While higher interest rates on fixed deposits is a known phenomenon, not many are aware of various discounts available to senior citizens.
There are many niggling financial worries for those who have retirement looming. This includes absence of regular income, coupled with increasing expenses like potential medical costs, children’s marriage etc and financial uncertainty. Finally, there is the burden of taxation. So, every bit saved is welcome relief for senior citizens in terms of managing their day-to-day expenses. The Government of India on their part is offering various discounts and schemes for the elderly to make sure that no unnecessary financial burden is placed on them.
Here is a look at some of the prominent discount schemes offered for senior citizens that help them save money while enjoying their sunset years.
Concession on rail travel
The Indian Railways are known as the lifeline of India, as its extensive network is used by large swathes of people daily. Travelling can be tiresome for senior citizens, but Indian Railways offer a financial concession along with travel convenience for the elderly travelers. Indian Railways provide 30% concession in all classes and trains for senior citizens above the age of 60 years.
To make sure that senior citizens do not have to stand a long time in queues, there is a dedicated ticket counter made available for them at all booking centers, apart from wheel chair assistance at all important stations.
Discount on airfare
Travelling by air has been made pocket friendly for senior citizens, with 50% concession in fares offered by the Air India to all travelers above the age of 60 years. What's more, travelling out of India is cheaper as well, with Air India offering discount to senior citizens (over 60 years) who fly to places like USA, UK and Europe to join their children working abroad.
Other private airlines are also following suit and are extending discounted fares for senior citizens. Jet Airways and its budget subsidiary Jetlite, for example, are offering up to 50% discount to senior citizens of 65 years or above on economy class travel.
Higher income tax exemption limit
Senior citizens above 60 years of age are exempted from paying any Income Tax in case if their total income does not exceed Rs. 3 Lakhs, while others have an exemption limit of 2 lakhs only. The Income Tax Rate for senior citizens of other income slabs is as follows:
For very senior citizens base exemption limit stands at Rs 5 lakh.
High interest on SCSS
There is a dedicated saving scheme known as the Senior Citizen Saving Scheme available to all individuals above the age of 60 years. Only those who are above 60 years of age, or 55 years if VRS has been taken, can avail of this scheme. SCSS offers an interest of 9.3% per annum, which is the highest in its category of government-backed schemes. The maturity period for the investments under the scheme is conveniently fixed at five years. And all investments made under SCSS qualify for tax benefit under Section 80C.
This scheme helps seniors park their retirement benefits like EPF, gratuity, etc and earn high interest from the same. The short tenure of the scheme makes it convenient to withdraw money when met with financial emergencies.
Discount in loan rates
Some banks offer discounted interest rates on loans for senior citizens. Such low interest schemes have been initiated to help them in raising finances at low rates for any immediate requirements. Canara Bank, for example, offers loans to pensioners at 12.8% which is lower than the interest rate of 15% charged for personal loans for individuals below 60 years of age.
Reverse Mortgage is a loan scheme specially designed for senior citizens and can be availed by seniors only. Under this scheme, seniors can pledge their property at any banks offering the scheme, to avail a regular monthly, quarterly or annual income. The rates of reverse mortgage scheme are much lower than personal loans (at an interest rate around 12-14%).
Higher interest rates for fixed deposits
Bank fixed deposits offer a higher interest rate for senior citizens as compared to others. This helps seniors get better returns on their investment over time. Since fixed deposits are one of the most preferred investment options for the elderly, they can conveniently park their money in banks and can even avail a loan against it at any time.
Most banks offer 0.25-0.5% higher interest rates for seniors as compared to the rates offered for others for the same tenure.
Other miscellaneous schemes
For seniors without any source of income, or those living below poverty lines, monthly pensions are given at variable rates by various State Governments/UT Administrations. Senior citizens are offered rebates on property tax also.
Many insurance providers and health insurers are coming forward with special plans for seniors. Life insurance companies have also extended the age of entry for many plans up to 70-75 years, so that seniors too can find a security blanket in their sunset years.
As the Government is now giving more emphasis on the welfare and social security for seniors, in the coming days, more helping hands and schemes can be expected for the growing population of India.