Friday, 19 April 2019

National Pension Schemes (NPS): Eligibility, Types, Contribution & Charges

National Pension Schemes (NPS): Eligibility, Types, Contribution & Charges

The National Pension Schemes (NPS), earlier known as New Pension Scheme is a pension system open to all citizens of India. The NPS invests the contributions of its subscribers into equities and debt and the final pension amount depends on the performance of these investments. Any Indian citizen from the age of 18-65 can open an NPS account. The NPS matures at the age of 60, but can be extended till the age of 70. Partial withdrawals up to 25% of your contributions can be made from the NPS after three years of account opening for specific purposes like home buying, children’s education or serious illness.
National Pension System (NPS): Eligibility, Types, Investment & Charges

NPS Returns

NPS does not have a fixed interest rate. Instead, your money in the NPS account is invested in up to 4 asset classes – equities, corporate bonds, government bonds and alternative assets through various pension funds. These pension funds earn returns linked to the performance of stocks and bonds. The returns on different NPS funds are shown below :

NPS SCHEME Returns as on 22-March-2019

  • Tier I Account: This account carries a tax deduction under Section 80C up to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum and under Section 80CCD (1B) up to Rs 50,000 per annum. On maturity at the age of 60, 40% of the corpus is tax free and can be withdrawn. Another 40% must mandatorily be used to buy an annuity. The balance 20% can either be used to buy an annuity or can be withdrawn after paying tax.
  • Tier II Account: This is a voluntary retirement-cum-savings account that can be opened only if you have a Tier I account. Subscribers are free to invest or withdraw their funds anytime according to their convenience. This account has no tax deductions, for private sector employees or self-employed persons. In a press conference held on 10th December 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the NPS Tier 2 account will also be eligible for tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act with a 3 year lock-in.

How to invest in NPS Schemes?

If you have an Aadhar Card, PAN Card and bank account, you can open an NPS account online at enps.nsdl.com or enps.karvy.com. These are the portals of the Central Recordkeeping Agencies (CRAs) in the NPS. If you prefer to do this offline (in person) you can go to your nearest NPS Point-of-Presence (PoP) which is typically a designated branch of your bank. 
In either case (online or offline account opening), you can make contributions, change key details, change fund managers and initiate withdrawals online at enps.nsdl.com

What is the role of CRAs and PoPs?

Central Record-Keeping Agencies or CRAs issue you a PRAN (Permanent Retirement Account Number) Card and maintain your NPS account. They also process withdrawals and exits from the National Pension Schemes. You can make contributions directly on their websites and put in a request for change of pension fund manager, asset allocation or KYC details like address. The two NPS CRAs are NSDL and Karvy.  
PoPs or Points of Presence are intermediaries who facilitate account opening, accept contributions (both physical cheques and online) and update your details on request. In return they get a commission from your NPS corpus. This is 0.25% of each offline contribution and 0.1% of each online contribution.

NPS Contribution

In NPS Tier 1, the minimum initial contribution is Rs 500. There is also a minimum annual contribution of Rs 1,000. There is no maximum annual contribution. The minimum amount per contribution is Rs 500.
In NPS Tier 2, the minimum initial contribution is Rs 1,000. There is no minimum or maximum annual contribution. The minimum amount per contribution is Rs 250.

NPS Charges

National Pension Schemes is one of the cheapest investment products available with extremely low charges. Pension Fund Manager fees are capped at 0.01% compared to 2-2.5% for mutual funds. Other charges in the NPS are also extremely low as you will notice from the table below.
IntermediaryCharge headService Charges*
CRA (Central Record-Keeping Agency)Account Opening chargesNSDL Rs 40   or  Karvy Rs 39.36
Annual Maintenance cost per accountNSDL Rs 95   or  Karvy Rs 57.63
Charge per transactionNSDL Rs 3.75 or Karvy Rs 3.36
POP (Point-of-Presence)Initial subscriber registration and contribution uploadRs. 125
Any subsequent transactions0.25%  of contribution,
Min. Rs 20
Max. Rs 25,000
CustodianAsset Servicing charges0.0032% p.a for Electronic segment & Physical segment
Pension Fund Manager chargesInvestment Management Fee0.01% p.a.
NPS TrustReimbursement of Expenses0.005% p.a
CRAFor the address change, fund manager change and other such transactions within the NPS set-upRs 20 per transaction.
PoPPersistency ChargeRs 50 per annum for every year completed in the NPS.
Note: If you contribute online to the National Pension Schemes, remember to contribute through net banking using payment gateways such as SBI ePay or BillDesk. Paying through debit or credit card will attract additional charges of around 0.5% by your bank

