The Union Cabinet has approved a plan to lower the age limit to be eligible for a pension plan for the poor citizens of our country. The Government has decided to Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) to 60 years from 65 years, increasing the number of people that are eligible to benefit from the programme. It is estimated that this move would benefit an additional 7.23 million people living below the so-called poverty line.
Further, the Cabinet has approved an increase of the pension for 80-year-olds and above to Rs. 500.(Presently it is Rs. 200). The enhanced pension will cover around 2.65 million people. Currently, about 16.9 million people benefit from the the pension plan. The additional funds required for the proposals are estimated at Rs. 2,770 crore.
Also, the eligibility criteria for widow pension under the Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and disability pension under the Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension scheme has been revised from 40-64 years to 40-59 years and from 18-64 years to 18-59 years, respectively.
The government has decided to extended medical facilities under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme), which provides protection to Below Poverty Line (BPL) people from health hazards that involve hospitalization, to workers in the beedi industry and their families. The annual premium is estimated at Rs.750 per annum of which 75% would be as Central share and the rest will be given by the state Governments.
All these decisions were taken in the Cabinet committee meeting during last week.