In a bid to increase social security and enhance worker awareness EPFO has taken significant measures to provide more benefits to members and ease the withdrawal process.
It was always our hard-earned money. Even then withdrawing money from the PF account or closing an account was always a cumbersome exercise.
In the last few years, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has taken several steps to make the scheme more convenient and beneficial for the depositors. It is now working to simplify the process even further.
The Ministry of Labour & Employment has recently announced that EPF members/depositors will only need to submit a self-declaration for advance withdrawal in case of illness of members/dependents. Even for differently-abled members, withdrawal can be done on the basis of self-declaration. This self-declaration form is included in the composite claim form.
As was the practice earlier, the depositor will no longer be required to submit a medical certificate or any other certificate, document or proforma whatsoever, to avail advances under paragraph 68-J or under paragraph 68-N of the EPF Scheme 1952.
“This is in continuation with the initiatives taken by EPFO as part of the next phase of its e-governance reforms, with a view to making the services of EPFO available to its stakeholders in an efficient and transparent manner,” an official press release stated.
Even for other purposes such as purchase of house, education and marriage of children, advance withdrawal can be done by using a composite form along with a self-declaration. The retirement body now considers the composite claim form signed by the EPF member as a self-certification for partial withdrawals.
Besides, one can withdraw up to 90 per cent of their savings for purchase of homes and the account can also be used to pay EMIs for a home loan.
EPFO is also working towards an online claims settlement process. The application will be integrated with the Unified Mobile App for New-age Governance (UMANG) to receive the claims online.
However, the focus of EPFO is not just on the convenience of withdrawal. It encourages people to save more, and it offer larger benefits to those who save longer. The retirement body has proposed a loyalty scheme under which one can earn a benefit of up to Rs 50,000 at the time of retirement for contributing to the scheme for 20 years or more. The benefit will also be provided in case of permanent disability even if the members have contributed for less than 20 years.
In December 2016, the ministry had approved an interest rate of 8.65 per cent on EPF or employee provident fund deposits for 2016–17. The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has asked field offices to credit interest at the rate of 8.65 per cent into the accounts of subscribers.
Although some of these benefits will be available for EPFO members only after approval from the government, the line-up surely looks promising in terms of making lives easier for the nearly four crore members of the retirement fund body.