“Last opportunity of 15 days is being given to remove any difficulty faced by the eligible pensioners/ members. Accordingly, the last date for submission of Applications for Validation of Option / Joint Options by employees is extended to 11.07.2023,” said the press release.
This is the third time that the EPFO has extended the deadline to apply for higher pension for Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) subscribers. Originally, the deadline to apply for higher EPS pension was March 3, 2023. This deadline of fourth months was set by the Supreme Court in its judgement dated November 4, 2022. As the EPFO delayed issuing appropriate circulars on how eligible employees can apply for higher pension, the deadline for the first time was extended to May 3, 2023. However, on this date as well, certain clarifications were pending. Hence, the deadline was extended for the second time till June 26, 2023.
The press release has further stated that any eligible pensioner/member who on account of any issue in updation of KYC, faces difficulty in submitting online application for validation of option/joint option may immediately lodge such grievance on EPFiGMS for resolution. The grievance may please by submitted by selecting the grievance category of ‘Higher Pensionary benefits on higher wages’. This will ensure proper record of such grievance for further action.
According to experts, the latest extension will allow individuals to properly evaluate and decide whether they should apply for higher pension or not. This is because the EPFO has issued the information related to applying for higher EPS pension in a fragmented manner. For instance, the circular on the method for applying for higher EPS pension was issued on February 20, 2023. Then the notification clarifying additional contribution of 1.16% came on May 3, 2023. And most recently, the method of pension computation came on June 1, 2023.
The dissemination of information in a fragmented manner made it difficult for eligible employees to evaluate whether they will benefit by opting for higher EPS pension.The EPFO is also trying to ease the process of applying for higher pension from EPS. In a circular dated June 14, 2023, the EPFO has directed an alternate mechanism to the field offices, as well as documents that can be submitted if an eligible employee does not have proof of joint declaration as required under Para 26(6). This joint declaration is needed if an employee’s basic salary exceeds the specified wage ceiling limit (currently Rs 15,000) and wants to join or continue as a member of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.Meanwhile, many representations have been received from Employers & Employers Association wherein requests have been made to extend the time period for uploading wage details of applicant pensioners/members. This request has been considered sympathetically and the employers are being given further period of further three months to submit wage details etc. online latest by September 30,2023, said the press release.
Who is an eligible employee to apply for higher EPS pension?
The Supreme court in its judgement has specified which category of employees can apply for the higher EPS pension. As per the judgement, an employee is eligible for higher EPS pension if:
- member of EPS and/or EPF on September 1, 2014 and continued to remain the same after.
- retired prior to September 1, 2014 and was making higher contribution to their EPF account. However, their higher EPS pension request was rejected by the EPFO.
How to apply for higher EPS pension?
The EPFO has provided an online link on the Member Sewa portal for eligible employees to apply for higher EPS pension. A member who meets the eligibility criteria can visit the portal to apply, irrespective of whether the EPF account is held with the private trust or EPFO.