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  • Senior Citizen Saving Scheme

    Overview about Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS)

    In every human society, the elders or the senior citizens are given the pride of place. These individuals have spent a lifetime working, creating life and chiseling paths in the roughest terrains for the ease of the generations that are to follow them. And, the collective society hasn’t forgotten these contributions- honoring its elders with many facilities and considerations that are tasked to make the lives of our older generation better. When it comes to saving schemes for senior citizens in India, the government has a wide collection of very attractive programs in store.

    About Senior Citizen Saving Scheme in India

    Designated for individuals above the age of 60, the Saving Schemes for senior citizens in India are effective, long term saving options and offer unmatched security and features that are usually associated with any government sponsored savings program. These schemes are available through certified banks as well as the network post offices spread across India. The typical Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS) account extends upto 5 years and upon maturity can be subsequently extended for an additional 3 years. The depositor is allowed to make one deposit into this account, an amount that is a multiple of Rs.1,000 and not extend beyond Rs.15 lakhs. SCSS accounts are robust, safe, highly targeted and a long term savings prospect. After spending a lifetime supporting others and running in the mad rat race of life, the various senior citizen saving schemes in India offer the aged folk a medium of effective savings for their twilight years.

    Benefits of Senior Citizen Saving Schemes

    As a savings and investment product for the 60+ year olds, the Senior Citizen Saving Scheme is a heaven-sent. Boasting of one of the best interest rates for any government sponsored investment product in India, the senior citizen saving scheme is customized to suit the specific requirements of an investment minded senior citizen. The salient features and benefits of this option are as follows-

    1. Easily Available- Fill up a simple application form at your local bank or post office and you are set.
    2. Reliability- This is a Government of India sponsored investment product and comes with all the security and assurance associated with that tag.
    3. Multiple Accounts- A single applicant can open multiple SCSS accounts, either individually or with a joint investor (must be the spouse of the primary investor).
    4. High Returns- At 8.6% per annum, the returns on your SCSS accounts are very impressive.
    5. Flexible Tenure- The account has a tenure of 5 years but can be stretched to add another 3 years. Thus, your senior citizen saving scheme serves as either a medium range investment or a long term plan.
    6. Save Tax- As per the dictates of Section 80C, Income Tax Act, 1961, the TDS can be saved.
    7. Choose Your Investment- Only one investment is allowed per SCSS account. This amount must be a multiple of Rs.1000 and not exceed Rs.15 lakhs. Thus, the SCSS investment is immensely affordable and scalable.
    8. Premature Termination- In extreme financial duress, your SCSS account can be closed and the money accessed. While this option only applies after the account has existed for a minimum of one year, it still is a ready source of funds that can be called to help at a moment’s notice. However, after 1 year, a penalty of 1.5% of the funds in the SCSS account will be deducted while the same is 1% after the completion of 2 years.
    9. Minimum Documentation- KYC documents that prove your age. The documents that can be submitted to substantiate this are- Passport/ Birth Certificate/ Voter’s ID/ Senior Citizen Card/ PAN, etc.

    Eligibility for Senior Citizens Saving Schemes in India

    In order to qualify for the saving schemes for senior citizens in India, said applicant must be-

    1. Aged 60 years or above.
    2. Must be aged 55 years or above, but less than 60 years, provided he/she has retired from his/her employment as per VRS/superannuation and must open said SCSS account within one month of the receipt of retirement benefits. Also, the invested amount must not exceed the amount of the retirement benefits.
    3. In case of a joint account, the eligibility is decided per the aforementioned age requirements of the primary depositor. There is no age restrictions/requirements imposed on the second applicant.

    Senior Citizen Saving Schemes Interest Rates

    A lucrative, savings oriented investment option, the senior citizen saving schemes interest rate is set at 8.6% per annum (FY 2016-2017). Instead of parking their savings in the low yield savings bank accounts or risky propositions like mutual funds, the senior citizen saving schemes offer the Indian senior population the option to invest in a safe, high yielding and popular savings portfolio.

    Senior Citizen Saving Scheme Rules

    A structured approach is crucial for success and peace of mind. When looking to enrol with the senior citizen saving scheme, ensure that you are well aware of the following conditions-

