Atal Pension Yojana is a pension scheme introduced by the Government of India in 2015–16. It was implemented with an objective to provide pension benefits to individuals in the unorganized sector. This scheme is regulated and controlled by the Pension Funds Regulatory Authority of India (PFRDA).
It is an extension of the recognized National Pension Scheme and replaces the previously institutionalised Swavalamban Pension Yojana which was poorly received by the general population. All accounts that were opened in the first year of the scheme, i.e. in 2015, were eligible for co-contributions from the Indian government for 5 years.
Atal Pension Yojana is a Social Security Scheme initiated by the Government of India and is aimed at providing a steady stream of income after the age of 60 to all citizens of India. In other words, it is a pension scheme focused mainly on the people employed in the unorganized sector such as maids, delivery boys, gardeners, etc.
The primary goal of the scheme is to make sure that no Indian citizen has to worry about sudden illness, accidents or chronic diseases in their old age, giving a sense of security. Not only confined to only unorganized sector, private sector employees or those who are working with an organization that does not provide them pension benefits can also apply for the scheme.
This pension scheme is targeted to mitigate the basic financial obligations of individuals that crop up in their retirement phase by encouraging savings from an early age. The amount of pension which an individual shall receive is directly dependent on the monthly contributions they decide to make and their age.
Beneficiaries of Atal Pension Yojana (APY) shall receive their accumulated corpus in the form of monthly payments. In the event of a beneficiary’s death, his/her spouse shall continue to receive pension benefits; and in case both such individuals are deceased, the beneficiary’s nominee shall receive the amount in a lump sum.
The features of the APY scheme are discussed below –
One of the primary conveniences of the Atal Pension Yojana is the facility of automatic debit. The bank account of a beneficiary is linked with his/her pension accounts and the monthly contributions are directly debited. On that account, individuals who have subscribed to this scheme shall ensure that their account has sufficient finances to entertain such automatic debit, failing which shall attract a penalty.
As mentioned earlier, the pension amount one is eligible to receive upon reaching the age of 60 is determined by their contributions. There are different contributions which tantamount to different pension amounts.
And, it might be so that individuals decide to make larger contributions to their pension account backed by an increased financial capacity to secure a higher pension amount later in the course of the scheme. To facilitate this requirement, the government provides an opportunity to increase and even decrease one’s contributions once a year to change the corpus amount.
Beneficiaries of the scheme can choose to receive a periodic pension of Rs. 1000, Rs. 2000, Rs. 3000, Rs. 4000, or Rs. 5000, depending on their monthly contributions.
Individuals who are above 18 years and below 40 years of age can decide to invest in the Atal Pension Yojana. Therefore, college students can also invest in this scheme to create a corpus for their old age. 40 years has been set as the maximum bar for entry into the programme, as contributions to this scheme shall be made for at least 20 years.
If a beneficiary has attained the age of 60, he/she shall be eligible to annuitise the entire corpus amount, i.e. receive monthly pensions after closing the scheme with the respective bank.
One can only exit this scheme before reaching the age of 60 under circumstances like terminal illness or death.
In the case of a beneficiary’s death, before he/she reaches 60 years of age, his/her spouse shall be entitled to receive a pension. As such, the spouse has an option to either exit the scheme with the corpus or continue to receive pension benefits.
However, if individuals choose to exit the scheme before they reach 60 years of age, they shall only be refunded their cumulative contributions and interest earned thereon.
If beneficiary delays in the payment of contributions, the following penalty charges are applicable –
In the case of continued default in payment for 6 consecutive months, such account shall be frozen and if such default continues for 12 consecutive months, that account shall be deactivated and the amount thus accumulated along with interest would be returned to the respective individual.
Tax exemption is available on contributions made by individuals towards Atal Pension Yojana under Section 80CCD of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Under Section 80CCD (1), the maximum exemption allowed is 10% of the concerned individual’s gross total income up to a limit of Rs. 1,50,000. An additional exemption of Rs. 50,000 for contributions to the Atal Pension Yojana Scheme is allowed under Section 80CCD (1B).
Regardless, it is advisable to consult a professional for these exemptions as such tax benefits can be availed based on specific provisions stated in the Income Tax Act.
All banks in India are empowered to initiate the opening of a pension account under the Atal Pension Yojana. The descriptive steps to apply for APY are –
You can obtain the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) account opening form by using any of the methods listed below:
Monthly contributions depend on the preferred final corpus amount and desired monthly pension along with the concerned individual’s age of entry into the scheme. The list of monthly contributions for Atal Pension Yojana is enumerated in the table below.
|Monthly Contributions for (In Rs.)|
|Number of Years of Contribution||Monthly Pension – Rs. 1000 | Indicative Return of Corpus – Rs. 1.7 Lakh||Monthly Pension – Rs. 2000 | Indicative Return of Corpus – Rs. 3.4 Lakh||Monthly Pension – Rs. 3000 | Indicative Return of Corpus – Rs. 5.1 Lakh||Monthly Pension – Rs. 4000 | Indicative Return of Corpus – Rs. 6.8 Lakh||Monthly Pension – Rs. 5000 | Indicative Return of Corpus – Rs. 8.5 Lakh|
Although the Atal Pension Yojana withdrawal method was initially restricted to those above the age of 60, it has since been slightly modified:
In the event of late payments, the following (APY) penalty costs will be charged on a monthly basis:
To be able to invest in the Atal Pension Yojana Scheme and receive a pension from there, individuals need to satisfy the following requirements –
Other than that, individuals who have been beneficiaries under the Swavalamban Scheme are automatically eligible and thus migrated to this scheme.
Some of the major advantages of the scheme are enumerated below –
Individuals are provided with a steady source of income after they reach 60 years, thus financially enabling them to meet basic requirements such as medications, which is fairly common in old age.
This pension scheme is backed by the Indian government and regulated by Pension Funds Regulatory Authority of India (PFRDA). Hence, individuals carry no risk of loss as the government assures their pension.
The scheme was launched primarily with the motive to alleviate the financial worries of individuals who are employed in the unorganised sector, thus enabling them to be financially independent in their later years.
In case of a beneficiary’s death, his/her spouse becomes entitled to the benefits of this scheme. They can either terminate their account and avail the entire corpus in a lump sum or choose to receive the same pension amount as the original beneficiary. In case of the death of both the beneficiary and his/her spouse, a nominee shall be entitled to receive the entire corpus amount.
According to the notification given by the Department of Financial Services that comes under the Ministry of Finance, individuals who have been or are currently a part of the income tax regime will not be eligible to join the Atal Pension Yojana scheme.
The Centre will not allow income taxpayers from availing themselves of the APY from October 1, 2022, to ensure that the benefits of the scheme meet the underprivileged.
The notification stated - “Provided that from 1st October 2022, any citizen who is or has been an income-tax payer, shall not be eligible to join APY.”