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National Social Assistance Programme

Updated on :  

08 min read.

The Government of India launched the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) on 15 August 1995. The NSAP is a welfare programme implemented in rural and urban areas. The NSAP is a significant step towards fulfilling the Directive Principles of State Policy provided in the Constitution of India, which prescribes the State Governments to undertake within its means several welfare measures.

The government launched the NSAP to fulfil the principles intended to secure the citizens’ adequate means of livelihood, improve public health, raise the standard of living, provide free and compulsory education for children etc.

The Government of India modified the eligibility criteria of the NSAP on 13 September 2007. The modified eligibility criteria grants old age pension to persons aged above 65 years and belonging to a Below Poverty Line (BPL) household as against the criteria of the beneficiary being destitute of above 65 years. Thus, the modified criteria universalised the pension.

Objective of NSAP

  • Provides social assistance benefits to the poor households in the case of death, maternity or old age of the breadwinner.
  • Ensure minimum national standards, in addition to the benefits, the States are currently providing or might provide in the future.
  • Ensure uniform social protection to the beneficiaries across the country without interruption.

Features of the NSAP


The Municipalities or Gram Panchayat play an active role in identifying the beneficiaries under the NSAP schemes.


The benefits of the NSAP scheme are disbursed to the beneficiaries through bank accounts, Post Office Savings Banks or Postal Money Order. The assistance under the old-age pension scheme can also be disbursed in public meetings such as neighbourhood or mohalla committees in urban areas and Gram Sabha meetings in rural areas. Recently, the government also decided to credit pensions to the beneficiary’s post office or public sector bank account.


The States and UTs have the flexibility to implement the NSAP schemes through any state government department. However, they have to designate a Nodal Secretary at the State level to report implementation progress by coordinating with various departments concerned with the scheme implementation. The progress of scheme implementation is to be reported through quarterly reports by the 15th of the month of the following quarter.

Components of NSAP

Initially, the NSAP comprised of three components when it was launched, which are as follows:

  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS).
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS).
  • National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS).

On 1 April 2000, a new scheme – ‘Annapurna’ was launched, aiming to provide food security to meet the senior citizens’ requirements, who remained uncovered under the NOAPS though eligible for the same.

In February 2009, the government added two more schemes known as the  Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) and Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).

Presently the NSAP comprises of the following five schemes:

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS).
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS).
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS).
  • Annapurna.
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS).

Eligibility Under NSAP Schemes

The eligibility criteria to apply for obtaining the benefits of the different NSAP schemes are as follows:

NSAP SchemeEligibility Criteria
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)BPL persons aged 60 years or above
Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)BPL persons aged between 18 to 59 years with severe and multiple disabilities
Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) BPL widows aged between 40 to 59 years 
AnnapurnaSenior citizens who have remained uncovered under NOAPS though eligible for the same 
National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)BPL household is entitled to lump sum money upon the death of the primary breadwinner aged between 18 and 64 years

Benefits Provided under NSAP Schemes

The benefits provided under the different NSAP schemes are as follows:

NSAP SchemeBenefits Provided
Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS)A monthly pension of Rs.200 up to 79 years and Rs.500 thereafter
Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS)A monthly pension of Rs.200.
Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS)A monthly pension of Rs.200.
Annapurna10 kg of food grains per month free of cost 
National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)A lump sum amount of Rs.10,000

Implementation of NSAP Schemes

The NSAP schemes are implemented in the States/UTs as per the applicable general conditions to all components and specific conditions applicable to each component. The social welfare departments in the States mainly implement the NSAP schemes in both the rural and urban areas.

In the rural areas, the NSAP scheme beneficiaries will be identified from the BPL list prepared by the States/UTs according to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) for the BPL Census 2002. In the urban areas, the identification of eligible beneficiaries for the NSAP schemes will be carried out according to the BPL list required to be prepared in connection with the poverty alleviation programme of the Ministry of Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation.

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