    1. You must be 60 years or above to enrol. In certain conditions, individuals in the age group of 55 years and above can also apply successfully.
    2. Only one deposit is permitted per SCSS account. The deposit must be in multiples of Rs.1,000 with a maximum permissible investment of Rs.15 lakhs.
    3. Interest on the money accumulated in the SCSS account is payable on 31st March/30th September/31st December in the first instance and thereafter interest is payable as of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December of each year.
    4. Maximum tenure of this saving scheme is 5 years. However, after maturity, the tenure can be extended for a further 3 years, pending the application for the same in the designated format.
    5. An applicant can operate multiple accounts simultaneously, individually or with a joint account holder who is the spouse. However, the account holder must ensure that all requirements pertaining to the validity and operation of these accounts must be met, including maintaining the minimum balance.
    6. It must be noted that cash is an acceptable medium of investment if the initial amount is less that Rs.1 lakh. If this amount is larger than Rs.1 lakh then a cheque must be used.
    7. Account can be easily and quickly transferred from one bank/post office onto another.
    8. SCSS provides nomination facility that can be availed at the time of opening the account or after said account has been in operation for a set duration of time.
    9. If the depositor chooses to terminate the account prematurely then the following penalty applies- 1.5% of deposit amount after one year and 1% of the deposit amount after two years. Kindly note that premature closure of the senior citizen saving scheme account is only possible after the account has been in operation for a minimum of one year.
    10. In case of joint accounts, the primary account holder is deemed the investor while the second stakeholder must be the primary account holder’s spouse.
    11. Tax is deducted at source if the accumulated interest on the invested amount exceeds Rs.10,000 per annum.
    12. Accumulated interest is deposited onto a designated savings account, maintained at the bank/post office, wherein the senior citizen saving scheme is maintained. These deposits are actioned through the auto credit facility via money orders or PDCs.
    13. Investments in the SCSS account saves tax as per the provisions laid out in Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

    In summary, the standard SCSS is a feature rich offering that helps you save for the medium to long haul while avoiding the common concerns arising from similarly placed products that are actively promoted by non-governmental organizations. It’s your life and future- safety and reliability are definitely top priority.

    Senior Citizen Saving Schemes Calculator

    Often, the dimensions of your senior citizen saving scheme- the tenure, invested amount and the necessary paperwork & upkeep- will show you the larger picture while putting the bottom line (ie, the accumulated interest amount) in the background. Enter the senior citizen saving scheme calculator, a handy tool that helps you briskly calculate and be completely privy to what your SCSS account is doing for you.

    Remember, the government of India updates the interest rate on its Senior Citizen Saving Scheme on an annual basis but the same is calculated and paid out every quarter. As mentioned before, interest is payable as of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December of each year. Thus, the task of the senior citizen saving scheme interest calculator includes the calculation of the applicable quarterly interest rate. Let us further illustrate this aspect-

    • Applicable interest rate on SCSS deposit= 8.6% per annum
    • Applicable interest rate per quarter= 8.6%/4 quarters = 2.175%
    • ie, interest accumulated for every Rs.100 = Rs .2.175
    • ie, interest accumulated for every Rs.1 = (2.175/100)= 0.02175

    Hence, for every Rs.1 invested as part of the senior citizen saving scheme in India, Rs. 0.02175 will be paid out as applicable interest after every 3 months. By simply multiplying this rate with the invested amount, the applicable interest rate for that quarter can be ascertained.

    A simpler iteration of the above formulae is as follows- Pr/400 wherein, P= principal amount, r= interest rate per annum.

    Tax Benefits of Senior Citizen Saving Schemes

    Most of us save monies in strategic investment portfolio or other simpler instruments while adhering to two set targets- a) Savings for the rainy days in the future, and b) To save on income tax that must be paid annually and attracts an almost legendary vile reaction from anybody who is gainfully employed and is obligated to pay his/her taxes. However, the following are the ground realities when it comes to Senior Citizen Saving Schemes in India and the associated tax implications-

    1. If the investment churns out an interest amount in excess of Rs.10,000 per year, then Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) applies. However, interest that amounts to less than this number is free from tax.
    2. All investments made per the SCSS account saves tax in accordance with the provisions laid out in Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

    Hence, aside from being a secure, scalable option with high returns, the senior citizen saving scheme is also a potent tax saver. All the elements are in alignment when it comes to your SCSS account and the prospect of tax savings.

    Senior Citizen Saving Schemes in Post Office

    The Indian postal system is an icon when it comes to staying connected with the grass root levels of the Indian society. No wonder, in this age of email and digital communication, the humble post box is still a strong contender in the Indian context, especially in the rural confines of this immense country. This is also the reason why the government of India actively employs the services of the Indian Postal system to propagate a plethora of its savings and investment themed programs. The Senior Citizen Saving Scheme (SCSS) is also offered at your local post office and just as in the case of the friendly National Savings Certificate (NSC) and National Savings Scheme (NSS), the SCSS has also managed to garner in a sizable fan following. Note that the interest amount generated by the SCSS account can be credited (using PDCs or money order) onto a savings account that is created in the same post office. Post offices are also a much preferred option especially amongst the non-urban folk as, they are deemed to be easily approachable, involves less influx of initial investments (service charges, account opening, etc.) and are more friendly in terms of the returns as a very limited number of people and systems are operational between this government scheme and its intended beneficiary.