NPS Models

National Pension Schemes has different models. NPS (Central Government) and NPS (State Government) are open to government employees only. The asset allocation and pension fund manager selection is decided by the government. However, in a press conference held on 10th December 2018 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley laid out certain major changes. The Central Government contribution will be enhanced from 10% to 14% of the monthly salary + dearness allowance. The employee contribution would be kept unchanged at 10% of the monthly salary + dearness allowance. Central Government employees would also be able to choose 1 of 4 options: 100% fixed income, 85% fixed income, 75% fixed income and 50% fixed income, with the balance in equity. The choice would depend on their individual risk tolerance. They would also be able to choose any one of the 8 fund managers in the NPS. Central Government employees would also get a deduction for Tier 2 contributions up to Rs 1.5 lakh per annum. State Government employees will also enjoy the same benefits once their respective states adopt the same changes in their State Government models.
NPS (Corporate) is open to the employees of firms who have registered for the NPS. The asset allocation here is decided by the firm (employer).
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NPS (All Citizens) is open to all citizens of India including those employees whose companies are not registered with NPS corporate, those people who are self employed or even unemployed/retired individuals.
You can shift between NPS (Central/State Government), NPS Corporate and NPS (All Citizens) if you move from one sector to another. To do this, you have to fill the Inter Sector Shifting (ISS) form.

NPS Asset Classes

The National Pension Schemes has four asset classes. Asset Class E invests in equities or stocks. Asset Class C invests in Corporate Bonds. Asset Class G invests in Central and State Government Bonds and Asset Class A invests in alternative assets like Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InVITs).
Under National Pension Schemes, you can follow either pick your own asset allocation or outsource it to the NPS schemes. In Active Choice, you pick your own split between equities, corporate bonds, government bonds and alternative assets. However the allocation to equities cannot be more than 75% of the corpus. In Auto Choice, the lifecycle fund that you have chosen does this for you (maximum equity allocation is again 75%). The fund also automatically rebalances your asset allocation as you get older towards less equity and more debt. You can change your asset allocation up to two times in a financial year. Asset Class A (Alternative Assets) is only offered in NPS Active Choice and the upper limit for investing in it is 5% of your corpus.
Please see the table below for asset allocation in each life-cycle fund.
AggressiveConservativeModerate
AgeECGECGECG
Upto 35 years75%10%15%25%45%30%50%30%20%
3671%11%18%24%43%33%48%29%23%
3767%12%21%23%41%36%46%28%26%
3863%13%24%22%39%39%44%27%29%
3959%14%27%21%37%42%42%26%32%
4055%15%30%20%35%45%40%25%35%
4151%16%33%19%33%48%38%24%38%
4247%17%36%18%31%51%36%23%41%
4343%18%39%17%29%54%34%22%44%
4439%19%42%16%27%57%32%21%47%
4535%20%45%15%25%60%30%20%50%
4632%20%48%14%23%63%28%19%53%
4729%20%51%13%21%66%26%18%56%
4826%20%54%12%19%69%24%17%59%
4923%20%57%11%17%72%22%16%62%
5020%20%60%10%15%75%20%15%65%
5119%18%63%9%13%78%18%14%68%
5218%16%66%8%11%81%16%13%71%
5317%14%69%7%9%84%14%12%74%
5416%12%72%6%7%87%12%11%77%
5515%10%75%5%5%90%10%10%80%
Asset ClassE = EquityC= Corporate BondsG= Government Bonds

