as follows;
(1) The widow/widower declaration form is filled by a husband/wife whose spouse has passed on.
(2) The dependants declaration form is filled by children whose both parents are deceased or the deceased parent was not married or by a parent/sibling/other guardian in case of a deceased teacher who was not married and had no children.
(3) The GP 215 Form is filled (together with the dependants declaration form) by a parent/sibling/other guardian in the case of a male deceased teacher who was not married and had no children.
The following documents should be attached to the declaration forms;
(a) Chiefs letter on original letter head introducing the next of kin and all dependants
(b) Original death certificate (which is returned to next of kin after certification)
(c) Certified copies of birth certificates of all children who are 24 years and below
(d) Certified copies of IDs for children above 24 years
(e) Certified ID of next of kin
(f) Copy of KRA Pin certificate for the next of kin
(g) Certified ATM card copy/bank plate for next of kin
(h) Letters from schools/institutions for children/dependants who are aged 17 years and above but undergoing full time education