Over 93 lakh claims have been settled by subscribers of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in this financial year so far, of which 11.27 lakh claims were filed through the UMANG mobile application. The claims filed through the mobile app recorded a 180 per cent increase from the 3.97 lakh claims filed through it during the pre-Covid-19 period of December-March 2020, the Labour Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
As per EPFO’s internal estimates, over Rs 8,500 crore were withdrawn by employees under the COVID-19 advances facility from the EPFO till July-end, taking the total withdrawals to Rs 27,000-30,000 crore by nearly 80 lakh subscribers. The high number of these withdrawals has mostly been from low-income workers, mainly those earning below Rs 15,000 a month.
The last officially released data by EPFO on June 9 stated that in April-May, 36.02 lakh claims were settled, disbursing Rs 11,540 crore in total. Of these, 15.54 lakh claims were settled under the COVID-19 advance facility, disbursing Rs 4,580 crore to the subscribers.
The EPFO had then said that over 74 per cent of the total claimants during the lockdown period were earning below Rs 15,000. The high income category, with wages above Rs 50,000, accounted for 2 per cent of the claimants, while around 24 per cent of the claims were made by members with wages between Rs 15,000-50,000. The 36.02 lakh claims settled this April-May was a 6.7 per cent rise from 33.75 lakh claims settled in April-May 2019.
In the wake of the pandemic, the Centre had in March announced an online facility to allow withdrawal not exceeding the basic wages and dearness allowances for three months or up to 75 per cent of the amount standing to a member’s credit in the EPF account, whichever is less.
The scheme allowing advance withdrawal was notified on March 27 and the online facility launched on March 29.
The existing withdrawal conditions allow subscribers to take non-refundable advance or withdraw money before retirement for specified purposes, such as a medical emergency, marriage, higher education or purchase of a house, etc. Also, subscribers who have been unemployed for more than a month can withdraw up to 75 per cent of their balance.
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