Dear reader, in your salary receipt, you must have seen a certain amount under the head 'Employee Provident Fund' which does not form a part of your cash-in-hand salary. So what is this EPF and where does this money go? How can you claim this money? Read everything you need to know about your EPF account here. The Employee Provident Fund is a corpus built through regular contributions by you and your employer with the aim of creating savings that you can use after your retirement. It is a government scheme, maintained and overseen by the Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO). Every company, which has at least 20 employees is required by law, to get registered with the EPFO. A minimum deduction equal to 12% of your basic pay plus dearness allowance (DA) and retaining allowance is made from your salary as your contribution towards the fund. Your employer is also required to make a matching 12% contribution, however, the employer's share gets divided between your EPF (3.67%) and your Employee's Pension Scheme (8.33%) account. Yes, you can opt out of the EPF scheme, but such an option is only available at the beginning of your career. You can make the request regarding the non-participation with your first employer and can get it done by filling out Form 11. However, if even once a contribution has been made towards the EPF under your name, you cannot opt out. EPF allows for accumulation of money by way of a fixed rate of interest. The rate of interest for the FY 2018-19 is 8.55%. EPF helps you save tax, by keeping your EPF contribution tax-deductible. Also, EPF withdrawals attract zero tax, if made after 5 years of continuous service. Undoubtedly, the fund provides financial security at the time of retirement. You can check your EPF balance once you have been allotted a Universal Account Number (UAN) and it is activated. Either your employer can generate the UAN for you or you can generate it yourself using your Aadhaar card (only if it's linked with your mobile number). To generate the UAN yourself, you need to visit the unified member portal of EPFO at https:\/\/unifiedportal-mem.epfindia.gov.in\/memberinterface\/ Once, you have been allotted a UAN and it's activated, you can check your EPF balance using a number of different ways. You can view your EPF passbook by logging in with your UAN at the EPFO official website www.epfindia.gov.in. Or, you can also check the same by using either the government's Umang app or the EPFO app. Read on to know more ways. Details regarding the latest EPF contribution can also be fetched by sending an SMS to 7738299899 in the format of EPFOHO UAN ENG. ENG represents the first three characters of the preferred language. The service is available in 8 regional languages, besides English and Hindi. You can also give a missed call on 011-22901406 from your registered mobile number to know the balance. You can withdraw your complete EPF balance either when you retire from employment upon reaching the age of 58 or before that if you have remained unemployed for at least 2 months. You can also withdraw the amount partially in case of marriage, purchase of land\/house, repayment of home loan, house renovation and after attaining the age of 57 subject to certain conditions. To withdraw your EPF balance offline, you can download the Composite Claim Form (Aadhaar)\/ Composite Claim Form (Non-Aadhaar) from https:\/\/www.epfindia.gov.in\/site_en\/Downloads.php?id=sm8_index#Claim%20Form. The form needs to be filed and submitted to the respective jurisdictional EPFO office . In case you are submitting the Composite Claim Form (Non-Aadhaar), it must be attested by your employer. To withdraw your EPF balance online, visit and log in with your UAN at the EPFO unified portal. Then, go to the tab 'Online Services' and select the option 'Claim' from the drop-down list to go to the 'Claim' screen. Then click on the tab 'Proceed For Online Claim' and choose the type of your claim request under 'I Want To Apply For' tab. Upon joining a new company, you need to submit the Composite Declaration Form along with your UAN and previous PF number. Then your present employer will enter the information provided by you on the EPFO's employer portal, triggering an automatic process which will generate a new PF account number linked to your UAN. This PF account number will correspond to your current employer.