If you are a salaried employee with years of service in your bag or somebody who worked as one in the past, here is a question for you: have you claimed Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) money from your previous employers? In answering this there is a good chance you would suddenly remember that you forgot about that EPF account with your first employer or with the one you worked only for a few months.
Don’t delay now
Here are two facts that you should know. First, your EPF account earns a tax-free and risk-free rate of interest that is also capable of giving you real returns — inflation-adjusted returns. And the fact that both you and your employer contributed to the EPF account, the money compounded over so many years means even a small corpus invested years ago would have become a sizeable kitty by now.
The second fact, in order to discourage people from leaving inoperative accounts, in which contributions aren’t made anymore, Employees Provident Fund Office (EPFO) with effect from FY12 decided to stop paying interest on inoperative accounts that were more than three years old.
Fill up the withdrawal form — Form 19. You can download this at www.epfindia.org.in and submit it with the previous employer. Even if you don’t remember your EPF account number, your ex-employer will be able to help. But what happens in cases wherein the previous employer has shut shop?
Or the exit was unceremonious enough that you don’t want to interact with the employer again? There is a way out. Fill up Form 19 and get it attested from the branch manager of your bank. “Since we recognise employees through employers, in the absence of the employer we would need someone to verify the identity of the claimant. Once the banks attests the identity we will have details such as father’s name and date of birth to further authenticate the identity,” said KK Jalan, central provident fund commissioner, EPFO.
Submit the form with the regional provident fund manager in which the employer maintains or maintained the account. If you have the account number then it’s easy to identify the regional fund manager. Log on to the EPF website and run an establishment search.
Mint Money, however, recommends you transfer that money to your current EPF account. That way you can build a decent retirement corpus to address your pension needs. To make the process of EPF transfer smoother, EPFO launched its online transfer claim portal on October 2 (see graphic). What online transfer will also bring is timely transfer. You need to remember that you may submit the transfer form with the employer, but your employer may not forward the form to the EPF office, but with the online process EPFO will know the form has been submitted with the employer for attestation.
In case the employers have not registered their digital signatures (required for online process), you can still transfer the money offline. Fill up the transfer claim form and submit with your current employer. Your employer’s regional provident fund office will get in touch with the provident fund office of your previous employer to initiate the transfer.