You can now access your provident fund to pay for medical expenses without having to go through laborious paperwork. On 25 April, the Ministry of Labour and Employment notified changes to The Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme, 1952, doing away with the need to submit a medical certificate to make partial withdrawals from your provident fund kitty.
“A member would only be required to submit a self-declaration, which has already been included in the Composite Claim Form, to avail advance from the provident fund for illness in certain cases. A member would no longer be required to submit any other document or any pro forma whatsoever to avail advance under paragraph 68-J,” the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) said in a circular.
According to paragraph 68-J of the EPF Scheme, a member may be allowed “non-refundable advance from his account in the (Provident) Fund” in cases of hospitalization lasting for one month or more, major surgical operation, or in case of suffering from tuberculosis, leprosy, paralysis, cancer, mental derangement or heart ailment, and having been granted leave by his employer for treatment of the same. Withdrawal is also allowed if a family member needs the treatment.
Earlier, the advance under this rule was granted only after receipt of certificates from the employer that the member is not covered under the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme facility and benefits. Also, a certificate from the doctor of the hospital where treatment was sought was required. These requirements have been done away with in the latest rules.
Changes have also been made to the paragraph 68-N, which details the partial withdrawals to members who are physically disabled. Here, too, the requirement of a medical certificate has been substituted with a self-declaration.
Composite claim form
The EPFO had introduced a single-page Composite Claim Form in February this year.
Earlier, there were different forms. You had to fill up Form 19 for complete withdrawal, or Form 10C for pension fund scheme certificate to retain membership of Employees’ Pension Scheme or to claim withdrawals, and Form 31 for partial withdrawals. The composite form has collapsed all these into one.
But there are still two types of these forms: Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar. The Aadhaar-based composite form is for individuals who have activated their Universal Account Number (UAN), linked it with their Aadhaar and bank account numbers, and whose details are embedded in the UAN portal. The non-Aadhaar form is for people who have not made the link yet.
EPF rules allow partial withdrawals on self-declaration for various purposes including buying or construction of a flat or house. But withdrawals are allowed only if an individual is a member for at least 5 years.
Withdrawal is also allowed for repayment of a home loan. But a certificate from the lender indicating outstanding principal and interest amount is required.
There are also special cases where a withdrawal is allowed if a member is unemployed or the establishment is closed or the employee has not received wages. In these cases too, no form is required.
If partial withdrawal is for a wedding (of self or children), just your signature in the new form is enough. But if the funds are used for any other purpose, the subscriber is liable to return the money with penal interest.
As technology makes it easier for you to access your retirement funds, do remember to use it only when in dire need. Otherwise you will lose the benefit of compounding.