There may be substantial sums of money in your EPFO account even after withdrawal or settlement of your claim. Here’s a quick rundown on how you can claim unaccounted EPFO money
In the ongoing crusade to find out more about the way the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) really works, I have been contacted by present, ex-employees and several others who are proving to be a great source of information, as long as their identities are kept confidential.
You can read the earlier piece on EPFO here.
One interesting fact that has been reconfirmed concerns those who have withdrawn their Provident Fund (PF) money as part of a claim, at any time in the past, literally from the inception of the EPFO onwards. It seems that the EPFO had an interesting way of calculating the balance and interest. They often accounted for money in your accounts till the end of the previous financial year only. Anything after that by way of interest earned, or contributions deposited by your employers, was kept in your account or in a suspense account of some sort. This is where it either languished forever, or was quietly siphoned out. There are several reasons for this:
To give an example, let us say your last date of service was 30 June 2005. By the time you claimed for settlement of both EPFO contributions and pension it was anytime between end 2005 and early 2006, maybe even later. Your forms were, as usual, pre-receipted blank.
This is what, most likely, would have happened:
Viewed dispassionately, and taking into account the manual calculations of the “least loss to EPFO” sort, it is not surprising that there are varying sums of money in EPFO accounts that by rights have had claimants already go through ‘settlements’. As of now, they continue to also earn interest and in all likelihood also remain tax-free on principal and interest earned. The interest earning element will discontinue if there has been no fresh contribution for three years.
If you are, or have been, an EPFO claimant, or are a direct heir/nominee of an EPFO claimant, what do you need to do?
Currently, the EPFO, in its wisdom, does not have a specific form for this sort of a secondary claim. It has been suggested by ex-employees that you file the relevant Form 19 (if the contributor is alive) or Form 20 (if contributor is deceased/incapable) and enclose a copy of the information on balance received by RTI application, along with a simple letter explaining why this is being claimed again. If the relevant EPFO office rejects the claim, then file it on the EPFO HQ by registered post and follow up using a judicious mix of the public grievance portal (http://pgportal.gov.in/) as well as an RTI query.
(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)