The Centre has asked all its departments to ensure that family pension begins within a month of receiving claims from the family of a deceased government employee.
The Department of Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare has also come out with detailed notes -- one for employees under Old Pension Scheme and the other for those under National Pension System (NPS) -- to facilitate expeditious disbursement of all entitlements of the family on the death of government staff.
"In addition, employee's contributions and returns thereon in the NPS pension corpus shall also be paid to the family member," it said.
The head of office will start the process to sanction family pension and simultaneously close Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN) under the NPS. Government contribution and returns thereon would be transferred into the government account, the order said.
"The remaining amount would be paid in a lump sum to the nominee or legal heir as per PFRDA regulations," it said.
National Movement for Old Pension Scheme (NMOPS) Delhi unit president Manjeet Singh Patel, who has been fighting for the scrapping of the new pension system to ensure employees get benefits of the old pension scheme, said the new order will provide expeditious relief to the affected families.
"We are very happy that the government has decided to give an employee's contribution and returns on it in his/her NPS pension corpus in addition to the family pension.
"We also request the Centre to ensure that employees get sole right on their entire contribution and returns (except's the government contribution) in NPS corpus also so that they can withdraw it as and when they want," Mr Patel said.
NMOPS is a non-profit organisation with over 13 lakh central and state government employees as its members.
The Department of Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare order said it was noticed that the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of several government employees during the recent surge.
"In many cases, the deceased employees were the sole bread-winners of their family and the casualties have left families devastated and in an urgent need of funds for livelihood.
"It is, therefore, incumbent on the government to ensure that the family pension and other entitlements in respect of the deceased employees are released to their families expeditiously," it said in the order issued on Thursday.
It has asked all departments to strictly comply with the rules and instructions and to ensure that payment of provisional family pension is commenced by the head of office immediately on receipt of the claim (with death certificate) from the eligible family member and payment of provisional death gratuity is made to the nominees/family members immediately after forwarding the case to the Pay and Accounts Office.
Simultaneously, the action may be taken on a priority basis for disbursement of regular family pension through the bank and for payment of other entitlements of the family on the death of the government employee, the department said.
"It may be ensured that the PPO for family pension is issued and disbursement of regular family pension is commenced by the bank not later than one month of the receipt of the claim for family pension," it said.
All departments have been asked to submit a monthly report comprising details like name and designation of government servant died since January 1, 2020, the date on which provisional family pension and provisional gratuity were sanctioned, the date on which PPO was issued, the date on which other entitlements were paid and reasons for the delays, if any, and remedial action taken to avoid delays in future, the order said.