The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has recently clarified regarding the eligibility criteria for higher pensions in compliance with the Supreme Court order.
The Provident Fund (PF) regulator issued a circular on December 29, stating the central government has been directed to implement the directions in the Supreme Court order, reported news agency PTI.
It also instructs EPFO members on how to apply for a higher pension after the apex court order. The EPFO also made it clear that fund authorities shall implement the Supreme Court ruling within a period of eight weeks, subject to directions contained earlier in paragraph 11(3) of the 1995 scheme.
The EPFO circular also provides for the higher pension option for those eligible subscribers who either contributed on actual wages higher than Rs 5,000 or Rs 6,500 per month prevalent threshold pensionable salary or exercised their option for higher pension or their request for higher pension was declined by EPFO authorities before the amendment to EPS-95 in 2014.
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What was the Supreme Court order?
In November, the Supreme Court in its order upheld Employees Pension (Amendment) Scheme 2014. The EPS amendment of August 22, 2014 increased the pensionable salary cap to Rs 15,000 a month from Rs 6,500 a month and allowed members along with their employers to contribute 8.33 per cent on their actual salaries (if it exceeded the cap) towards the EPS.
All EPS members, as on September 1, 2014, have six months’ time to opt for the amended scheme. The top court in its order gave four more months to eligible subscribers to opt for higher pension under EPS-95. The court also struck down the requirement in the 2014 amendments mandating employee contribution of 1.16 per cent of the salary exceeding Rs 15,000 per month.
How eligible pensioners can apply for a higher pension?
In order to apply for a higher pension, the eligible EPS members may apply digitally/online at the website epfindia.gov.in for validating their options, if any, by the concerned regional Office, according to the circular.
The steps required to apply for the pension are as below as noted in the circular.
- The request will be made in such form and manner as may be specified by the commissioner;
- The application form for validation will contain the disclaimer as ordered in the aforesaid government notification;
- In case of share requiring adjustment from provident fund to pension fund and if any, re-deposit to the fund, the explicit consent of the pensioner will be given in the application form;
- In case of transfer of funds from exempted provident fund trust to pension fund of EPFO, an undertaking of the trustee shall be submitted. The undertaking shall be to the effect that due contribution along with interest-up to the date of payment, will be deposited within the specified period; and
- The method of deposit of such funds will follow through subsequent circulars.