More generous means testing for the disabled

WE THANK Dr Daniel Ng Peng Keat for his feedback ("Review means test for families with special needs"; last Thursday).

In his letter, Dr Ng suggested that greater weighting be assigned to a person with special needs or a disability, when computing per capita income for means testing.

We fully agree that families where a member has a disability need more assistance and help. Currently, lower-income households qualify for higher government subsidies.

Although we currently do not assign different weighting to family members with disabilities, we have adopted a more generous computation formula in means testing for disability services.

For instance, incomes of working siblings are excluded from the computation so that the family can qualify for higher-subsidy tiers.

This is in recognition of the additional financial burden shouldered by these families.

For other means-tested benefits, such as pre-school subsidies, healthcare subsidies, and ComCare financial assistance, there is flexibility by various institutions and government agencies to assess a family's needs holistically and provide higher tiers of support.

This approach takes into consideration the fact that there may be mitigating circumstances faced by families, including the need to support family members with disabilities.

The Government has also provided additional support for people with disabilities and their families.

For example, the base subsidy for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (Eipic) has been increased from $300 to $500 last year. Additional subsidies for Eipic have also been extended to cover up to 80 per cent of families.

People with disabilities enjoy transport subsidies such as the public transport concession, voluntary welfare organisation (VWO) transport subsidies, taxi subsidies, and grants for dedicated transport services which help to reduce their transport costs.

Foreign Domestic Worker levy concessions are also available for families with people with disabilities.

We will take note of Dr Ng's suggestions and will continue to review means-tested schemes and policies to better meet the needs of families, and people with disabilities.

Wong Kuan Ying (Ms)

Director

Disability Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2015, with the headline 'More generous means testing for the disabled'. Print Edition | Subscribe