Special Pensions give effect to Section 189 of the interim Constitution, providing pensions to individuals who made sacrifices or served the public interest in establishing a democratic constitutional order in South Africa. The fight for a democratic South Africa led to many people sacrificing their lives, livelihoods and families for the cause. The Special Pensions Act (SPA) was enacted in 1996 in order to address the plight of those who lost the opportunity to provide for themselves in their retirement as they pursued freedom and a just society for all South Africans.

Special Pensions are non-contributory benefits, paid for by National Treasury and administered by the GPAA, that are paid to deserving applicants. The provision of these pensions is carefully determined, and a Special Pensions Adjudication and Special Pensions Appeals Board is in place to manage the process and ensure that the benefits are only paid to those who are deserving of them.