Launched in 1995, the National Social Assistance Program is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development. The program provides economic assistance to senior citizens, widows, and people with special needs by providing social pensions and envisions to fulfill the Directive Principles in Article 41 and 42 of the Constitution of India. The program provides assistance to citizens who are unemployed, old, sick, and with different needs and focuses on social security and welfare.
National Social Assistance Program encompasses five schemes, namely, Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS), Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS), Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS), National Family Benefit Scheme, and Annapurna.
To date, the program has benefited over 3 crore people in India belonging to families below the poverty line, including over 80 lac widows, 10 lac people with special needs, and 2.2 crore senior citizens.
According to the criteria described by the government of India, applicants of the program should belong to families that are below the poverty line.
Eligibility criteria vary for the following components:
For IGNOAPS, the minimum age of applicants should be 60 years. Those in the age group of 60–79 years and 80 years or more are eligible for a pension of Rs. 200 per month and Rs. 500 per month, respectively.
For IGNWPS, the minimum age of applicants should be 40 years, with Rs. 300 per month as their pension. After applicants turn 80 years old, they receive Rs. 500 per month.
For IGNDPS, the minimum age should be 18 years or more and the disability rate should be 80%. The initial amount received is Rs. 300 per month, whereas once 80 years old, applicants receive Rs. 500 per month.
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