CPF members go for higher top up limits

Central Provident Fund (CPF) members made 1,700 top-ups - worth $80 million - to their Retirement Accounts in January to boost their retirement savings beyond the Full Retirement Sum.

This was the first month that a change in the CPF system took effect, allowing people above the age of 55 to set aside a higher sum - the Enhanced Retirement Sum - that will give them higher lifelong payouts under CPF Life.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say provided these figures on Monday in a written reply to Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC), who asked about the impact of recent CPF changes.

CPF Life is an annuity scheme that gives members monthly payouts when they reach the eligible age, with the amount depending on how much money they have in their Retirement Account.

The Enhanced Retirement Sum is $241,500 for those turning 55 this year, which translates to monthly payouts of $1,770 to $1,990 later on.

Previously, the maximum amount members could set aside was the Full Retirement Sum, which is $161,000 for those turning 55 this year, and translates to monthly payouts of $1,220 to $1,320.

This was known as the Minimum Sum under an older scheme.

Ms Foo, speaking to The Straits Times, said she lobbied for the cap on these savings to be raised because many of her constituents felt the lower level of payouts would not be enough to give them a secure retirement, based on their needs. "There is clearly a segment of people who appreciate CPF giving them high returns, risk free," she said.

Another change to the CPF system allows members to transfer money to their spouse's Special or Retirement Account, if they themselves have met the Basic Retirement Sum. It is $80,500 for those turning 55 this year.

Previously, they could make such transfers only if they met the Full Retirement Sum.

Mr Lim said there were over 400 transfers of CPF savings to spouses in January, around 2 1/2 times more than the same month last year. About 20 of the transfers were made possible only after the scheme was changed.

In total, $12 million was transferred by CPF members to their spouse in January.

Ms Padmaja Nair, 57, was among those who topped up their Retirement Account to get higher payouts in future. She put in $15,000 beyond the Full Retirement Sum for her cohort.

"I'm not an investment-savvy person, so I'd rather...put it in the Retirement Account to get better interest rates," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'CPF members go for higher top up limits'. Print Edition | Subscribe