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Govt announces schemes to provide pension to dependents of COVID-19 victims

The Indian government last week announced a string of measures for the dependents of those who lost their lives due to COVID-19, among other benefits.

Besides family pensions, insurance benefits under the Employees’ Deposit-Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme have been enhanced and liberalised. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said these steps will help mitigate the financial difficulties faced by these families.

To help these families live a life of dignity and maintain a good standard of living, the benefit of the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) pension scheme for employment-related death cases is extended to those who have died of COVID-19, the PMO said in a statement.

Dependent family members of such persons will be entitled to the benefit of pension equivalent to 90 percent of the average daily wage drawn by the worker as per the existing norms.

This benefit will be available retrospectively with effect from March 24, last year, and for all such cases till March 24, 2022.

The amount of maximum insurance benefit has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, and the provision of minimum insurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh has been restored and will apply retrospectively from February 15, 2020, for the next three years.

To benefit families of contractual and casual workers, the condition of continuous employment in only one establishment has been liberalised, with the benefit being made available to families of even those employees who may have changed jobs in the last 12 months preceding his death, it said.

Detailed guidelines of these schemes are being issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the PMO added.

n a tweet, Modi said, “Family Pension under ESIC and EPFO- Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme will provide a financial cushion to those families who have lost their earning member due to COVID-19. The Government of India stands in solidarity with these families.”

A senior labour ministry official said under the ESIC scheme for the families of insured persons (IPs) who have died due to COVID-19, the beneficiary will receive pension subject to two conditions.

“Firstly, the IP must have been registered on the ESIC online portal at least three months before the diagnosis of COVID disease resulting in death. Secondly, the IP must have been employed for wages, and contributions for at least 78 days should have been paid or payable in respect of deceased IP during a period of one year immediately preceding the diagnosis of COVID-19 disease resulting in death,” the official said.

The scheme will be effective for a period of two years from March 24, 2020.

About the EDLI scheme, the official said the actuary has estimated that eligible family members will get an additional benefit of Rs 2,185 crore from the EDLI fund in the coming three years.

The number of claims on account of death under the scheme has been estimated to be about 50,000 families per year with an increase in claims taking into account the estimated death of about 10,000 workers, which may occur due to COVID-19, the official added.

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