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74% claimants during lockdown “low-wage earners”, says EPFO

An Employees Provident Fund Organisation sub-regional office. File

An Employees Provident Fund Organisation sub-regional office. File   | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

36.02 lakh claims disbursing ₹11,540 crore settled during April and May, it says

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on Tuesday said over 74% claimants during the lockdown were “low wage earners”, that is those who earn less than ₹15,000 a month.

“Despite the lockdown restrictions, the EPFO settled a staggering 36.02 lakh claims thereby disbursing ₹11,540 crore to its members during April and May. Of this, 15.54 lakh claims, disbursing ₹4,580 crore, were related to the recently introduced COVID-19 advance under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,” it said in a statement.

It said the special withdrawal scheme related to the pandemic had helped members with incomes less than ₹15,000. Under the scheme, members can withdraw up to three months’ basic wages plus dearness allowance or 75% of the amount in their EPF account, whichever is less.

“A look at wage slab-wise data points out that more than 74% claimants belonged to the slab of less than ₹15,000 wage. The high income category with wages more than ₹50,000 accounted for a mere 2%. Approximately 24% claims were made by the members with wages falling in the ₹15,000 to less than ₹50,000 category.”

Despite shortage of staff, the EPFO said it had settled 36.02 lakh claims in April and May, an increase from 33.75 lakh claims for the same months last year.

“Apart from commitment of staff, use of Artificial Intelligence played a big role in achieving new benchmarks in claim settlement. As EPFO offices operated with skeletal staff, an out of the box innovation was needed to meet the expectations of its members. Turning adversity into advantage, EPFO launched its first fully automatic claim settlement system in a record time of just five days. Almost 54% of the COVID-19 claims are now being settled through the auto mode.” It said about 80,000 claims were being settled every day.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:20:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/74-claimants-during-lockdown-low-wage-earners-says-epfo/article31787431.ece

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