EPFO issues Important circular on higher pension, clarifies which employees are eligible

Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has issued a circular on December 29, 2022, to comply with the Supreme Court’s direction on higher pension for eligible employees. The circular issued lays down the eligibility conditions for employees to get higher pension and how they can apply for it online.

Who is eligible to receive higher pension as per EPFO?

As per the circular, only those employees are eligible who contributed to higher wages as mandated under the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme and have exercised their option for higher pension prior to their retirement but their request was explicitly denied by the EPFO.

Hence, the following pensioners can apply for higher pension:
a) The pensioners who as employees had contributed on salary exceeding the then prevalent wage ceiling of Rs 5,000 or Rs 6,500; and

b) Exercised joint option under the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of the pre-amendment scheme while being members of EPS-95, and
c) Their exercise of such option was declined by the EPFO.

Who are not eligible for a higher pension from EPFO?

The circular has explicitly clarified that certain employees will not be eligible for higher pension after the Supreme Court order dated November 4, 2022:

  • The employees who had retired prior to September 1, 2014, without exercising any option under paragraph 11(3) of the pre-amendment scheme have already exited from the membership thereof. (Therefore) They would not be entitled to the benefit of this judgement.
  • The employees who have retired before September 1, 2014, upon exercising option under paragraph 11(3) of the 1995 scheme shall be covered by the provisions of paragraph 11(3) of the pension scheme as it stood prior to the amendment of 2014.

How eligible pensioners can apply for higher pension
The eligible pensioners are required to visit their concerned regional EPFO office along with a duly-filled-in application form and specified documents to apply for a higher pension.

The process of applying for a higher pension at the regional EPFO office is as follows:
A) The request will be made in such form and manner as may be specified by the commissioner
B) The application form for validation will contain the disclaimer as ordered in the aforesaid government notification
C) 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.

D) 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-upto the date of payment, will be deposited within the specified period.

Further circulars will be issued in regard with how required amount will be deposited for higher pension, says the circular dated December 29, 2022.

Documents required to apply for higher pension

A pensioner is required to submit the following documents for evidence and further processing:
a) Proof of joint option under Para 26(6) of the EPF scheme duly verified by the employer; and
b) Proof of joint option under the proviso to erstwhile Para 11(3) duly verified by the employer; and
c) Proof of remittance in provident fund account on higher wages exceeding the prevalent wage ceiling of Rs 5,000/Rs 6,500; and
d) Proof of remittance in pension fund on higher wages exceeding the prevalent wage ceiling of Rs 5,000/Rs 6,500, if any, and
e) Written refusal of APFC or any other higher authority of EPFO to such request/remittance.

What will happen once the application form is submitted
According to the circular, once the eligible pensioner submits the application form, the EPFO authority i.e., the Regional PF commissioner will deal with it as follows:

  • Each application will be registered and digitally logged. The receipt number will be provided to the applicant.
  • The application will land into employer’s login whose verification with e-sign will be essential for further processing.
  • RPFC will cause each application to be converted into e-file, as far as, possible.
  • The concerned dealing assistant will examine the papers including the note on receipt of due amount in the pension fund, and mark the case to the section supervisor/account officer.
  • The concerned SS/AO will mark out any discrepancies and send it with the rule position to AFPC/RPFC-II who after due examination will put the case to Officer-in charge of Regional Office.
  • The Officer in-charge shall examine each case of pension on higher salary and dispose it by passing a speaking order that shall be intimated to the applicant through e-mail/post. Efforts will be made to intimate them through telephone/SMS.

If an applicant has any grievance, then a complaint can be raised on EPFiGMS after submission of his request form and payment of due contribution, if any.

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