THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fearing a backlash in the Lok Sabha polls, the state government has put on hold the procedures to weed out ineligible beneficiaries from the social security pension scheme. The government also rolled back the order to deny fresh pension applications from people living in houses with an area above 1,200 sq ft. Another decision to reduce the social security pension for people who also receive EPF pension has also been withdrawn.
As per the original plan, a household survey to assess the financial status of pensioners was to begin in January and completed in June. When contacted, the Finance Minister’s Office said all processes related to the pruning will start only mid-year.
The latest state Budget had raised the monthly pension amount for 44.27 lakh social security pensioners from `1,100 to `1,200. The pension is distributed in three quarters and the next disbursement will start on March 25. This would include the payment for the months of December 2018, January, February, March and April. The government had sanctioned `2,630.27 crore for the pension payment. Another `343.84 crore was sanctioned for 65 lakh beneficiaries of 18 welfare fund boards.
20 pc found ineligible
Earlier, a sample study by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation in three districts had found that 20 per cent of the social security pensioners were ineligible. Last year, 14,000 persons who were found ineligible were excluded from the list. This included names of over 12,000 dead persons. The social security pension is given under five categories - agricultural labourer, old age, disability, unmarried women above 50 years of age and widows.