Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is one of the most widely-used investment schemes by the salaried class in the country. The benefits of EPF are extended to all establishments with 20 or more employees. In February, over 6 crore EPFO members had cause to cheer when the government hiked the interest rate to 8.65% for 2018-19.
While the retirement fund body strongly advises against treating PF money as a bank account - after all, the social security benefits accrue only when continuity is maintained - the body allows its members to make partial withdrawals after 5-10 years of service for meeting such specific needs. The retirement fund body recently also gave its subscribers an option to withdraw PF up to 75% of the balance after one month of unemployment.
What's more, in 2017, EPFO had introduced an online facility for PF withdrawals, which not only cut short the processing time for requests but also reduced tedious paperwork.
There are a few PF withdrawal rules that you have to keep in mind. For instance, to withdraw your PF online you need to get your Universal Account Number (UAN) activated and KYC verified. "If the above conditions are met, then the requirement of an attestation of the previous employer to carry out the process of withdrawal can be done away with," says Cleartax.
For the uninitiated, UAN is a unique 12-digit number allotted to each EPFO subscriber. To get your UAN, you need to either check your monthly salary slip or contact the human resource department at your place of employment. Alternatively, you can also obtain your UAN on the EPFO portal.
Just visit the site and at the bottom right of the page, you will find the 'Know Your UAN status' link under the 'Important Links' section. When you click on it, you will be redirected to a page that will ask for details such as an EPF member ID or linked Aadhaar-PAN number and your date of birth. After filling in all the details, it asks for an OTP, which is sent on your mobile, and once validated, you will receive your UAN by SMS.
To activate the UAN, you need to go to the site and click on the 'Activate UAN' link at the bottom right of the page. After you fill in the relevant KYC details - Aadhaar, PAN and bank details along with the IFSC code - you will have to wait for six hours for the newly-activated account to be accessible.
Here's how online PF withdrawal can be done in a few easy steps:
- Log into the EPFO portal with your UAN and password to initiate the online PF withdrawal process
- Click on the 'Manage' tab and select KYC to check whether your KYC details are accurate.
- Next, go to the tab 'Online Services' and select the 'Claim' option from the drop-down menu
- The 'Claim' screen will display the member details, KYC details and other service details. You will have to enter the last four digits of your bank account number. Click on the tab 'Proceed for Online Claim' to submit your claim form.
- In the EPFO claim form, select the claim you require, be it full EPF Settlement (Form 19), EPF Part withdrawal (Form 31) or pension withdrawal (Form 10C), under the tab 'I Want To Apply For'. According to Cleartax, if a member is not eligible for any of the services like PF withdrawal or pension withdrawal, that option will not show up in the drop-down menu.
- The last step is to click on 'Get Aadhaar OTP' and a one-time password will be sent to your registers mobile number. With this your online PF withdrawal claim is submitted and, if approved, the PF amount will be credited to your bank account within 10 days.
How to check PF claim status:
- Go to the EPFO portal and click on 'Our Services' and choose 'For Employees' to check the PF claim status online
- Click on 'Know Your PF Status'
- Enter your UAN and the captcha image
- In the page that opens, you have to enter details such as the state of your PF office, your establishment code and your Provident Fund account number
- Click on the 'Submit' button to know the status of your PF claim