Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund Richard Byarugaba.

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has said members battling Covid-19 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) will be given an option to access part of their benefits under the invalidity benefits provision.

Richard Byarugaba, the NSSF Managing Director, told Daily Monitor that the Fund had already helped some members in this regard. However, he did not provide specifics on how many members had approached NSSF in this regard or how much had been paid out.

“It is an invalidity benefit. Basically, it is a benefit which is available to members who are either incapacitated or are not able to work. And since we have seen that Covid-19 can sometimes result in serious medication, the [NSSF doctor] assesses and then authorizes it [pay out],” he is quoted adding that the assessment for the payout is done in less than a week.

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Asked if the Fund would not be overwhelmed considering the surge in Covid-19 cases since May, Mr Byarugaba said access would be on a cases-by-case basis with attention given to members in critical condition.

“Especially, now that we know that you have to pay a lot of money when you are in intensive care, we have considered this. But it entirely remains a doctors decision,” he said.

NSSF had earlier sent out a tweet responding to a twitter user Albert Mwebaze who on Wednesday tweeted: “With this sky rocketing costs of treating Covid. Isn’t about time people who are admitted are allowed to access their NSSF savings.”

A reply from NSSF read; “Kindly note that if our member is in ICU and medical documents are submitted, the Fund doctor handles the assessment and advises accordingly in-line with the invalidity benefit. We therefore request that they reach out to enable us serve them better.”

Mr Byarugaba noted that the payout will purely be based on the discretion of the NSSF doctor, who after assessing submitted documents, will authorise the payout.

NSSF has since last year been swarmed by request from both members and the public to create a provision in which members, whose income sources have been affected by Covid-19 access part of their benefits to shore them out of the hard times.