NPS Calculator

NPS Calculator is a unique tool that you can utilise in order to estimate your future monthly pension and potential investment corpus created through deposits into the NPS account till retirement. A NPS calculator typically features the following fields:
  • Date of Birth – This is used to calculate your current age and figure out for how many years you will be making NPS deposits.
  • Contribution – This can be annual, bi-annual, quarterly or monthly and indicates the periodic contribution being made to the National Pension Schemes Tier 1 account (Tier 2 account does not have tax benefits or withdrawal limitations).
  • Expected rate of return – NPS investments are market-linked hence their returns cannot be predicted in advance. Thus the expected rate of return (expressed as a percentage value) is used to calculate the future corpus value of your NPS contributions. Higher the value in this field, higher is the final corpus size.
  • Annuity Purchase – This percentage figure indicates the portion of your NPS future corpus that will be used to purchase annuities that determine your monthly pension after retirement. Under existing rules, minimum 40% of NPS corpus is to be mandatorily used for the purchase of annuities. Higher the portion of NPS future corpus used for annuity purchase, greater will be the monthly pension that you will get.
  • Annuity Rate – This is the expected rate at which annuities are expected to grow after your retirement. Higher annuity rate will lead to higher pension payout. However, the annuity rate is also market-linked hence, cannot be predicted accurately in advance.

NPS Calculator Results

After input of the above data, the NPS calculator will display the monthly pension amount that you are likely to receive after your retirement. Additionally, you will also receive data regarding the principal amount invested, the returns earned as well as a break-up of the annuity corpus and lump sum payout. These results obtained from the NPS calculator are however subject to the following limitations:
  • NPS being market linked, the corpus amount is an estimate based on user input.
  • NPS calculator uses the compound interest calculator to provide its results hence actual growth of corpus will not match the estimated growth of the corpus.
  • The growth of annuity corpus is also market-linked hence the estimate may be very different from actual payout at retirement.

NPS Withdrawals

  1. You can make up to three partial withdrawals from the NPS during the entire tenure of the account.
  2. The first such withdrawal can be made after 3 years from account opening.
  3. The maximum amount that can be withdrawn through partial withdrawals is 25% of your contribution. This ceiling applies to all three withdrawals put together. For example, you can withdraw 10%, 10% and 5% in three tranches.
  4. Partial withdrawals from the NPS are tax free.
In case of an NPS Tier 2 account, there is no lock-in and hence there is no restriction on withdrawals. However withdrawals from the NPS Tier 2 account are fully taxable at slab rate. Government employees can get a tax deduction on their investment in the NPS Tier 2 account. However in this case, there is a lock-in of 3 years. They can withdraw their entire NPS Tier 2 investment thereafter.
You can also go for premature exit after completing 3 years in the NPS. If you choose this option, you can withdraw only 20% of your accumulated corpus and this withdrawal will be taxed at your slab rate. The balance 80% must be used to buy an annuity (regular pension). The annuity will be fully taxable.
The NPS account matures at the age of 60. You can withdraw 60% of your accumulated corpus after that age. This withdrawal will be tax free.

How much pension will you get in the NPS?

This depends on the performance of your NPS funds. Your contributions invested in the National Pension Schemes are invested in assets like equity or debt and earn returns. Your corpus is thus expected to steadily grow over time. When you hit the age of 60, you can use the accumulated corpus to buy an annuity (monthly pension). The actual pension you get thus depends on the corpus size and the prevailing annuity rates. For example if your corpus is Rs 1 crore and the prevailing annuity rate for a simple annuity is 8%, you will get an annual payment of Rs 8 lakh. This translates to a monthly pension of Rs 66,666.

What is an annuity? How does it work?

An annuity is a fixed payment that you get for the rest of your life in return for paying the annuity provider a lump sum amount. For example paying the annuity provider Rs 10 lakh may get you an annuity of Rs 75,000 per year for the rest of your life. There are many different types of annuities. An annuity simple pays you a sum of money for the rest of your life and terminates thereafter. If you die early, the annuity provider (typically an insurance company) may get to keep a higher amount than what it has paid you.
However the annuity provider also bears the risk of you living longer than expected and it having to pay you a lot more than the lump sum you have paid. Another type of annuity called annuity certain pays a sum of money for a defined period (say 10-15 years) even if you die before this period. The sum of money will be paid to your nominees. Yet another type is called annuity with return of purchase price. In this type of annuity, your nominees are paid back the price (lump sum) you have paid to buy the annuity, upon your death. In general, the more favourable the annuity features, the lower the annuity rate is.
Currently, there are five Annuity Service Providers (ASPs) which provide annuity services to NPS subscribers. These are LIC, SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd., ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd., HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd., and Star Union Dai-Chi Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

How should I divide my NPS funds between asset classes E,C,G and A?

