Grievances pertaining to disbursement of pension: Chapter 5 of 110th Report of Parliamentary Committee on Pensioner’s Grievances
Grievances pertaining to disbursement of pension
5.0 Pension is disbursed through Pension Disbursing Agencies comprising Banks, treasuries, Defence Pension Disbursing Offices among others. Majority of pensioners receive pension through banks. Banks have established their Centralised Pension Processing Centres (CPPC), which are the focal points in each bank to process pension cases.
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5.1 The role of Pension disbursing agencies (Banks) in the disbursement of pension is as follows:
(i) Once the Special Seal Authority PPO is issued by the PAO of the concerned Ministry/Department to the Pension Disbursing Bank’s CPPC (Centralized Pension Processing Cell), each Pension disbursing bank has to ensure that the pension is credited into the pensioner’s account by the last working day of the month to which pension relates, except in the month of March when it would be credited in the first working day of April.
(ii) Banks are to upwardly revise the Pension of the pensioner/family pensioner with their increasing age:
|Age of the Pensioner||Additional Quantum of Pension|
|From 80 years to less than 85 years||20% of basic pension|
|From 85 years to less than 90 years||30% of basic pension|
|From 90 years to less than 95 years||40% of basic pension|
|From 95 years to less than 100 years||50% of basic pension|
|100 years or more||100% of basic pension|
This percentage of upward revision is built into the Banks’ software and happens automatically.
(iii) Ordinarily, the Annual Life Certificate should be submitted in the Bank from November 1 to November 30 every year. However, keeping in view the difficulties faced by very senior citizens aged 80 years and above, an exclusive window from October 1 onwards has been provided to them to avoid the major rush from 1st November onwards.
(iv) Further, in view of the pandemic and with the objective of avoiding crowds in the Pension Disbursing Banks, the timeline for submission of Life Certificate, in consultation with the Controller General of Accounts, Dept. of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has been extended from November 30, 2020 to February 28, 2021 so that pension flow does not stop after the month of November.
5.2 The Committee has received a large number of representations from pensioners and Pensioner Associations highlighting the grievances faced by pensioners’ during disbursement of pension. The representations were forwarded to the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare for comments. The Committee has examined the replies furnished by the Department which are dealt with in the succeeding paragraphs.
Jeevan Pramaan Patra (Digital Life Certificate)
5.3 As per the Guidelines of the Ministry of Finance, the pensioner would be required to furnish a life certificate in November each year in the prescribed form. However, a pensioner who produces a life certificate in the prescribed form signed by any of the following, is exempted from personal appearance: –
a) A person exercising the powers of a Magistrate under the Criminal Procedure code;
b) A Registrar or Sub-Registrar appointed under Indian Registration Act;
c) A Gazetted officer of the Government;
d) A Police Officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector in-charge of a Police Station;
e) A Class-I officer of the Reserve Bank of India, an officer (including Grade II office) of the State Bank of India or its subsidiary;
f) A pensioned Officer who, before retirement, exercised the powers of a magistrate;
g) A Justice of Peace;
h) A Block Development Officer, Munsif, Tehsildar or Naib Tehsildar;
i) A Head of Village Panchayat, Gram Panchayat, Gaon Panchayat or an Executive Committee of a Village;
j) A Member of Parliament, of State legislatures or of legislatures of Union Territory Governments/Administration
k) Treasury Officer
5.4 Some common difficulties encountered by Pensioners in the submission of physical life certificate are:
- Old pensioners often find it difficult to go physically to the Bank branches for giving Life Certificate.
- The queues in the branches in the month of November are often very long and Pensioners find it difficult to wait.
5.5 Some common difficulties encountered by Pension disbursing Banks in receiving physical life certificate are:
- The space in branches is small and difficult to offer Pensioners comfortable waiting space.
- Shortage of staff in branches for obtaining Life certificate.
Read also: Introduction – Category of Pensioners : Chapter 1 of 110th Report of Parliamentary Committee on Pensioner’s Grievances
5.6 Instructions have, therefore, been issued for submission of Life Certificate digitally through Jeevan Pramaan App. Such Digital Life Certificate can be submitted using finger print or iris scanning of the pensioner with the help of a bio-metric device which can be connected to a mobile phone or a computer. In case, however, it is not possible to have Digital Life Certificate either through finger print or through iris scanning, physical Life Certificate submitted by the pensioner is also acceptable.
5.7 DoPPW commenced a pilot project in 8 cities and later expanded it to 24 cities wherein all the Pensioners’ Associations were roped in to obtain Life Certificate from the homes of Pensioners using an Iris-enabled device provided by the Department free of cost. Further, this Department has been continuously monitoring/coordinating with all major pension disbursing banks to resolve these issues. As a result, alliance of Public Sector Banks (PSB) has started Doorstep Banking Service and submission of Life Certificate is one of the services included under this scheme in 100 major cities.
5.8 The Department has also issued instructions, whereby the Banks were directed to resort to Video-based KYC within the guidelines of RBI which will obviate the need to resort to a bio-metric enabled device. UCO Bank has already started this successfully and other Banks have been asked to follow suit. DoPPW advised all the Pension Disbursing Banks vide its OMs dated 11.09.2020 and 27.11.2020 to adopt the Video based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP) as an additional facility for obtaining a Life Certificate from the pensioners, within permissible RBI guidelines. UCO Bank has become a pioneer in this area and has already collected video-based life certificate for their 6546 pensioners. The Department is also coordinating with other Banks and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) for further progress in the matter.
