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Pension/Retirement Plans in India

Life Insurance
  • Premiums as low as Rs.17/day for sum assured of Rs.1 crore*
  • Claim up to Rs. 1,50,000 deduction under section 80C**
  • Choose between annual and monthly premium payment options

What is an Annuity/Pension Plan?

Retirement is a phase of life most of us look forward to, working for a good number of years in order to rest and relax when we retire. While this period is meant to be one without tension, financial issues could dampen this time. Lack of adequate planning could see one working even after retirement to make ends meet.

This is where an Annuity/Pension plan comes into play. Just like a traditional life insurance policy provides financial support to the family of an insured after his/her demise, a pension plan provides the insured a regular source of income even after retirement. In essence, it is a plan which covers the risk of losing your income post retirement, compensating for any drop in earnings by providing annuity.

It is ideal for individuals looking to supplement their retirement corpus, wherein insurers offer plans which typically require a single premium to be paid upfront, with the policy providing returns after one retires. One can choose the age at which they wish to receive this amount, thereby having solace in the fact that the policy will cover their financial needs as long as they live.

The frequency of payments can be chosen according to the needs of an insured individual, with certain plans offering a gradual increase in the amount paid, doubling as an investment.

Best Pension Plans in India:

There are over 20 insurance companies which offer pension plans in India, with a number of options available. These plans cater to different requirements, ensuring that one finds a plan which meets their retirement goals. Listed below are the top 5 pension plans in India as of 2017.

Pension Plan About the plan Entry Age Vesting Age Policy Term Annual Premium Amount Sum Assured
LIC Jeevan Nidhi Plan A deferred annuity plan which provides additional bonus, it offers multiple pension options. Bonus is accrued after the 6th year, with the premium paid eligible for tax exemption under the Income Tax Act. Minimum: 20 years Maximum: 58 years (regular premium), 60 years (single premium) Minimum: 55 years Maximum: 65 years Minimum: 5 years Maximum: 35 years Minimum: Rs.10,000 for single premium, Rs.3,000 for regular premium Minimum: Rs.1 lakh (regular premium), Rs.1.5 lakh (single premium)
SBI Life Saral Pension Plan A plan which offers guaranteed bonus ranging between 2.50% and 2.75%, it also provides an option for life cover through riders. Minimum: 18 years Maximum: 60 years (regular premium), 65 years (single premium) Minimum: 40 years Maximum: 70 years Minimum: 5 years (single premium), 10 years (regular premium) Maximum: 40 years Minimum: Rs.7,500 Maximum: No upper limit Minimum: Rs.1 lakh Maximum: No upper limit
HDFC Life – Click2Retire Plan An online pension plan which secures the retirement of an individual through assured vesting benefit. Being a unit linked plan it invests in funds which meet certain growth requirements Minimum: 18 years Maximum: 65 years Minimum: 45 years Maximum: 75 years Minimum: 10 years Maximum: 35 years Minimum: Rs.24,000 Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium
LIC Jeevan Akshay VI Plan An immediate annuity plan which provides pension immediately after paying the single premium. Minimum: 30 years Maximum: 85 years Pension is paid immediately, depending on the option chosen by the buyer NA Minimum: Rs.1 lakh Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium
ICICI Pru-Easy Retirement Plan A unit linked plan which provides an assured benefit to help meet financial requirements after retirement. Minimum: 35 years Maximum: 70 years Minimum: 45 years Maximum: 80 years Minimum: 10 years Maximum: 30 years Minimum: Rs.48,000 Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium
Reliance Smart Pension Plan This is a non-participating unit linked plan which offers a regular source of income after an individual retires. NA Minimum: 45 years Maximum: 75 years Minimum: 10 years Maximum: 30 years NA Based on premium
Bajaj Allianz Pension Guarantee Plan This is a non-linked, non-participating plan which provides immediate annuity to individuals, with an option to choose between 6 payout modes. Minimum: Varies based on the payout mode chosen. Ranges from 0 years to 37 years. Maximum: 80 years Varies based on annuity option chosen Lifetime Minimum: Rs.25,000 Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium
Max Life Guaranteed Lifetime Income Plan This is a non-linked, non-participating plan which offers a lifetime pension to policyholders. Minimum: 50 years Maximum: 80 years NA Lifetime NA Based on premium
Birla Sun Life Empower Pension Plan This is a unit linked non-participating plan which offers a death benefit in addition to annuity. Minimum: 25 years Maximum: 70 years Maximum: 80 years Minimum: 5 years Maximum: 30 years Minimum: Rs.18,000 Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium
HDFC Life Assured Pension Plan This is a unit linked plan which is suited to those looking at an investment cum protection plan. Minimum: 18 years Maximum: 65 years Minimum: 45 years Maximum: 75 years Minimum: 10 years Maximum: 35 years Minimum: Rs.24,000 Maximum: No upper limit Based on premium

