Oral Answer By Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on Silver Support Scheme
NOTICE PAPER NO. 344 OF 2016 FOR THE SITTING ON 13 SEP 2016 QUESTION NO. 576 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr Lim Biow Chuan
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) to date, how many appeals have been received by the CPF Board for inclusion into the Silver Support Scheme; and (b) how many of such appeals have been acceded to.
NOTICE PAPER NO. 344 OF 2016 FOR THE SITTING ON 13 SEP 2016 QUESTION NO. 577 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Dr Tan Wu Meng
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) among Singaporeans turning 65 years old in (i) 2016 and (ii) 2017, what proportion would not have had more than $70,000 in total CPF contribution at age 55; and (b) whether the Ministry when formulating the Silver Support Scheme’s CPF contribution ceiling has taken into consideration (i) the adjustments made to the CPF contribution rates over the past 20 years; and (ii) the age when the first CPF contribution was made in view of the different CPF contribution rate for different age groups introduced in 1988.
NOTICE PAPER NO. 346 OF 2016 FOR THE SITTING ON 13 SEP 2016 QUESTION NO. 581 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Ms Tin Pei Ling
To ask the Minister for Manpower what is the success rate of appeal for the Silver Support Scheme as at 31 August 2016 and what are the main reasons for the rejection of such appeals.
- Madam Speaker, may I please take PQs 576, 577 and 581 together as they all relate to the Silver Support Scheme?
- Madam Speaker, I would like to put Silver Support in proper perspective. Silver Support is the latest addition to our seniors’ support schemes. Over the years, the Government has put in place a comprehensive framework to support seniors in their various needs. There are three tiers of schemes. Let me illustrate.
- First tier offers universal coverage for all seniors. We have MediShield Life for healthcare, Senior Citizen Concession Card for public transport and foreign domestic worker levy concessions for daily care at home.
- Second tier provides another layer of support to a majority of seniors. We have GST Voucher Scheme for utilities and healthcare. To supplement retirement incomes, we also have the Silver Housing Bonus and enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme for seniors to monetise their property.
- Third tier is for a minority of seniors who need even more support. To provide them with the extra help they need, we have ComCare for short and long-term financial assistance, CHAS Blue, Medifund and MediShield Life Additional Premium Support for healthcare.
- The Silver Support Scheme is the latest addition to the third tier of support. It is targeted mainly at the bottom 20% of elderly Singaporeans aged 65 and above, with a smaller degree of support extended to up to the next 10% of seniors. Specifically, we identify them as seniors who not only have little or no family support currently in their retirement years, but also did not manage to save enough for their retirement because they earned low wages over their prime working years.
- The eligibility criteria for Silver Support were announced by the Minister for Finance at Budget 2016. The first criterion is total CPF contributions made during prime working years till age 55. Wages were generally low in the early years of Singapore’s economic development. As a result, a vast majority of our workers earned low wages in their younger days. Notwithstanding the changes in CPF contribution rates over the years, a majority of our seniors (about two-thirds) have total CPF contributions of $70,000 or less when they turned 55. Among them, some owned smaller homes with less scope to monetise their assets, and some currently continue to have lesser family support and lower household income. By combining the three criteria of (i) total CPF contributions capped at $70,000, (ii) home ownership of 4-room HDB flat or smaller or live in 5-room flat or smaller, and (iii) household monthly income per person of not more than $1,100, we ensure that Silver Support goes to these seniors who need more help than the others.140,000 of them received their first Silver Support payouts in July 2016.
- To help our seniors better understand the new scheme, we have set up a Silver Support website for them to check their eligibility and get clarifications on frequently asked questions. Seniors can also call the Silver Support hotline (1800-222-6622) or visit any of the CPF Service Centres. To date, CPF Board has handled more than 28,000 enquiries.
- We also disseminate information and distribute brochures on Silver Support through the grassroots network such as the Community Centres. Pioneer Generation Ambassadors are also trained to explain the scheme to seniors during their house visits (so far, in total about 15,000 seniors).
- So far, CPF Board has received about 2,300 appeals for Silver Support. Among the cases processed, some have been rejected because the seniors had far exceeded the thresholds of the three criteria. Some cases have been approved because the seniors’ circumstances have changed in the past 15 months and they now meet all three criteria. There were also some marginal cases where seniors narrowly missed out on one criterion, but met the other criteria by a large margin. For such appeals, we consider their circumstances in total and decide on a case-by-case basis. However, the majority of the appeal cases are still pending because CPF Board is waiting for the appellants to provide additional information and documents to reassess their eligibility.
- The Silver Support Scheme will cost close to $320 million in the first year to support about 140,000 of our seniors. It complements the extensive range of support schemes for our seniors. Seniors who do not qualify for Silver Support but require financial assistance can approach any Social Service Office for help. As the Minister of Finance said at Budget 2016, and I quote “the majority of our seniors, even if they do not qualify for Silver Support, will continue to benefit from substantial existing support schemes”.