On the heels of amending the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) Scheme, 1952 to allow 90% withdrawal for housing purposes, the Labour Ministry has simplified the process of EPF account holders to make non-refundable advances from their account for medical reasons as well, says a news report.
The amendment in clauses 68-J and 68-N now allows over four crore EPF subscribers to access funds in their accounts without a doctors’ certificate.
The Labour Ministry has amended the clause 68-J and 68-N of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme 1952 for enabling members to take non-refundable advances from their account for the treatment of illness and buying equipment to minimise the hardship on account of handicap," a senior official was quoted as saying.
The issue of notification for the amendment was done on 25th April.
Up until now, EPFO subscribers were able to seek advances under Para 68-J for their own treatment or their dependents’ treatment when the hospitalisation has been for the duration of one month or more, important surgical operations, or in the case of TB, leprosy, paralysis, cancer, mental derangement or heart ailment. However, this advance was approved and granted when the subscriber submitted a certificate from the doctor at the hospital, stating that hospitalisation for a month or more, or a major surgical operation was indispensable. Furthermore, another certificate from the employer or employee that the subscriber or his dependent is not enrolled in the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme facility and benefits was required.
Under Para 68-N, physically challenged members can seek advances for the purchase of equipment related to their handicap. Similar to the provisions of Para 68-J, withdrawals were allowed after medical certificates from a medical practitioner or an officer authorised by EPFO was submitted.
With the amendment taking place, these requirements for submitting the medical certificates and documents have been done away with. Now, the subscriber can seek funds for these reasons using a composite form and a self-declaration. However, the cap on the withdrawal stays, i.e., “the amount shall not exceed the member’s basic wages and dearness allowance for six months or his own share of contribution with interest thereon or cost of equipment, whichever is lower.”