5.9 In order to make this facility available across the country, DoPPW roped in the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) and utilise its huge network of Postmen and Gramin Dak Sevaks in providing doorstep facility to pensioners for submission of life certificate digitally. As a result a huge number of pensioners across the country shall be able to avail door step service through Postmen/ Gramin Dak Sevak, without visiting to bank branch or standing in a queue outside the bank branches by paying a nominal amount.
Read also: Effectiveness of CPENGRAMS and Pension Adalats – Way Forward: Chapter 2 of of 110th Report of Parliamentary Committee on Pensioner’s Grievances
5.10 The Department also engaged with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to develop a face-recognition technology- based system based on UIDAI Aadhaar software. As per this facility, the identity of a person will be established through face recognition technique. The UIDAI server will identify the same and DLC shall get generated. Various checks are being incorporated into the system to avoid any malfunctioning. However, as of now trials are on for this digital facility. This is in advanced stage of trials by MeitY. Once successful, it will be possible to give LC from any Android based smart phone.
5.11 The Committee is highly appreciative of the Department for leveraging advanced technology to the maximum possible extent and for leaving no stone unturned in redressing pensioners’ grievances and promoting their welfare. Infact, the Committee wishes that each Ministry and Department of the Government should work with similar conviction in public interest. The Committee recommends the Department to gradually expand the scope of DLC from Home project, Doorstep Banking and submission of DLC through postal agent to all major cities and towns. The Committee recommends the Department to ensure that Video based Customer Identification Process and Facial recognition technology are operationalized on a wider scale at the earliest.
5.12 The Committee is of the view that elderly people, especially those aged 70 and above and those with physical infirmities experience inconvenience in withdrawing their pension amount from the Bank. Therefore, the Committee recommends the Department to take up the matter with Reserve Bank of India and Ministry of Finance and assess the feasibility of utilizing the Business Correspondent network to enable senior citizens to withdraw their pension amount from the comfort of their homes.
Sensitization of Bank Officials and need for a Pensioner Ombudsman
5.13 Pensioners’ associations have apprised the Committee that Banks take unduly long time to convert pension accounts to the family pensioner after the death of the main pensioner and in starting family pension sanctioned to the dependent unmarried/ widowed/ divorced daughters, leading to unnecessary harassment. Instructions of Ministry of Finance are available to convert all pension accounts to joint accounts with the spouse and to start pension without delay in all cases. Pension payment should be started without delay on receipt of PPO in all other cases. Besides this, the Committee observed that significant number of grievances lodged in CPENGRAMS portal are related to inordinate delay in the revision of pension/family pension, submission of life certificate, etc.
Read also: Grievances pertaining to Pension Policy, Pension Structure and other Retirement Benefits: Chapter 3 of 110th Report of Parliamentary Committee on Pensioner’s Grievances
5.14 On being asked about the average time taken for the commencement of family pension, the Department has informed the Committee that as per information gathered from CPAO, scrolls received from Banks during the calendar year 2020 i.e. from January2020 to December2020, time taken for the commencement of family pension to spouse on death of pensioner or other family member co-authorized for pension on the same PPO No. varied from a minimum of 34 days to a maximum of 126 days.
5.15 As per information received from banks, the difficulties faced by Pension Disbursing authorities while processing family pension cases is as under:-
- Late submission of information of death of the pensioner and complete documents by the family pensioner of the deceased pensioners.
- In many cases, the name of family pensioner is either not available in PPO/e-SSA or it is deleted in subsequent e-SSA for which CPPCs seek clarification from the PSA through CPAO, which results in delay.
- The name of family pensioner differs between PPO & CBS account with Bank.
- The rate of admissible family pension is not clear to bank in some cases.
- In certain cases family pensioner is settled abroad without informing the bank and the case of family pension/death certificate duly authenticated by appropriate authorities does not reach the bank in time.
- Late information of death of regular pensioner is received from the family pensioner/members. In the meantime the pensioner’s account is continuously credited with regular pension payment till date of submission of next life certificate
- Late submission of complete set of documents duly verified by pension account holding branch officials
- ln case of missing regular pensioners, as per codal procedures the copy of FlR, final report of investigating officer, affidavit from the family pensioners etc. needs to be processed through HOD to PAO to CPAO and CPAO to CPPC, it takes a lot of time for commencement of family pension to spouse.
Read also: Grievances pertaining to Authorization, sanction and processing of pension: Chapter 4 of 110th Report of Parliamentary Committee on Pensioner’s Grievances
5.16 The Committee notes that Central Pension Processing Centres (CPPC) had been established as the central repository of data to facilitate data management and processing in a centralised manner. The intention was that the CPCC, one for each bank, would function as a back office to support the functioning of the large number of pension paying branches. The pension paying branches were to continue to be interface with individual pensioners. The Committee notes that pension paying branches, instead of resolving issues raised by the pensioners, either direct the pensioners to approach the CPPC or pass on the responsibility for delays and inaccuracy in payment to the CPPC. The Committee takes cognizance of the difficulties faced by Banks in processing family pension cases but also feels that Bank officials need to be properly sensitised about their role and to appreciate the special needs of senior citizens. The Committee also recommends the Department to discuss the matter with RBI and Ministry of Finance and assess the feasibility of appointing a Pensioner Ombudsman on the lines of Bank Ombudsman for resolving grievances arising out of disbursement of pensions and apprise the Committee regarding the same in its Action Taken Replies.