Explained: What are the benefits under pension schemes for covid-hit families?

The pension coverage under the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme has been extended to all registered dependents of those who have died due to Covid-19.

Amid the unfolding pandemic, the government has announced an extension of pension coverage and insurance benefits for dependents of those who died due to Covid-19.

The pension coverage under the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme has been extended to all registered dependents of those who have died due to Covid-19. It has also reiterated the announcement of the expansion of the insurance benefits under the Employees’ Deposit-Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme for members registered under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

Benefits under these schemes

ESIC scheme:

The benefits under the ESIC pension scheme for employment-related death cases are being extended to even those who have died due to Covid. All dependent family members of such persons will be eligible for a pension equivalent to 90 per cent of the average daily wage drawn by the worker as per the existing rules. This benefit will be available retrospectively with effect from March 24 last year till March 24, 2022.

Detailed guidelines on this scheme are being worked upon by the Labour Ministry and will be issued by Monday.

The eligibility conditions for the ESIC benefits are likely to include the norm that the insured person must have been registered on the ESIC online portal at least three months prior to the diagnosis of Covid resulting in death, the official said. Also, the insured person must have been employed for wages and contributions for at least 78 days should have been paid or payable for the deceased insured person during a period of one year immediately preceding the diagnosis of Covid resulting in death.

EPFO-EDLI:

The amount of maximum insurance benefit under EPFO-EDLI, as was announced earlier this month, has been increased to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 6 lakh. The provision of minimum insurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh has been restored and it will apply retrospectively from February 15 last year for the next three years.

The government has tweaked a significant eligibility condition for the workers, with benefits being made available to families of even those employees who may have changed jobs in the last 12 months preceding his/her death.

All surviving dependent family members of EPFO are eligible to avail benefits of EDLI in case of death of the member. About 6.53 crore families are expected to be eligible. Number of claims on account of death under the scheme has been estimated to be about 50,000 families per year including an increase in claims taking into account the estimated death of about 10,000 workers, which may occur due to Covid.

Who are covered under ESIC and EPFO?

ESI Act applies to all factories and notified establishments located in implemented areas employing 10 or more persons and is applicable on employees drawing wages up to Rs 21,000 per month (Rs 25,000 for persons with disabilities). It covers about 3.49 crore of family units of workers and provides cash benefits and medical facilities to 13.56 crore beneficiaries.

EPFO covers organisations employing 20 or more employees and any employee who has an EPF account automatically becomes eligible for the EDLI scheme. The EDLI scheme is managed on the basis of contribution of 0.5 per cent of monthly wages paid by the employer to the fund and there is no employee contribution. The nominee registered by the employee is eligible to claim the benefit under the scheme.

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