That depends on your risk appetite. If you are not sure of it, simple select an NPS lifecycle fund. These funds will automatically set your asset allocation according to your age and rebalance it every year.

How can I choose a Pension Fund Manager (PFM) in the NPS?

You have to analyse previous performance of the different pension fund managers. You can get data on this at http://www.npstrust.org.in/return-of-nps-scheme. You can also change your NPS fund manager once in a financial year.
There are eight fund management companies in the National Pension Schemes.
  • ICICI Prudential Pension Fund
  • LIC Pension Fund
  • Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund
  • Reliance Capital Pension Fund
  • SBI Pension Fund
  • UTI Retirement Solutions Pension Fund
  • HDFC Pension Management Company
  • Pension fund of Birla Sunlife Insurance
There is also a default fund manager provision under NPS under i.e. SBI Pension Funds Private Ltd. This remains the default PFM if the subscriber has not chosen any PFM by himself. The funds of government subscribers in the National Pension Schemes are managed by the three public sector pension fund managers – LIC Pension Fund, UTI Retirement Solutions and SBI Pension Fund. However this is set to change. According to the press conference held on 10th December, 2018 government employees will shortly be allowed to choose between all the pension fund managers in the NPS.

National Pension Schemes Benefits

If the subscriber wants to exit from the scheme, he / she have to submit a completely filled withdrawal application form along with required documents to the POP-SP. The POP-SP will forward the form to the CRA (NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited) after authenticating the documents. The subscriber’s claim will be registered and CRA will forward the application form. The CRA also assists subscribers by providing necessary information about required documents. Once the documents are received and verified, the application will be processed and CRA will settle the account.

National Pension Schemes FAQ’s

1) What would be the withdrawal Process if the PRAN of the subscriber is frozen or inactive at the time of withdrawal?
In case the PRAN of the subscriber is frozen or inactive at the time of withdrawal, the request will be processed like a regular withdrawal but a penalty will be deducted from the account of the subscriber. The penalty is charged by the CRA for reactivating the account.
2) What are the Minimum and Maximum Contribution Requirements for NPS Accounts?
Subscribers have to make at least one contribution per year to keep their account in running or active mode. The account may be frozen if certain contribution requirements are not met. To unfreeze the account, the subscriber has to visit the POP-SP and make the required contribution. The contribution requirements for each type of account are mentioned here.
For all CitizensTier I AccountsTier II Accounts
Min. Contribution at Account OpeningRs. 500Rs. 1,000
Min. Amount per ContributionRs. 500Rs. 250
Min. Total Contribution AnnuallyRs. 1,000None
Min. Frequency of Contributions1 per year1 per year
3) Can NRIs open an NPS Account?
Yes, but they have to be Indian citizens
4) What is APY?
APY or Atal Pension Yojana is a low cost retirement savings scheme. .
5) Can I invest in both NPS and APY?
Yes, you can invest in both NPS and APY. There is no bar to this.
6) Can I invest in NPS, APY and other retirement vehicles like EPF or PPF?
Absolutely. There is no rule against this.
7) What is nomination and subsequent nomination process?
Subscribers are required to declare the nominations at the time of the PRAN registration process. However, they can also file a subsequent nomination update request for subsequent nomination. This would be considered as a service request and they will be charged Rs. 20 + service tax for each request.
8) Who will receive the investment benefits in the event of death of the subscriber before the age of 60?
In the event of the death of the subscriber, the nominee will receive the entire accumulated pension wealth. If the subscriber has not declared a nominee then it will go to the legal heir of the subscriber. In both the cases, there would not be any requirement for purchasing an annuity or a monthly pension plan.
9) Can I withdraw my NPS amount if I lose my job?
No. You can only make partial withdrawals from the NPS account up to 25% of your contributions. This can only be for specific reasons like children’s marriage or education. Unemployment is not a valid ground for withdrawal.
10) Can I make partial withdrawals from the NPS?
Yes, you can do this three years after account opening. You can make partial withdrawals for specified purposes up to 25% of your contributions. Such partial withdrawals can only be made up to three times in your entire tenure in the NPS. The withdrawals can be for:
  1. Higher education of children
  2. Marriage of children
  3. For the purchase or construction of a residential house or flat either in your own name or jointly with your spouse. However if you already own or jointly own a house or flat other than ancestral property, this will not be permitted.
  4. For the treatment of any of the illnesses mentioned below. The patient can be the subscriber, his spouse, children or dependent parents.
  5. Cancer
  6. Kidney Failure
  7. Preliminary Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
  8. Multiple Sclerosis
  9. Major Organ Transplant
  10. Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
  11. Aorta Graft Surgery
  12. Heart Valve Surgery
  13. Stroke
  14. Myocardial Infarction
  15. Coma
  16. Total Blindness
  17. Paralysis
  18. Accident of serious/life-threatening nature
  19. Any other critical illness of a life-threatening nature specified by the PFRDA from time to time
11) Can you exit the NPS before the age of 60?
The National Pension Schemes has a lock-in for a period of three years from account opening. Thereafter you can go for ‘premature exit’ from the National Pension Schemes even before the age of 60. However you have to mandatorily use 80% of their corpus to buy an annuity and can only withdraw 20%. This 20% withdrawal and the annuity you buy are both taxable. An annuity is a fixed payment you get for the rest of your life. It can be taken monthly and becomes a monthly pension.
12) whom to contact if I have a problem with my nps account?
If your nps account is with Karvy, you can contact Karvy nps customer care either by phone or email. Alternatively, if your NPS account is with NSDL, you can get in touch with their customer service department over the phone or via email. Know more about NPS Customer Care