Types of Pension Plans in India:

Insurance companies offer a range of pension plans in India, and while each is unique in itself, one can classify pension plans into these 7 broad categories:

  1. Immediate Annuity Plans– These are plans which provide immediate pension payouts, with no waiting period to receive the pension. Most plans under this category require the premium to be paid as a single lumpsum amount, with the option to choose the time from which the annuity payout begins. Example: LIC Jeevan Akshay VI.
  2. Deferred Annuity Plans – These are plans wherein the policyholder receives a pension after a specified period of time. He/she is expected to pay premiums for the policy term, with the payment beginning once the premiums are paid. One can also choose to make a single premium payment. One can choose the frequency of annuity payout, with insurers providing the option to pay it monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or yearly. Example: LIC Jeevan Nidhi Plan.
  3. Life Annuity Plans – These plans pay pension to the insured individual until his/her death, thereby ensuring that one has a regular source of income throughout his/her life. One can also choose to include their spouse under the plan, in which case the spouse continues to receive the pension after the policyholder passes away. Example: SBI Life Annuity Plus.
  4. Guaranteed Period Annuity Plans – These are plans akin to life annuity plans, with the only difference being that they pay assured pension for a specific period of time, even if the policyholder passes away before this period.
  5. Traditional Pension Plans – These are plans which invest the premium in safe options like government securities. These are generally risk-free, but offer lower returns. Example: SBI Life Saral Pension.
  6. Unit Linked Pension Plans – These are plans which invest in market units such as stocks, securities, or bonds. They have a degree of risk associated with them but typically offer better returns. Example: HDFC Life Assured Pension Plan.
  7. With/Without Cover Pension Plans – A with cover pension plan provides life cover in addition to annuity. These plans offer a death benefit in the event of demise of policyholder. A without cover plan does not offer life insurance, providing just annuity. Most plans can be enhanced to include life cover by adding riders.

Why do I need a Pension Plan?

It is easy for one to overlook the fact that retirement brings with it financial strain. We work for a majority of our life hoping to lead a stress-free retired life, but lack of money could see one coming out of retirement to make ends meet. A good pension plan ensures that one is financially secure during retirement, with the plan providing a steady inflow of funds.

Old age is often associated with increased medical expenses, which can be a strain on financial resources, especially when one is retired. While those with a government job would receive regular pension, this might not be sufficient for the daily needs. A pension plan can enhance this income, ensuring that one doesn’t have to make changes in their lifestyle.

Additionally, pension plans can offer decent returns on investment, ensuring that inflation doesn’t reduce the value of one’s money. Certain pension plans also provide life cover, wherein the family of the insured is protected in the event of his/her demise.

The biggest factor which warrants the need of a pension plan is the peace of mind which it provides, ensuring that we can have a peaceful and fulfilling retired life without the strain of finances on our head.

