New Pension Scheme (NPS) holders can withdraw the entire fund on retirement if the total amount is Rs 2 lakh or less. The Finance Ministry has notified the change.

“When, on superannuation, a request is received from a subscriber, other than the subscriber under NPS-Lite Swavalamban Scheme, having pension wealth of two lakh rupees or less, he/she may opt for withdrawal of total pension wealth,” according to a Finance Ministry gazette notification . At present, over 4,400 accounts have accumulated amounts of Rs 2 lakh or lower. Out of these, nearly 680 have made a request for withdrawal.

Normally, an individual can exit either at or after the age of 60. However, from March 2013, subscribers were allowed to stay invested till the age of 70, but with some conditions such as no-contribution or part-withdrawal between the ages of 60 and 70.

Annuity problem

At the time of exit, 60 per cent of the total amount is given as lump sum, while 40 per cent is used to purchase an annuity, which provides lifetime pension to an employee and his dependent parents/spouse at the time of retirement. The problem was that the accumulated amount was inadequate for pension payouts. The thinking is that accumulated funds of less than Rs 2 lakh are not enough to purchase an annuity or annuity providing for a decent monthly income.

Now, subscribers, with pension wealth of Rs 2 lakh or less, will have to make a request for an ‘opt-out’ option. Those who have not made a request for withdrawal as lump sum may like to continue, which is why a specific ‘opt out’ option is being proposed, rather than a default option.

NPS is a contributory scheme that was made mandatory for Union Government employees (except those joining the Armed Forces) joining on or after January 1, 2004. Under the scheme, an employee contributes 10 per cent of his/her salary and dearness allowance and an equal contribution is made by the Union Government.

shishir.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 18, 2013)
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