As your body clock strikes 60, a brand new phase of your life begins.
The monotony of work and the paucity of time completely vanish. Instead, what you are left with is a better understanding and a greater experience of how the world truly functions. In order to adapt to these changing realities, keeping yourself fit and agile and financially independent is highly essential.
The good news is that the Indian Government can help you throughout this extremely crucial stage. It has designed multiple strategies to provide you with a huge variety of benefits that can make your life much easier and simpler.
Here are a few perks and privileges that you can avail once you cross the threshold of middle-age and step into the cherished category of senior citizenship:
For the purpose of filing income tax returns, the IT department classifies elderly people into two categories:
-Above 60 - Senior Citizens
- Above 80 - Very Senior Citizens
In case of senior citizens, an income up to Rs. 3,00,000 is tax exempt. Anything above this amount would be taxed at standard rates, i.e., Rs. 3-5 lakh - 10%, Rs. 5-10 lakh - 20%, and Rs. 10 lakh and above - 30%. However, in case of very senior citizens, the exemption limit has been relaxed further. They don't have to pay any tax for an income up to Rs. 5,00,000.
For the benefit of senior citizens, the government has initiated a number of social programs and welfare schemes under various central and state ministries. These include:
- Inegrated program for older persons: To improve the quality of life of the elderly by providing basic amenities like food, shelter, medical care, etc.
- Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana: To provide assistive devices to those who suffer from disabilities like low vision, hearing loss, loco-motor infirmities.
- National Old Age Pension Scheme: This scheme has been formulated to extend monetary assistance to those seniors who are living in poverty.
- Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana: Designed to provide social assistance to senior citizens by paying a minimum pension of Rs. 1000 per month.
For senior citizens, the option to travel and explore everything that they might have missed out on so far has become entirely effortless. This is because:
- The Indian Railways provides a 40% rebate to senior citizens (men) and a 50% rebate to senior citizens (women) on buying a ticket of any class. This rebate is applicable on all trains without exception.
- When it comes to international travel, the passport issuance process has been made seamless. Senior citizens do not need to apply online. They can just walk into any Seva Kendra and apply for passports.
A multitude of health-based benefits has been introduced by the government to help senior citizens lead a fulfilling life. These are:
- Under section 80 (D) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, the premium an aged citizen pays for health insurance is eligible for tax deduction. An exemption amounting up to Rs. 60,000 can be availed.
- The 'National Program For Health Care Of Elderly' has been launched. It aims to provide dedicated health care facilities at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.
- Senior citizens are also given preferential treatment in government hospitals wherein their requirements are handled on a priority basis.
Most banking institutions offer a specific set of advantages to help senior citizens manage their expenses better. These involve:
- If you maintain a pension account in a bank, you become eligible to avail loans amounting up to 50 times your total monthly pension subject to a maximum limit of Rs. 75,00,000. The processing fee is low, the loan tenure is high, and the repayment periods are extended for as long as 15 years.
- Fixed deposits for senior citizens usually come with an additional rate of interest. Approximately 0.5%-1% of extra interest is paid out to people above the age of 60. You are also given the freedom to either avail the interest income monthly or receive it as a lump sum amount at the end of your deposit tenure.
Apart from the aforementioned, senior citizens are entitled to a plethora of other government benefits which include:
- Senior Citizen Savings Scheme: You can register for this scheme at a bank or a post office. The scheme runs for 5 years with a possible extension period of 3 years. The interest remains fixed throughout the scheme's tenure. Currently, it has been set at an attractive 8.6%. Moreover, tax benefits under section 80 (C) are also available for this scheme.
- Life Pension Certificate: Instead of producing a physical life certificate every year, senior citizens can now simply register themselves on the Jeevan Pramaan website and claim unhindered pension benefits.
- Miscellaneous: Senior citizens can opt for subsidised telephone bills, 25% concession on phone installation, preferential hearing of court cases, and separate queues at government outlets.
Even as the twilight zone of life approaches, these benefits would help you manage your finances better. After all, everything you spend at this juncture has been earned through a lifetime of hard work. So, give yourself another chance and live life anew.