Govt plans special pension for widows of war-disabled soldiers

In what could be a good news to families of disabled soldiers and paramilitary personnel, the Centre may soon take a decision on a two-year-old proposal to provide a special family pension to their widows, who now get a pittance as pension.

The Department of Pension and Pensioners' Welfare (DoPPW) has decided to take up the issue as it felt that movement on the proposal, which is at present examined by the Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare under the Defence Ministry, was “very slow”.

The DoPPW felt that it could take a call on the issue as it “equally concerns para-military forces”.

After the death of the disabled personnel, disability element in the pension is withdrawn and the widow’s family pension is fixed on the basis of service element only. The disabled personnel receives a war injury pension comprising war injury or disability element as well as the service element. When the personnel dies, the disability component is withdrawn, leaving “very less” for the family.

Combining the war injury element with the service element enhances the total pension to a “reasonable amount”.

The issue of adding the disability component to the family pension of such personnel will be considered at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Voluntary Agencies (SCOVA), organised by the DoPPW under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, on February 5 in New Delhi.

Minister of State V Narayanasamy will chair the deliberations. The Department has included the issue in the agenda of the meeting to be attended by members of association of pensioners and senior officials of various ministries and departments, including finance, telecom and railways.

In its agenda note, the department noted that the financial burden would be “limited” as the number of disabled personnel was small and the benefit would accrue to the widow only after a veteran’s demise. “The morale-boosting impact on the armed forces and paramilitary forces, however, would be huge,” it said.

Most war-disabled ex-servicemen are forced to leave service at a very young age, often after less than five years of service, and in junior ranks, without achieving their full potential. The service element in their war injury pension is accordingly fixed very low, the DoPPW note said.

“As the career of a disabled ex-serviceman is curtailed while fighting for the nation in adverse circumstances, it is imperative that after his demise, the family does not suffer financially. This can be assured to some extent by not excluding the war injury element for the purpose of computing family pension entitlement of the widow,” it said.

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