"The EPFO directed that from the current financial year 2014-15 the norms for claims settlement shall be settlement of all claims within 20 days," stated a recent performance review of the EPFO by its Central Provident Fund Commissioner KK Jalan.

Jalan specifically referred to the need to ensure faster settlement of pension claims. It is provided in the Employees' Provident Fund Scheme 1952 and Employees' Pension Scheme 1995 that the claims completed in all respects submitted along with the requisite documents shall be settled and the benefit amount paid to the beneficiaries within 30 days from the date of its receipt by the Commissioner.

It further states that if there is any deficiency in the claim, the same shall be recorded in writing and communicated to the applicant within 30 days from the date of receipt of such application.

According to the provision, in case the Commissioner fails without sufficient cause to settle a claim complete in all respects within 30 days, the Commissioner shall be liable for the delay beyond the said period. Penal interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum may be charged on the benefit amount and the same may be deducted from the salary of the Commissioner.

The CPFC also noted that there are complaints that claims received in the EPFO offices are not entered in the system immediately and no acknowledgement is being issued to the claimant. The deficient claims are being returned without even being entered into the system.

Jalan stated that the return or rejection of claims and reasons thereof should be watched and the establishment should be counseled and advised to submit duly complete claims.

He has directed that if in spite of such advice some establishments (firms) continue to submit deficient claims, punitive action including levy of financial penalty can be considered.

It was also stated that the offices who are settling all claims within 10 days shall be graded as excellent.

EPFO had settled 1.21 crore subscribers' claims, including withdrawal and transfer of PF and pension applications, in 2013-14, which is 13 percent more than in 2012-13.

(Agencies)

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