Agony of widows and widowers
Widows and widowers have to wait for over six months to get family pensions from the central government in nearly 50% of the cases, while almost all senior pensioners who turn 80 wait for more than a year to get the enhanced pension they are entitled to.
The personnel ministry, which reports to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has recorded these findings in the minutes of a meeting held on March 23 with all pensioner associations.
Terming the situation as “really grim”, pensions and pensioners welfare secretary KV Eapan said this “cannot be allowed to continue”.
This comes even as the Centre has recently adopted an online ‘Bhavishya’ pension sanction and payment tracking system. However, widows/widowers — at around 47% of all cases — had to literally run from pillar to post for over six months to get pensions, and 87% pensioners of over 80 years waited for more than a year to get the enhanced pension from the date they were due. It means these pensioners continue to get their old pension amount even after turning 80 years.
“Department of Financial Services was requested to take up the matter with the banks at the highest level to make sure that the families of the deceased pensioners get the family pension on time and an acknowledgment is invariably given by the bank to the family member on the receipt of the death certificate of the deceased pensioner and application for commencement of family pension,” the minutes note.
Present rules stipulate that this family pension to the widow/widower should begin within a month of the receipt of the death certificate, but this happened in only 38% of the cases studied by the government, despite repeated instructions issued to banks to adhere to the timeline.
The Department of Pensions also said that suitable modifications should be made in the software for automatic commencement of additional pension to those turning 80.