In a bid to help citizens amid the second wave of novel coronavirus pandemic, the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has allowed its members to withdraw money from the retirement fund as a non-refundable advance. In March, 2020, the central government introduced a special provision under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) which would allow the EPF members to withdraw basic pay and dearness allowance (DA) of three months or 75 per cent of their Provident Fund money, whichever is lower as advance. Last year, EPFO permitted its members to withdraw a one-time advance in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Those who have already availed this service, can also apply for a second advance, the ministry said.
“To support its subscribers during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, EPFO has now allowed its members to avail second non-refundable COVID-19 advance. The provision for special withdrawal to meet the financial need of members during pandemic was introduced in March 2020, under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY),” the ministry of labour and employment said in a statement.
“An amendment to this effect was made by Ministry of Labour & Employment in Employees’ Provident Funds Scheme, 1952 by inserting therein sub-para (3) under paragraph 68L, through notification in the Official Gazette,” it added.
EPFO allows subscribers to withdraw non-refundable advance in certain cases like illness, buying a house etc. Now, individuals can withdraw money from their PF account, citing COVID-19 pandemic as a reason.
“The COVID-19 advance has been a great help to the EPF members during the pandemic, especially for those having monthly wages of less than Rs. 15,000. As on date, EPFO has settled more than 76.31 lakh COVID-19 advance claims thereby disbursing a total of Rs. 18,698.15 crore,” the ministry said.
The EPFO will also settle COVID-19 claims within three days, the ministry of labour and employment said . “Considering urgent need of members for financial support in these trying times, it has been decided to accord top priority to COVID-19 claims. EPFO is committed to settle these claims within three days of their receipt,” the statement mentioned.
To process the claims faster, the retirement body has deployed auto-claim settlement process for those who with complete KYC documents. “Auto-mode of settlement enables EPFO to reduce the claim settlement cycle to just 3 days as against the statutory requirement to settle the claims within 20 days,” it further added.
“During the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, ‘mucormycosis’ or black fungus has been declared an epidemic recently. In such trying times, EPFO endeavours to lend a helping hand to its members by meeting their financial needs. Members who have already availed the first COVID-19 advance can now opt for a second advance also. The provision and process for withdrawal of second Covid-19 advance is same as in the case of first advance,” the ministry further said.
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