    Senior Citizen Saving Schemes Offered by Different Banks

    Alongside post offices, the Senior Citizen Saving Scheme is also offered by select banking organizations across the country. In recent times, banking in India has seen a renaissance of sorts wherein the usage of the latest banking technology, modernization of pioneering public sector banks and the emergence of a number of super competitive private sector banking firms has spiced up the Indian banking scene. Thus, quite naturally, a vast number of people, mainly the urban and semi-urban population, have a 24x7 relationship with their respective banks that include a number of portfolios other than the basic savings account. Into this scene walks the Senior Citizen Saving Scheme that offers a wide range of senior citizen friendly savings/investment options. Its quite easy for said citizens to open a SCSS account with their favorite bank rather than the nearest post office. A mere extension as compared to a whole new relationship.

    As of 2004, 24 public sector and one private sector bank are authorized to offer the SCSS option. The following is the comprehensive list of said banks-

    Public Sector Banks,

    1. Allahabad Bank
    2. Andhra bank
    3. State Bank of India
    4. State Bank of Mysore
    5. State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur
    6. State Bank of Patiala
    7. State Bank of Travancore
    8. State Bank of Hyderabad
    9. Bank of Maharashtra
    10. Bank of Baroda
    11. Bank of India
    12. Corporation Bank
    13. Canara Bank
    14. Central Bank of India
    15. Dena Bank
    16. Syndicate Bank
    17. UCO Bank
    18. Union Bank of India
    19. Vijaya Bank
    20. IDBI Bank
    21. Indian Bank
    22. Indian Overseas Bank
    23. Punjab National Bank
    24. United Bank of India

    Private Sector Bank- ICICI Bank Ltd.

    FAQs about Senior Citizen Saving Schemes

    1. Why must I choose to open my SCSS account in a bank rather than a post office? Which is better?

      The Senior Citizen Saving Scheme is an Indian government sponsored program that is administered to the general public through two mediums- a list of certified banks and the offices belonging to the Indian Postal Department. The latter are just the medium and do not possess any control over the terms, rules and regulation of the actual SCSS product. Thus, it will be wrong to put one medium over the next.

      However, owing to the rapid advancement of online and digital technology in the banking sector, a number of features are now available that make banking simple and the management of investments, a child’s play. These features will help you manage your SCSS account better, though the difference as compared to the post office hosted SCSS account may not be much. The following features are the highlights-

        • Facility of direct credit of accumulated interest into the depositor’s savings bank account. In the case of the post office, such a savings account must first be created.
        • Regular account statements are forwarded to the depositor via post and/or email.
        • Higher grade of customer service through phone banking facility.
    2. What documents must be submitted when opening up a senior citizen saving scheme account?

      Essentially, the documents that help the bank ascertain your age are required when opening up the SCSS account. These include, Passport/ Birth Certificate/ Voter’s ID/ Senior Citizen Card/ PAN, etc.

    3. What will happen to my account if I were to pass away?

      If you have opened an individual account (without any joint investor) and unfortunately, you were to pass away unexpectedly, the SCSS account will be primed up for closure. To affect such a termination, the account holder’s nominee must forward an application in Form ‘F’. The Annexures II & III of such a form must be attested by a public notary or the Oath Commissioner.

    4. I keep hearing the term ‘retirement benefits’, what does this mean exactly?

      When speaking of the eligibility for the Senior Citizen Saving Scheme, people belonging to the age group of 55 years- 60 years can apply, provided that they must open this account within one month of receipt of ‘retirement benefits’. Also, the invested amount must not exceed the net value of the ‘retirement benefits’.

      What then is ‘retirement benefits’? In the context of the rules governing the SCSS accounts, retirement benefits are defined as any payment that is credited to the depositor post his/her retirement (on superannuation or otherwise) and includes such monetary components as PF dues, gratuity, encashment of unused leaves, earnings from Group Savings linked Insurance scheme, payments per the voluntary retirement scheme, etc. When applying for a SCSS account, the applicant must disclose such benefits in line with the regulations that govern the operation of such SCSS accounts.

    5. Can I cancel or change my nomination?

      When applying for the SCSS account, you are free to propose a nominee. This activity can also be completed after your account has been in existence for a specified duration of time. Alternatively, the nomination made by you can easily be cancelled or edited by submitting a fresh nomination in Form-C to the bank/post office wherein said SCSS account is being maintained.

    6. My wife is just 45 years old, can I appoint her as partner in a joint account?

      Since you already have an SCSS account, you are free to appoint your spouse as the joint account holder. Its your age that is the qualifying factor here and not your wife’s. Thus, her age doesn’t affect her eligibility to act as your joint partner in the account. However, the converse of this isn’t possible as your wife is just 45 years old and the minimum age to be eligible to own a SCSS account is 60 years.

    Important SCSS Related Reads

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