Many unsure about CPF, CPF Life details

Workers outside CPF Building in the financial district area. A majority of Singaporeans are unsure about the specifics of the CPF Minimum Sum and CPF Life schemes, a poll by Government feedback channel Reach found. -- ST PHOTO: FILE
Workers outside CPF Building in the financial district area. A majority of Singaporeans are unsure about the specifics of the CPF Minimum Sum and CPF Life schemes, a poll by Government feedback channel Reach found. -- ST PHOTO: FILE

A majority of Singaporeans have heard of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Minimum Sum and CPF Life annuity but many do not know the specifics of these schemes.

A poll by the Government's feedback unit Reach found that eight in 10 of the 1,000 citizens surveyed said they had heard of the CPF Minimum Sum, which is the amount that has to be set aside in a person's CPF retirement account when he turns 55.

About six in 10 said they had heard of CPF Life, the compulsory annuity scheme that gives monthly payouts for life.

But awareness fell when the telephone survey, which polled a representative sample of citizens aged 20 and over from June 16 to 20, went into the specifics.

Some 56 per cent of the 686 respondents aged under 55 knew that if they do not meet the Minimum Sum, they do not have to top up the shortfall in cash.

Just 43 per cent of those aged under 55 knew that they would still get a monthly payout even if they do not meet the Minimum Sum, which was raised to $155,000 this month.

Some 38 per cent of those aged under 55 were aware that they could pledge their property to up to half of the Minimum Sum, to help meet the amount.

The poll also asked respondents how much someone turning 55 from this month to next June would get in monthly payouts from age 65, if he meets the Minimum Sum requirement. Over half of respondents aged under 55 did not know, while just 13 per cent identified the correct monthly payout of $1,000 to $1,500.

Reach chairman Amy Khor said the results show many Singaporeans may have only a basic level of understanding of the CPF system. There is room for more concerted effort to communicate the Minimum Sum and CPF Life schemes to the public, said Dr Khor, who is Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower. "As these two schemes are complex, it is important for us to explain them in a manner that is easy for ordinary Singaporeans to understand," she said, adding the Government will intensify its outreach to help Singaporeans better understand CPF and plan for retirement.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in May that the Government is studying how to improve CPF and CPF Life.

andreao@sph.com.sg