National Pension System

National Pension System

What is National Pension Scheme (NPS)

The National Pension Scheme is a social security initiative by the Central Government. This pension programme is open to employees from the public, private and even the unorganised sectors except those from the armed forces.

The scheme encourages people to invest in a pension account at regular intervals during the course of their employment. After retirement, the subscribers can take out a certain percentage of the corpus. As an NPS account holder, you will receive the remaining amount as a monthly pension post your retirement.

Earlier, the NPS scheme covered only Central Government employees. Central Government employees joining on or after 01-01- 2004 are mandatorily covered under the NPS. Now, however, the PFRDA has made it open to all Indian citizens on a voluntary basis.

The NPS scheme holds immense value for anyone who works in the private sector and requires a regular pension after retirement. The scheme is portable across jobs and locations, with tax benefits under Section 80C and Section 80CCD.

Who should invest in the NPS?

The NPS is a good scheme for anyone who wants to plan for their retirement early on and has a low-risk appetite. A regular pension (income) in your retirement years will no doubt be a boon, especially for those individuals who retire from private-sector jobs.

A systematic investment like this can make a massive difference in your life post-retirement. In fact, salaried people who want to make the most of the 80C deductions can also consider this scheme.

Features & Benefits of NPS


A portion of the NPS goes to equities (this may not offer guaranteed returns). However, it offers returns that are much higher than other traditional tax-saving investments like the PPF.

This scheme has been in effect for over a decade, and so far has delivered 9% to 12% annualised returns. In NPS, you are also allowed the option to change your fund manager if you are not happy with the performance of the fund.

Risk Assessment

Currently, there is a cap in the range of 75% to 50% on equity exposure for the National Pension Scheme. For government employees, this cap is 50%. In the range prescribed, the equity portion will reduce by 2.5% each year beginning from the year in which the investor turns 50 years of age.

However, for an investor of the age 60 years and above, the cap is fixed at 50%. This stabilizes the risk-return equation in the interest of investors, which means the corpus is somewhat safe from the equity market volatility.

The earning potential of NPS is higher as compared to other fixed-income schemes.

Tax efficiency – NPS tax benefit

There is a deduction of up to Rs.1.5 lakh to be claimed for NPS for your contribution as well as for the contribution of the employer. 80CCD(1) covers the self-contribution, which is a part of Section 80C.

The maximum deduction one can claim under 80CCD(1) is 10% of the salary, but no more than the said limit. For the self-employed taxpayer, this limit is 20% of the gross income.

Section 80CCD(2) covers the employer’s NPS contribution, which will not form a part of Section 80C. This benefit is not available for self-employed taxpayers.

The maximum amount eligible for deduction will be the lowest of the below:

  • Actual NPS contribution by employer
  • 10% of Basic + DA
  • Gross total income

You can claim any additional self-contribution (up to Rs 50,000) under section 80CCD(1B) as an NPS tax benefit. The scheme, therefore, allows a tax deduction of up to Rs 2 lakh in total.

Withdrawal Rules After 60

Contrary to common belief, you cannot withdraw the entire corpus of the NPS scheme after your retirement. You are compulsorily required to keep aside at least 40% of the corpus to receive a regular pension from a PFRDA-registered insurance firm.

The remaining 60% is tax-free now. The latest update from the government says that the entire NPS withdrawal corpus is exempt from tax.

Early Withdrawal and Exit rules

As a pension scheme, it is important for you to continue investing until the age of 60. However, if you have been investing for at least three years, you may withdraw up to 25% for certain purposes.

These include children’s wedding or higher studies, building/buying a house or medical treatment of self/family, among others. You can make a withdrawal up to three times (with a gap of five years) in the entire tenure.

These restrictions are only imposed on tier I accounts and not on tier II accounts. Please scroll down for more details on them.

NPS Eligibility

Any person fulfilling the following eligibility criteria can join NPS

  • Should be an Indian citizen (resident or non-resident) or an Overseas citizen of India (OCI).
  • Should be aged between 18 – 70 years.
  • Should comply with the Know Your Customer (KYC) norms detailed in the application form.
  • Should be legally competent to execute a contract as per the Indian Contract Act.
  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) are not eligible to subscribe to NPS.
  • NPS is an individual pension account, thus it cannot be opened on behalf of a third person.

Types of NPS Account

The two primary account types under the NPS are tier I and tier II. The former is the default account while the latter is a voluntary addition. The table below explains the two account types in detail.  


NPS Tier-I Account

NPS Tier-II Account





As per the rules/regulations


Tax exemption

Up to Rs 2 lakh p.a.(Under 80C and 80CCD)

1.5 lakh for government employees Other employees-None

Minimum NPS contribution for opening an account



Minimum NPS contribution

Rs 500 per month or Rs 1,000 p.a.

Rs 250

Maximum NPS contribution

No limit

No limit

The Tier-I account is mandatory for everyone who opts for the NPS scheme. The Central Government employees have to contribute 10% of their basic salary. For everyone else, the NPS is a voluntary investment option.

NPS Interest Rate

The NPS interest rate depends on the performance of the assets. Thus, the amount of return received upon retirement cannot be determined beforehand. NPS is a market-linked product where you can invest in a mix of equity, government debt, corporate debt, and alternative assets. Once you decide on the asset mix and fund manager, the money is invested in specific schemes investing in these 4 asset classes.

NPS also offer the flexibility to have two accounts – Tier I and Tier II accounts. Below are the returns shown for NPS current interest rate for both tier I and tier II accounts (as of 15th January 2021):

NPS Tier 1 Returns:

Asset Classes

1-year returns(%)

5-year returns (%)

10-year returns(%)





Corporate Bonds




Government Bonds




Alternate Assets


NPS Tier 2 Returns:

Asset Classes

1-year returns(%)

5-year returns (%)

10-year returns(%)





Corporate Bonds




Government Bonds