Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) is a retirement savings scheme established in India to provide financial security to employees. It was introduced by the Indian government in 1952 and has since been amended several times. This article will explain the key features of EPF, its benefits, eligibility criteria, and how it can be used as part of an effective retirement planning strategy.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) is a retirement savings scheme established by the Indian government in 1952. It provides financial security to employees when they retire from their job. The EPF works by allowing employers and employees to contribute money towards an individual employee’s provident fund account each month. This money remains invested until the employee retires or becomes eligible for withdrawal, at which point it can be used as part of their post-retirement income plan.
The main advantage of opting into the EPF scheme is that it allows individuals to save for their retirement without having to worry about market risks or other investment-related issues. Additionally, since contributions are made on a monthly basis, this ensures that regular savings habits are fostered and maintained over time. Furthermore, any interest earned on these investments will also be tax-free up to certain limits set by the government, making it one of the most attractive retirement planning options available today.
To avail benefits under this scheme, individuals should meet specific eligibility criteria:
1. They must have been employed with an organization registered under the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
2. Both the employer and the employee must have contributed 12% or more per month into an individual’s PF account for a minimum period of five years.
3. Employees should not exceed 60 years old upon completion of the five-year contribution period.
4. There should be no double membership in any other pension schemes like Public Sector Undertaking Pension Schemes, etc.
5. If an employee has left their current employment, then they need to transfer their funds from the previous employer’s PF account within two months after leaving.
6. An individual cannot withdraw funds before completing at least seven years in service.
7. No withdrawals shall be allowed till age 55.
8. Withdrawal shall only be permitted if there is no employment with another establishment.
9. In case of death before attaining age 55, all accumulated amounts will go directly to the nominee.
10. Individuals who have become members prior to March 31, 2016, are entitled to full pension benefits, while new members joining after this date will get reduced benefits due to changes brought by the Government in the 2016 Budget Proposals.
11. Lastly, those working abroad may not opt-out unless they receive special permission from the Central Board of Trustees of EPFO India.
When you reach your desired retirement age or become eligible for withdrawal according to stipulated rules and regulations, you can use your accumulated balance either as a lump sum amount or through periodic payments. The lump sum option allows you to access the entire balance at once, whereas the periodic payment option gives you the flexibility of receiving fixed installments periodically. On maturity, you can choose either option depending upon your requirements. Generally, people prefer the lump sum option, but if you feel the need for additional income during later stages, then taking periodic payments can be beneficial.
Furthermore, you may also use your funds for other purposes such as home purchase, renovation, or any other needs by taking a loan against your EPF account. However, it should not exceed 50% of the total balance or 36 months’ wages, whichever is less. You are required to repay the amount with interest within the stipulated time period to avoid penalties.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme (EPF) is a great way for employees to save for their retirement and secure financial security in their later years. It provides several benefits such as tax-free returns, regular savings habits, and the ability to access funds when needed. Additionally, with its low eligibility criteria, this scheme has become increasingly popular among Indian citizens. Therefore, if you’re looking for an effective retirement planning strategy that offers long-term security, then consider investing in the EPF scheme today!