What is National Pension Scheme, Benefits, Eligibility and Returns

byDilip PrasadLast Updated: June 5, 2024

Planning for retirement can be overwhelming, but the National Pension Scheme (NPS) makes it easier. Launched by the Government of India, the NPS is a flexible and tax-friendly way to save for your future. It’s open to everyone and aims to ensure you have a secure and comfortable retirement. Whether you’re just starting your career or nearing retirement, the NPS offers a smart and reliable path to financial security.

What is the National Pension Scheme (NPS)?

The National Pension Scheme (NPS) is a voluntary retirement savings plan designed to provide long-term financial security. It encourages systematic savings during the working life of individuals by offering a low-cost, flexible, and portable investment option that can be tailored to individual needs. 

  • Launch Date: The NPS was launched on January 1, 2004, for government employees.
  • Purpose: The NPS aims to instill the habit of saving for retirement among citizens and reduce the financial dependency on the government for pensions.

Key Features of NPS

  • Voluntary Participation: The NPS allows individuals to decide how much they want to save and contribute.
  • Flexibility in Contributions: NPS contributions can be made monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the subscriber’s preference.
  • Portability: NPS accounts are portable, which means that subscribers can maintain the same account across jobs and locations without any hassle.
  • Choice of Investment Options: Subscribers can choose between Active Choice, where they manage their investments, and Auto Choice, where the funds are automatically allocated based on the subscriber’s age.
  • Regulated by PFRDA: The scheme is regulated by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), ensuring transparency and security of investments.

Who Can Join NPS?

  • Eligibility Criteria: The NPS is open to all Indian citizens aged between 18 and 65 years.
  • Government Employees: Central and state government employees.
  • Private Sector Employees: Employees from various private sector companies.
  • Self-Employed Individuals: Professionals and self-employed individuals.

Account Types in NPS

Tier I Account

  • Features: This is a mandatory account for all NPS subscribers and is primarily meant for retirement savings.
  • Benefits: Subscribers can enjoy national pension scheme tax benefits, and partial withdrawals are allowed for specific purposes such as higher education, marriage, and medical treatment.
  • Restrictions: Withdrawals from Tier I accounts are restricted until retirement.

Tier II Account

  • Features: This is a voluntary savings account offering greater flexibility for withdrawals.
  • Benefits: There is no lock-in period, and funds can be withdrawn freely.
  • Differences from Tier I: Unlike Tier I, Tier II accounts do not offer tax benefits under Section 80C.

How to Enroll in NPS

Step-by-Step Guide to Registration:

  1. Visit the official NPS website or a registered Point of Presence (PoP).

  2. Fill out the registration form with the required details.

  3. Submit KYC documents for verification.

  4. Receive a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN).

Online vs. Offline Enrollment Process

  • Online Enrollment: Through the eNPS portal, subscribers can complete their NPS contribution online using Aadhaar or PAN card for identity verification.
  • Offline Enrollment: By visiting registered PoPs, individuals can enroll and make contributions.

Contribution Guidelines

  • Tier I: Minimum ₹500 per contribution and ₹1,000 per year.
  • Tier II: Minimum ₹250 per contribution, with no annual minimum.
  • Frequency of Contributions: Subscribers can choose to contribute monthly, quarterly, or annually based on their financial convenience.
  • Employer Contributions: In the case of corporate NPS, employers can also contribute to their employees’ NPS accounts, enhancing the overall retirement corpus.

Benefits of NPS

  • Under Section 80C: Subscribers can claim tax deductions of up to ₹1.5 lakh.
  • Under Section 80CCD(1B): An additional deduction of ₹50,000 is available for NPS contributions.
  • Under Section 80CCD(2): Employer contributions up to 10% of the salary are tax-deductible.
  • Long-term Retirement Savings Growth: The NPS encourages long-term savings and investment growth, ensuring a substantial retirement corpus.
  • NPS Interest Rate: The returns on NPS investments are market-linked and have historically provided attractive returns compared to other fixed-income instruments.
  • Low-cost Structure: NPS has a cost-effective management fee structure, making it an affordable investment option.
  • Compounding Benefits: Regular contributions and compounding returns over time help in accumulating a significant retirement corpus.

Withdrawal and Exit Rules

Conditions for Partial Withdrawals: 

Subscribers can withdraw up to 25% of their contributions after three years for specific purposes such as higher education, marriage, home purchase, or medical treatment by submitting the NPS withdrawal form.

Exit Options at Retirement:

  • At Age 60: Subscribers can withdraw 60% of the corpus as a lump sum (tax-free), and the remaining 40% must be used to purchase an annuity.
  • Before Age 60: Subscribers can withdraw 20% of the corpus as a lump sum and must use the remaining 80% to purchase an annuity.
  • Annuity in NPS: An annuity is a financial product that provides regular payments to the subscriber post-retirement, ensuring a steady income stream.

Comparison with Other Retirement Schemes

The National Pension Scheme offers a flexible way to ensure a financially secure retirement. By understanding its features and benefits, you can make informed decisions and start building a stable future today. Whether you are looking to leverage the national pension scheme tax benefits or seeking a reliable retirement income through annuities, NPS is a comprehensive solution for your retirement.


What is NPS full form?

NPS stands for National Pension Scheme. The National Pension Scheme (NPS) is a voluntary retirement savings plan designed to provide long-term financial security.

What is the minimum NPS contribution required?

While there is no mandatory minimum contribution requirement per year, it is advisable to contribute at least Rs. 1000 annually to ensure a reasonable pension after retirement.

What are the national pension scheme tax benefits?

Tax benefits are available under Sections 80C, 80CCD(1), and 80CCD(1B), providing substantial tax savings.

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