National Pension Scheme: Ultimate Guide For Better Retirement Planning

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Jan 16, 2024
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    Planning for a carefree retirement requires thorough preparation and judicious investment decisions. In the realm of retirement planning, the National Pension Scheme (NPS) emerges as a unique investment plan ensuring a consistent income through annuity during one's senior years. 

    With its hybrid market- and non-market-linked returns and tax benefits, this voluntary retirement savings account facilitates the creation of a substantial corpus.

    Understanding The National Pension Scheme (NPS)

    The National Pension Scheme, a social security program established by the Government of India, is accessible to public, commercial, and unorganised workers (excluding armed services members). It encourages participants to make lump sum or periodic contributions to a pension fund during their employment. 

    Upon retirement, NPS account holders receive 60% of the invested amount and accrued interest as a lump sum, and the remaining 40% is to be reinvested in any annuity plan. Under the new NPS guidelines, subscribers can withdraw the complete corpus if it is less than or equal to INR 5 lacs without the obligation to purchase an annuity plan.

    Different Types Of National Pension Scheme Accounts

    The NPS offers two distinct account types:

    Tier I NPS Account:

    • Contributions to this retirement account remain locked until you reach the age of 60. However, numerous tax advantages accompany this restriction. 
    • Partial withdrawals may be feasible under specific circumstances like completing three years of service, grappling with a catastrophic illness, or addressing financial needs such as funding your children's education, wedding expenses, or home repairs. 
    • Moreover, you can withdraw up to half of the corpus after completing 25 years of service.
    • Upon initiating an NPS account, you become eligible for tax benefits under Section 80CCD (1), Section 80CCD (1B), and Section 80CCD (2).

    Tier II NPS Account:

    • A Tier I account is a prerequisite to open this optional account. The second application form is required to initiate a Tier II account.
    • There are no time constraints on withdrawals, distinguishing it from the Tier I account. Each instalment must be a minimum of INR 250, with no mandatory minimum balance. 
    • It is essential to note that the NPS Tier II account does not provide any tax benefits for investments, and returns are subject to taxation.
    • The Tier II account does not enforce a lock-in period, offering the flexibility of distinct scheme preferences and nominations. Tier II accounts are beneficial in emergencies due to their liquidity, enabling unlimited withdrawals.

    NPS Investment Options

    Within the NPS, multiple pension fund managers (PFMs), investment options (Auto or Active), and four distinct asset classes exist—Equity (Scheme E), Corporate Debt (Scheme C), Government Bonds (Scheme G), and Alternative Investment Funds. The initial step involves the subscriber choosing a PFM and opting for one of the available investment options.

    Features Of The National Pension Scheme

    The NPS subscribers receive a unique Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). Key features of NPS include:

    • Regulated: Overseen by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), ensuring transparent regulations and strict compliance.
    • Voluntary: Optional for all Indian citizens, providing flexibility in investment choices.
    • Customisability: Subscribers can choose or modify the Point of Presence (PoP), investment strategy, and fund manager for optimal returns based on preferences for different asset classes (such as equity, corporate bonds, government securities, and alternative investment assets).
    • Cost-effective: Considered a highly affordable investment option. The total cost to join NPS through PoP is INR 200-400 (negotiable). An additional INR 40 goes toward the account opening fee. Each transaction costs approximately INR 3.75, and the annual account maintenance cost ranges from INR 60 to INR 95, both charges recovered through unit deductions. 
    • Portability: The NPS account or PRAN remains unchanged regardless of work, city, or state changes.
    • Superannuation Fund Transfer: A superannuation fund, often known as a company pension plan, is a type of pension program businesses establish for their workers. Many businesses take out superannuation policies from insurance providers on behalf of their employees. NPS account members can transfer their Superannuation funds to their NPS account without incurring any tax consequences (subject to authorisation from the appropriate governing bodies).
    • Tax Advantages: Provides tax benefits for both employed and self-employed individuals.

    Who Should Invest In The National Pension Scheme?

    You can invest in the NPS if you are:

    1. A private-sector employee with no other pension backup plan.
    2. Seeking a sustainable post-retirement life.
    3. Prefer low-risk, moderate returns.
    4. Aim to maximise 80C deductions (Up to INR 2 lacs/ year). 

    Considering NPS benefits, there was a 23% year-on-year increase in subscribers, reaching 6.24 crore as of March 4, 2023, from 5.08 crore in March 2022. 

    Historic Returns Of NPS

    Given below are the details of NPS's historic scheme-wise returns as of 5th January 2024:

    Scheme E Returns Of NPS
    Scheme C Returns Of NPS
    Scheme G Returns Of NPS


    In conclusion, the National Pension Scheme is a thoughtful choice for a robust foundation for your retirement. Empower yourself by understanding its features, benefits, and options. It is crucial to carry out periodic pension scheme analysis to maximise the benefits from NPS investments. Stay updated on investing opportunities by following Grip Invest for the latest news and updates.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. How many fund managers are there in NPS?

    NPS currently has ten fund managers, namely:

    • LIC Pension Fund
    • SBI Pension Fund
    • UTI Retirement Solutions
    • ICICI Prudential Pension Fund Management Company 
    • Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund 
    • Aditya Birla Sunlife Pension Management 
    • Tata Pension Management Private
    • Max Life Pension Fund Management
    • Axis Pension Fund Management and 
    • HDFC Pension Management Company

    2. Can I continue NPS after 60 years?

    Yes, contributors can maintain their NPS account even after reaching 60. While annuity purchase is mandatory, individuals can keep their retirement savings invested until they turn 70.

    3. What is the best way to invest the lump sum amount received upon NPS maturity?

    You can invest the lump sum amount received upon NPS maturity in fixed-income opportunities from Grip Invest for a steady income stream. These plans suit conservative investors, as they prioritise capital preservation and reliable income generation.

    4. What is an annuity deposit scheme?

    An annuity deposit scheme is a financial product that ensures guaranteed regular payments for the entirety of your life, following a lump sum investment.

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