Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced her maiden budget on July 5, 2019 and the first of the Modi Government in its second term. While the salaried class are still being taxed as usual, the people who have benefitted most are older adults.
Last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had mentioned that you caring for those who cared for us is the “highest honour”. Keeping with the tradition, the current Finance Minister has also offered a variety of benefits for senior citizens.
Here are some highlights to note:
1. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan: The Central Government has launched this pension scheme this year. This is for the workers in the unorganized sector like construction workers. Under this scheme, these workers will get a pension of Rs. 3000 per month after 60 years of age. With a small contribution of Rs. 100 per month, these workers can avail the pension benefit.
2. Tax exemption: A huge relief for senior citizens in the form of tax exemption has been granted. The tax exemption limit on the income from interest in bank savings has been raised from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000. This includes the interest income from fixed deposits and recurring deposits. No tax will be deducted at source (TDS) on such income. As most of the elderly depend on these savings after retirement, this waiver will benefit them hugely.
3. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana: LIC of India has a scheme in place since 2017 for older adults. Under this scheme, a pensioner will be able to avail of monetary benefits after retirement. After death, the remaining amount is paid to the family. The amount for this scheme has been raised from 7.5 lakhs to 15 lakhs.
4. Health Insurance Premium: Another beneficial move for senior citizens this year is the deduction on health insurance premium has been raised to Rs. 50,000 from Rs. 30,000 that was existing. In addition, the deduction of medical expenses for certain critical illnesses has been raised to Rs 1 lakh for all senior citizens. As medical expenses tend to be very high, such high deductions will encourage older adults to take care of their health and manage medical bills.
5. Higher Fund Allotment to the Ayushman Bharat Scheme: Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) was launched in 2018 under the Ayushman Bharat Mission of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India. This scheme was to create care systems to address healthcare.
Under this scheme, a family is eligible for healthcare coverage of up to Rs. 5 lakhs. This year, the finance minister allotted a total of Rs. 62.659.12 crore for the health sector, the highest in the last two fiscal years. Of this, Rs. 6,400 crore is set aside for AB-PMJAY. Rs. 249.96 crores are allotted for setting up Wellness Centres under the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) scheme, while Rs. 1,349.97 crores have been allotted to set up Wellness Centres under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scheme. By 2022, nearly 1.5 lakh primary health centers will be converted into health and wellness centers, equipped to treat diseases like blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other age-related illnesses.
This is a great budget from an older adult’s point of view. It gives senior citizens great incentives. One main cause of concern in the elderly is ill health and the resulting medical bills. In a country like India, where insurances are rare, this budget will bring along a wave of hope among older adults.
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