Representational Image | File Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Uncertainty over availing higher pension continues for members of the Employees Provident Fund even after four months of the Supreme Court verdict allowing a section of members to opt for it.
There are members who retired after September 1, 2014, and are getting higher pension based on various court orders. It is unclear if they must also opt for the option through the website before the deadline, May 4.
As well, there were members who retired before September 1, 2014 without opting for higher pensions but are receiving through court orders. The EPFO has put an end to that in January 2023. It was also ordered that the money be recovered from the beneficiaries. It is feared that this would be the fate of the members who have retired after September 1, 2014, but are getting the higher pension, if they don’t choose the joint option online based on the latest SC verdict.
Now, for those who will retire after September 1, 2014, the EPFO has mandated that a copy of the permission granted as per paragraph 26(6) of the EPF Act must be uploaded to opt for the higher pension. This joint declaration by the employee and employer has been overlooked all these years. EPFO, in reply to an RTI query, has stated that there have been no joint options/ undertakings received in writing under Para 26(6) of EPF Scheme, 1952 during the period from March 16, 1996 to December 31, 2022. So, the EPFO is actually asking for proof of a document that no member maintains. This makes it impossible for EPFO members who were in service on Sept 1, 2014 to opt for higher pensions, as permitted by the SC.
This declaration has been mandatory since 1996 to make a contribution of 12 per cent of the actual basic salary, with a matching contribution from the employer, irrespective of the deposit ceiling set by EPFO.
The members are demanding that the EPFO may instead accept a certificate from the employer that the PF share has been paid based on the actual salary. After all, EPFO has been paying interest for the amount credited to the PF account and has been charging 0.5 per cent administrative charge from the employer for the same.