Rajnath Singh: Disability pension for military will be exempt from tax only upto a limit

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NEW DELHI: The disability pension for military personnel will be exempt from income tax only upto a certain limit, the three defence services have recommended to the defence ministry. Beyond that limit, disability pension will be taxed.

The Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) comprising the chiefs of the army, air force and navy and headed by the senior most among them- currently General Bipin Rawat- sent recommendations to the defence ministry on disability pension. One of the recommendations was “that income tax exemption should be given on the disability part of pension upto a certain limit,” according to Lieutenant General Ashwani Kumar, the army’s Adjutant General, who deals with the matter.

This is a partial roll-back of the finance ministry June circular which stated that income tax exemption on disability pension would be available only for those military personnel who have been ‘invalidated’ from service due to disability. But, pointed out that the benefit would not be available for those with disabilities who retire after complete service. The move led to an outcry in the defence fraternity with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh promising to look into the issue and asking the three chiefs for their views.

The army, which is the largest in strength among the three services, felt that the benefit of disability pension was being misused, because it witnessed a trend of officers seeking it for monetary benefits even though their medical condition was an outcome of their lifestyle. So, it welcomed the move by the finance ministry.

“Those officers involved in impropriety in maintaining their medical profile have been given due punishment. We have started noting such cases,” Kumar said, adding that a Major General was ‘sent home’ or dismissed from service for misappropriating his records.

The army is also looking at ensuring that disability pension is given to those soldiers who truly deserve it, in a move to ensure optimal utilisation of the budget. It is therefore bringing in new mechanisms to prevent false claims for disability pension. Officers at the rank of Major General and above claiming disability can get their medical certificate only from a command hospital (located under each of the seven army commands) or from the Armed Forces Clinic in Delhi. Those who are ‘shape 1’ (healthy) can get their certificates from any military hospital.

About 30 to 35 percent officers are not in shape 1 when they are retiring. Explaining the level of disability in the army, he said, “If the average number of officers retiring every month is 70, then 35 percent of them suffer from disability. Out of the 35 percent, 50 to 60 percent of them get disability pension.”



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