Recent News on NPS

PFRDA restricts mutual fund investments in NPS accounts
September 12, 2018
A PFRDA circular dated 20th August, 2018 restricted NPS fund managers from investing in mutual funds to just 5% of the total corpus. This move is aimed at restricting NPS subscribers from paying an additional level of charges to a mutual fund. When an NPS manager invests in a mutual fund, the NPS subscribers also pay the expense ratio of the fund.
Some of the 8 pension fund managers, registered in the NPS had adopted the strategy of investing the entire NPS corpus through mutual funds. They will have to move towards directly investing NPS money in stocks/bonds after the new circular.
The additional layer of expenses has made a difference to their returns. Kotak Pension Fund features in the bottom half of Pension Fund Managers in terms of equity returns over the last 3 and 5 years. On a one year basis, Kotak Pension Fund has delivered the lowest return for equities. It has a similar position among NPS funds, for the government bond plans managed by it as well.
Cabinet raises NPS to 14% for govt staff: news reports
December 7, 2018
The Cabinet on Thursday raised its National Pension Scheme (NPS) contribution for government employees to 14 percent from 10 percent, according to multiple reports citing sources.
Currently, the government as well as employees have equal contribution of 10 percent of basic salary to NPS. While the government’s contribution will be higher after the decision is implemented, employees will continue to contribute 10 percent.
Reports also said that the Cabinet approved tax incentives for employees’ contribution to the extent of 10 percent under 80C of the Income Tax Act.
Another decision was taken by the Cabinet for the benefit of government employees. Reports say that at retirement, employees can commute (or withdraw) up to 60 percent of the total money accumulated, which is up from the current 40 percent limit. Employees would also have the option of investing in either fixed income instruments or equities, according to sources cited in the reports.
If a government employee decides not to withdraw a portion of the accumulated NPS fund at retirement and instead transfers 100 percent to annuity scheme, then their pension would be more than 50 percent of his last drawn pay, reports added.
The government has still not given a specific date for notification of the new decisions, but according to reports the changes may come into effect from April 1, 2019.
December 10, 2018
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday announced that employees would be able to withdraw up to 60 percent of their pension fund tax-free. This is a hike from the current limit of 40 percent. Following the new changes, withdrawals made by employees at retirement will be tax-free. The Cabinet also raised government contribution in the NPS for Central Government employees to 14 percent from the current 10 percent.
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