Features of Pension Plans:

Some of the popular features of pension plans are highlighted below:

  • Annuity options – Most pension plans come with a range of annuity options. One can choose an option which best suits their retirement needs.
  • Early payouts – One can opt to receive the payout at an age of their choosing. Certain plans provide regular payouts from the age of 40 years, providing an option for early retirement.
  • Flexible payments – One can choose the frequency at which they receive their pension. Most policies offer the option to choose between annual, monthly, half-yearly, or quarterly payout.
  • High pension – One can choose the amount of pension they wish to receive. Most insurers do not have an upper limit on the sum assured, thereby enabling one to plan their retired life according to their lifestyle.
  • Additional security – One can opt for riders to enhance the protection offered by a basic annuity plan. These riders can be purchased at affordable rates and are ideal for those looking for additional benefits.
  • Rebates/Incentives – Most insurance companies offer rebates/incentives on premiums which exceed a certain limit. This helps in getting more pension at cheaper rates.
  • Financial independence – Retired individuals with a good pension plan need not depend on others to meet their financial requirements.
  • Protection for family – One can choose to enhance a plan by opting for life cover, wherein a death benefit will be paid to the nominee after the policyholder dies. Additionally, they can also choose to cover their spouse under a plan.

Benefits/Advantages of Annuity/Pension Plans:

Listed below are the benefits/advantages which pension plans provide:

  • Tax benefits – The premiums paid towards a pension plan are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80CC and Section 10(10A) of the Income Tax Act. These can help one save a considerable amount on tax each year.
  • Investment – Certain unit linked retirement plans provide one the opportunity to grow their money through strategic investments. These offer dual benefits of an investment plus insurance.
  • Assured benefits – A number of pension plans offer bonuses/assured benefits, helping one meet any additional financial obligations post-retirement.
  • Death benefit – One can supplement the basic pension plan by opting for a life cover wherein a death benefit will be provided to the nominee of the insured after his/her demise.
  • Regular income – Pension plans provide a regular source of income to policyholders, ensuring that they can lead a hassle-free retired life.

How to choose the right Pension Plan?

Choosing a good pension plan is critical to plan for retirement. Given the number of options available, one might get confused and opt for a plan which doesn’t conform to their needs. Listed below are a few simple points to consider before choosing a pension plan.

  • Know your requirements – It is important to compute the financial net one might need after retirement. Individuals with additional sources of income (rent, government pension, etc.) could opt for a plan which supplements this income. Individuals who will solely rely on the pension they receive through a pension plan must plan their needs down to last detail. Failure to do this could result in purchasing a plan which offers funds which are insufficient to meet basic requirements.
  • Basic pension or investment? – Choose whether you wish to just receive pension or whether the pension plan should double as an investment. There are numerous plans which invest in securities, bonds, stocks, etc. to offer higher returns.
  • Flexibility – Choose a plan which offers flexibility in terms of payments. Choosing a plan which offers yearly payouts without the option to change this could result in lack of money during emergencies.
  • Minimum assurance – Opt for a plan which offers a minimum assurance on the premium paid by you. This ensures that the money invested in a policy does not shrink after a specific period of time.
  • Premium – Choose a plan whose premium you can afford. Opting for a plan with a high premium could land you in trouble if you have an emergency and are unable to pay the amount on time.
  • Plan your retirement – Choose a plan which could offer you pension from the day you retire. There are certain plans which start payments only after a certain age is attained. These could pose a problem in case of early retirement.
  • Additional protection – Opt for a plan which provides additional protection to you and your family. The plan should have the option to be enhanced with a rider to cover the spouse.
  • Consult an expert – Individuals who have no idea about how pension plans work should consult an expert. One could also visit neutral websites to know the various benefits offered by a plan in order to understand it.
  • Compare – One should always compare plans from different insurers. This could help in getting a better deal, ensuring that they save money.

