A senior citizen in India is a person who is 60 years of age or above. This is the official age of retirement and many terms it as the start of old age. Attaining senior citizenship and retirement is a turning point in a person’s life. It is truly a milestone achieved after decades of devoted labor and hard work. This the time when elderlies should relax, spend time with family, do things they love and enjoy life. Also, it is the time when they must take care of themselves and pay close attention to their needs and health.
The good news is even the Government of India supports this thought and attempts to make a life for senior citizens easier and simpler with some benefits in various areas of life. The rights of older persons and related entitlements are preserved and protected by Elder Law in India. There are several senior citizen benefits from the government that a sixty plus can avail. These benefits are exclusively for the elderlies and can be divided into several categories.
Here is a list of best benefits for senior citizens of India.
1. Benefits on Tax Payment:
Among many other benefits for the elderly, this one is the best. It is a sort of financial help for seniors by the government. When compared to other people, tax laws for senior citizens are relaxed and try to ease out the financial burden. Income of Rs. 3 Lakhs is exempted from tax payment. Income from Rs. 3 -5 lakhs are liable at 5% tax rate. Meanwhile, anyone earning between Rs. 5-10 lakhs are liable for 20% tax rate on income. Income above Rs. 10 Lakhs must pay tax at a 30% rate. This rate is relatively lower than general tax rates.
For super citizens, anyone above the age of 80 years, tax rate dips further and income up to Rs. 5 lakhs are exempted from tax payment. More senior citizen discounts are available in the form of advantages under section 80D and 80DB. Senior citizens can avail tax deduction up to Rs. 30,000 on health insurance premium and up to 60, 000 for a person suffering from critical illness. This limit is higher for super senior citizens.
Financial Help for Seniors: Furthermore, the government tries to help senior citizens through various programs. One of the most popular and reliable ones is Senior Citizen’s Saving Scheme that can be availed by all the seniors at the interest of 8.6% per annum. This scheme provides the highest post-tax returns when compared to other fixed income taxable products Additionally, most of the banks offer an extra 0.5% interest rate on Fixed Deposits.
2. Health Benefits:
Despite some tax relaxation, there are a few more senior citizens Health care benefits offered by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. In every hospital and health clinic, a separate queue for elderlies is a mandate. Many government and private hospital provide special senior citizen discounts to older people.
The government has opened special clinics exclusively for elderly persons at a fixed timing in various hospitals in New Delhi. These clinics provide health check-ups, treatment, operations and more.
3. Travel Benefits:
Well, after all the years of employment and fulfilling responsibilities, this is the chance to explore the world. It seems the government also thinks so. Many elderlies may not be aware of the senior citizen discount on travel fare.
Railways: The ministry has ordered 30% concession in all classes of trains for both male and female above the age 60 years. Buying a ticket has been made hassle-free with separate counters for seniors to book and cancel the tickets. Wheelchairs and wheelchair ramps at the stations and special coaches that can accommodate wheelchairs in trains are some other forms of government assistance for seniors.
Air Fares: For seniors traveling through airplanes, they are recommended to take advantage of senior citizen discount offered by Air India. The government-owned airline offers 55% discount on flights to USA, UK and Europe and 50% on domestic travel in economy class. To avail discount in domestic flights, the person will have to fill a form and provide age proof certificate and two passport size photos. Besides Air India, Jet Airways also provides discounted rates on air travel for senior citizens.
Road Travel: More government assistance for elderly includes concession in bus fares and benefits while traveling. Under the State Board Transport Undertakings, there are two seats in the front row of the buses compulsorily reserved for senior citizens. There are special bus models for the convenience of senior citizens that are expected to be launched soon. A bus pass for all routes is offered to the aged by DTC and other public transport operators at a minimal amount.
4. Senior Citizen Discount on Telephone Service:
Faults and complaints by senior citizens are given priority by government-owned telecommunication services. Also, they provide specially discounted tariffs for oldies.
Apart from above-mentioned senior citizen benefits, the government has launched some schemes providing exclusive benefits for the elderly of India.
Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana(VPBY): This is one of the best benefits for senior citizens. This scheme is implemented by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and it offers assured pension to all the senior citizens on a rate of return of 8% for 10 years. Maximum of 7.5 lakh can be invested in this scheme and the pension can be availed at the chosen period of time: monthly/quarterly/half-yearly or annual basis.
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY): This is financial help for seniors belonging to BPL category. It provides health insurance and coverage of Rs. 30,000 per annum per senior citizen.
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS): Under this scheme, the government provides financial assistance to poor households including aged.
Annapoorna Scheme: This scheme has been implemented by State and UT administration where 10 Kgs of food grains per senior citizen per month are distributed free of cost.
More Senior Citizen Benefits
The State Government has instructed that priority should be given to ration card holder seniors at the fair price shops. Moreover, acquiring a passport has been simplified by the government. Senior citizen benefits include issuance of a passport on post police verification basis if they attach a copy of the passport of their child (above 18) staying outside India. Among several other ways of government assistance for the elderly, one includes giving priority to court hearings involving senior citizens. Senior citizens are allowed to write to the court for priority hearing of their cases. Also, Bank branches must have separate queues and issues senior citizens cards for benefits exclusively provided to elderlies under various government schemes
Best benefits for senior citizens are made available by the government. However, elderlies must be extra cautious while dealing with unknown or private institutions. It’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully before availing it