Kochi: Thousands of Employees Provident Fund Organiation (EPFO) pensioners were in for a rude jolt as the pension amount that reached their accounts on Thursday disappeared hours later.
The EPFO explained the unexpected move as recovery of higher pension paid beyond one's eligibility as part of the process of restructuring the statutory pension system in accordance with a Supreme Court order.
The excess amounts paid to those who retired before 2014 without exercising the option for higher pension are being recovered. As per the apex court verdict they are not eligible for higher pension.
The entire amount would be returned to those who are eligible for higher pension. For others, only the statutory pension will be given, the EPFO clarified.
The Kochi regional office of the EPFOO said that the process would be completed in the coming days. The pension of over 3,000 persons would be restructured in Kochi alone.
Why the mess
Several pensioners have been drawing higher pensions on the basis of favourable court verdicts obtained after filing cases. The EPFO had issued a circular stating that those who did not opt for the higher pension and did not file cases were also eligible for the higher pension. The amount paid to those who belong to this latter category is being recovered in the first phase.
In the case of the aforementioned former category pensioners who are drawing higher pension on the basis of court orders, a decision will be taken after examining each case. This will take place in the second phase.
The recovery of the pension without giving prior notice has come as a blow to those who depend only on the amount to survive. There are strong protests against the EPFO’s action.