Eligibility criteria for Pension Plans:

Most pension plans do not have strict eligibility criteria, with insurance providers concentrating on three main aspects when it comes to pension plans:

  • Entry Age – One could purchase a pension plan after attaining a certain age. Certain insurers offer plans whose minimum entry age is as low as 18 years, while others ask for individuals to be over the age of 30 years in order to purchase them. Similarly, there is an upper limit on the entry age as well, with this being around 70 years in most cases.
  • Vesting age – This is the age at which one starts receiving pension. This could range from a minimum of 40 years onwards, depending on the conditions in place.
  • Premium – The pension one receives depends on the premium they pay. Most insurers have minimum premium requirements for the pension plans.

Pension Plan Riders:

It is possible to enhance the protection offered by a pension plan by choosing additional riders. Listed below are some of the popular riders which can be availed in the country.

  • Accidental death/disability rider – This rider provides an additional sum assured in the event of policyholder’s death due to an accident. It also provides financial support if the insured individual becomes disabled while the plan is in force.
  • Critical illness rider – This rider provides protection against critical illnesses. The number of illnesses covered by the rider depend on the company offering it. The insured will receive financial aid if he/she is diagnosed with a terminal illness while the policy is active.
  • Term rider – Opting for this rider ensures that the nominee receives a death benefit after the insured passes away. It essentially transforms a normal pension plan into a life insurance plus pension plan.
  • Waiver of premium rider – Under this rider, future premiums are waived if the insured meets with an event which leads to disability, resulting in loss of income. It is also valid if the insured is diagnosed with an illness post which premium payments are waived.

What are Participating and Non-Participating Pension Plans?

A participating pension plan is one in which the insured receives a bonus component in addition to the regular sum assured. This could be in the form of a reversionary bonus, which is at the discretion of the company. It is basically a plan which participates in the profits of the fund in which the money is invested. The insurance company has the discretion to supplement the sum assured with any bonus in these plans.

A non-participating pension plan is one which does not accrue any reversionary bonus, with all benefits clearly stated to the policyholder. It does not partake in any profits earned by the fund.

What is Public Provident Fund?

Public Provident Fund (PPF) is an initiative of the government of India which aims to inculcate the idea of savings in the country. It incentivises individuals to open an account by offering interest which is compounded annually. The current interest rate stands at 7.9% per annum.

A PPF account can be opened with an initial minimum deposit of Rs.100, with the maximum yearly deposit capped at Rs.1.5 lakh. Individuals who open this account need to deposit a minimum of Rs.500 each year, failing which a penalty will be charged.

A 15 year tenure makes it ideal for anyone looking for a retirement corpus after this period. One can also choose to extent it by 5 years. The key benefit of this account is that it provides tax benefits, with the interest earned being tax-free, in addition to tax saving on the investment.

One can choose to open this account either at post offices or authorised banks, with the option to transfer it between branches.

What is Employees Provident Fund and Employees’ Pension Scheme?

The Directive Principles of State Policy state that the government shall try its best to ensure that citizens of the country have means to meet basic requirements, including those arising out of old age. As such, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation was set up to monitor the Provident Fund Scheme and a Pension Scheme, in addition to an insurance scheme.

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) are designed to provide financial assistance to individuals during their retired life. They act as a savings tool, whereby employers and employees contribute a certain portion of their monthly income into a pool, with this investment earning interest.

EPF applies to any organisation which undertakes a task under Section 1 of the Employees’ Provident Fund Act, and employs over 20 people. Both the employer and employee make a contribution equivalent to 12% of the basic DA of an employee’s salary. This contribution is split into two components, with one going to the EPF pool and the other to the EPS.

Scheme Employee contribution Employer contribution
EPF 12% 3.67%
EPS NA 8.33%

As indicated in the table, both the funds now get a certain deposit each month. The only difference between both of them is the fact that while the EPF account earns an interest which is compounded annually, there is no provision for interest under EPS.

