Answering frequently asked questions about the new defense pension administration system

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Two months after the three-day “delay” in paying pensions to 58,759 military pensioners for April 2022, it sparked major fanfare, concerns over the System for Pension Administration Raksha (SPARSH), which angry veterans blamed for the alleged delay, continues unabated.

However, unfounded concerns about SPARSH need to be addressed as this system is designed to ensure the timely approval of various types of pensions and their timely payment based on accurately calculated monthly entitlements for each veteran.

Digitizing these functions will also eliminate the need to review pension pay slips created by the thousands of bank branches across the country that are currently responsible for determining and paying monthly pension payments to retired soldiers.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about SPARSH:

What is SPARSCH and what categories of pensioners does it include?

SPARSH is an automated pensions sanctioning and payment system centrally managed by the Principal Controller of Defense Accounts (Pensions) (PCDA(P)) in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), one of the outposts of the Defense Accounts Department (DAD). .

It was phased in for current retirees: in October 2020 for Defense civilians; in February 2021 for the Indian Air Force; in June 2021 for the Indian Navy; and in August 2021 for the Indian Army.

All “old” retirees who retired before these dates will also be gradually “migrated” to SPARSH. Ultimately, all 33 lakh-odd defense pensioners will be covered by SPARSH, under which the PCDA(P) will act as both the Pension Sanctioning Authority (PSA) and Pension Disbursing Authority (PDA).

Will SPARSH change the way old retirees and current retirees get their monthly pension credited to their bank accounts?

no Even after the retired pensioners have migrated to SPARSH, their monthly pension will continue to be credited to the designated bank account through which they received their pension before the migration. The monthly pension of the current pensioners will also increase from the beginningbegin to be credited to their designated bank account at the time of retirement.

Does a pensioner have to register or open an account on the SPARSH portal?

no However, once a pensioner’s pension is approved or an “old” pensioner is transferred to SPARSH, the system creates an individual account whose login ID and password are automatically sent to the pensioner, both on their registered mobile number and via email. This gives them access to their personal pension account if they wish, but it is not mandatory.

What does the SPARSH portal include?

It’s a comprehensive portal which displays the retiree profiles along with all relevant pension-related documents such as PPO, Monthly Pension Payment Slips, PPO Corrigenda, and Withholding Tax Statement (Form 16) and other related documents.

What about certificates of life?

Life certificates are basically proof of the existence of a pensioner.

All SPARSH Integrated Pensioners can submit this certificate to any SPARSH Service Center on the Jeevan Pramaan portal. They can also use the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare’s Jeevan Pramaan Face Application on their Android phones.

Instructions on how to use this application can be found here.

You can also visit any of the 4.5 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) for retirement assistance. These centers have been set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) across the country, down to the Gram Panchayat level, to provide a wide range of services.

Approximately 8,600 SPARSH and non-SPARSH retirees used the services of the CSCs in May and June 2022.

More than 800 branches of State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank; 161 offices of the DAD and some other Designated Service Centers (DSCs) also offer this service. This network is to be expanded in the near future.

Since these two modes are linked to SPARSH, the status of retirees in their accounts will be automatically updated once they have submitted their life certificate, which will also be reflected in their retirement account on the portal. Certificates submitted directly on the SPARSH portal are valid for 12 months from the date of submission.

However, retired retirees who have not migrated to SPARSH can use the Jeevan Praman application or visit the agency they are currently receiving their pension from to complete their paperwork and receive their pensions as before.

Where are these CSCs and other DSCs located?

Information about the location of CSCs is available on the MeiTY portal and via other DSCs on the SPARSH portal.

Aside from providing their life certificate, various services provided by the CSCs and other DSCs include providing personal savings details to allow tax payments at source, enhancing retiree profiles, and reporting their death. It also includes the initiation of a family pension application and the verification of personal data in new procedures to facilitate the approval of pensions.

How can pensioners track complaints or other pension-related claims submitted online?

Once a complaint, application or inquiry is made online, a tracking number is generated and sent to the pensioner via SMS/email for easier tracking on the SPARSH portal without logging into the personal pension account got to. Personal profile update requests can also be submitted and tracked online through this portal.

Are the pensioners informed about the initial sanction, any subsequent improvements and the monthly payment of the pension?

Yes. The request (including the pension payment order) will be published in the pensioner’s account on the SPARSH portal and sent to their registered email address if the pension or other claim is sanctioned.

Details of monthly pension payments – basic pension, relief amount, amount settled and related charges – are also communicated in a similar manner. In both cases, the pensioners are made aware of the matter via SMS on the cell phone number.

Finally, there is concern that some retirees are computer/IT illiterate and that, lost in the maze of technology, they will not be able to receive their pension benefits each month. What help is there for them?

Retirees do not need to perform any operation on the SPARSH portal to have their pension sanctioned, changed or credited to their bank account every month. From the retiree’s perspective, these functions will continue to run automatically as they ran before the migration to SPARSH.

Pensioners’ profiles, a facsimile of the pension payment order and details of the amount of the monthly pension payment are stored in the pensioners’ personal account on the SPARSH portal. If necessary, this can be called up free of charge with the help of the service points. They are available up to a gram of panchayat for retirees who are computer illiterate, don’t have an email account or don’t have a cell phone.

Amit Cowshish is a former Finance Advisor (Acquisitions) in the Department of Defense.

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