Budget debate

Review Silver Support eligibility

Several MPs have urged the Government to go beyond housing type as a criteria to qualify for the new Silver Support Scheme.
Several MPs have urged the Government to go beyond housing type as a criteria to qualify for the new Silver Support Scheme. PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

MPs yesterday raised suggestions to ensure the new Silver Support and SkillsFuture schemes benefit those who need them most.

Several MPs yesterday urged the Government to go beyond housing type as a criteria to qualify for the new Silver Support Scheme.

They cited examples of seniors living in five-room Housing Board flats who struggle financially.

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) said there might be those who made more than $70,000 in contributions to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, but who now find themselves struggling financially. Much as it helps to keep the qualifying criteria simple, Mr David asked the Finance Ministry to "consider certain cases that are in obvious need of help, but might not qualify for the scheme based on these broad criteria".

Silver Support was first announced in 2014 as a form of pension for up to the bottom 30 per cent of Singaporeans, and will make its first payout in July, with some 140,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and over getting between $300 and $750 every three months. To qualify, the recipient must not have contributed more than $70,000 to his CPF by age 55. Those who own, or whose spouse owns, a five-room or larger HDB flat or private properties will not qualify.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) said the criteria may not capture all elderly in need, citing those who live in old walk-up flats and nursing homes: "Is it the intent of the Government to push these seniors to uproot themselves from their neighbours and a familiar environment just to qualify for government support and for a better quality of life?"

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) cited a resident who lives in a five-room HDB flat with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. He felt housing criteria "disincentivises seniors who want to live with their children, because they will always lose out on Government benefits and rebates".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Review Silver Support eligibility'. Print Edition | Subscribe