It is possible to withdraw the money under EPF if one is unemployed for a period of two months or more. One can also appoint a nominee who will receive the funds in the event of death of EPF accountholder.

What is PM Pension Scheme?

The Pradhan Mantri Atal Pension Yojana is a scheme designed to offer retirement solutions to individuals belonging to the unorganised sector. With a majority of the Indian population working in unorganised sectors, there was a need for a pension plan for them. Anyone between the age of 18 and 40 years can participate in this scheme, with them receiving a pension once they are 60 years old.

Individuals who joined the scheme before December 31, 2015 will be eligible for a government co-pay wherein the government will contribute an amount equivalent to half the contribution of the individual, subject to a maximum of Rs.1,000 per year for a period of five years.

A savings bank account should be opened by the individual looking to contribute towards this pension scheme. One will receive a pension ranging between Rs.1,000 and Rs.5,000 per month after retirement. The scheme provides a provision for a nominee, wherein he/she will receive the pension if the accountholder dies.

What is the National Pension System and what are its Benefits?

The National Pension System (NPS) was launched by the government in 2004 with a vision to provide a pension to all retired citizens of the country. Open to employees from both, the government sector and private sector, it invests the money in funds which are managed by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

One can choose between two account types, namely a Tier-1 account, which is designed to promote savings for retirement and a Tier-2 account. Individuals cannot withdraw any money from a Tier-1 account, ensuring that they have a corpus for retired life.

A Tier-2 account, on the other hand permits one to withdraw money from it. It is designed to promote voluntary savings.

The National Pension System offers a range of benefits to those looking for steady pension after retirement. Some of them are highlighted below:

  • One can choose the kind of account they want, with it providing the option of opening either a savings account or a retirement account.
  • Being a government initiative, it is transparent, with members given a daily update on their contribution. It also helps one track the money, giving them the chance to modify/increase contributions to meet any future requirement.
  • The entire process is simple, with each member provided a unique Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). Opening an account is easy, thanks to nodal offices present across the country.
  • The scheme is regulated by the PFRDA, ensuring that the money is not invested in risky ventures.
  • Even if a member were to move a job, he/she can continue using the same PRAN, ensuring that there are no cumbersome procedures to transfer the money from one account to another.
  • It provides tax benefits to individuals. Those with a Tier-1 account are eligible for tax deductions on their contributions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. Additionally, any appreciation of the contribution and any money used to purchase annuity is tax free.

Pension Plan FAQs:

  1. What is vesting age and vesting date?

    A. The age from which the pension is paid is called the vesting age. The vesting date is the date from which the pension starts. For example, a policy with a vesting age of 60 years will begin paying pension only after the individual turns 60 years old.

  2. What is annuity?

    A. Annuity is a defined amount of money paid to an individual at regular intervals of time, typically after he/she retires. An annuity plan is a contract between the insurer and the insured, wherein the insured makes payments to the insurer, with the insurer providing regular payouts after a specified period of time.

  3. Is it possible to purchase a pension plan online?

    A. Yes, most insurance companies provide the option to purchase a pension plan online. There are a few pension plans which can be purchased only online.

  4. Is it possible to increase the payout amount for my pension plan?

    A. Most pension plans do not provide the option to modify the payout amount after the plan has been purchased. An insurer can, however, make exceptions based on the rapport a customer shares with them. It is advisable to check this with the insurer before purchasing a policy.

  5. I wish to withdraw the amount in my pension fund before I retire. Is this possible?

    A. Most pension plans do not offer the liquidity to withdraw money before the vesting age. This could vary from plan to plan and one should check this with the insurer before buying it.

  6. Which is better – A government pension scheme or a pension plan by an insurer?

    A. Both schemes are designed with a specific purpose in mind. One should consider the purpose before choosing one. Government pension schemes are primarily targeted to those who have no other means of income after retirement. These are more affordable but have limitations on the amount one can receive. Pension insurance plans, however, provide one an opportunity to customise a plan based on their requirement.