Experts have pointed out that it is essential, before one opts in, to understand how much of the provident fund corpus will be transferred to the EPS scheme to avail higher pension, and how interest earned between 2014 and now will be adjusted.
Since EPFO wants an undertaking from subscribers to calculate pension through a formula that has still not been notified, experts said the pension fund manager must also specifically clarify whether an applicant will be allowed to withdraw consent for higher pension once the pension fund manager raises a demand for funds and if they find that the actual cost-benefit analysis is not in their favour.
For a comprehensive understanding of the scheme’s benefit, it is also important that the EPFO clarify the replacement mechanism for the additional 1.16% EPS contribution by employees that was struck down by the Supreme Court in its November 4, 2022 judgment.
Last week, Atul Sobti, a member of the EPFO’s central board of trustees and director general of Scope, the representative body of public sector enterprises, had written to central PF commissioner Neelam Shami Rao with a 13-point annexure pointing out problems applicants are facing while applying online. Seeking an extension of the deadline by at least a month, Sobti also sought clarity from EPFO on the requirement of furnishing prior permission under Para 26(6) which the Kerala high court had struck down.
Subsequently, 10 Central Trade Unions, National Confederation of Retirees and CPI MP Binoy Viswam have written to Union labour minister Bhupender Yadav and Neelam Shami Rao seeking an extension of the deadline for application as well as a detailed clarification from EPFO on all aspects of the higher pension scheme so that subscribers can make an informed decision before signing up.
The CTUs said though the pension fund manager promised at the last meeting of CBT in March to set up help centres for retirees to apply for higher pension, none has been set up so far. The confederation of retirees also pointed to technical and operational glitches in the online application form that have not been fixed despite being flagged repeatedly.