More retirees seeking financial assistance

The proportion of retirees who applied for short- to medium-term assistance from the ComCare Endowment Fund rose from 9.9 per cent in 2012 to 12.9 per cent last year. Experts say it is likely due to an ageing population, compounded by seniors not hav
The proportion of retirees who applied for short- to medium-term assistance from the ComCare Endowment Fund rose from 9.9 per cent in 2012 to 12.9 per cent last year. Experts say it is likely due to an ageing population, compounded by seniors not having enough savings to cope with rising living costs.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

More retirees, even after decades of working, are applying for social assistance.

The proportion of retirees who applied for short- to medium-term assistance from the Community Care (ComCare) Endowment Fund increased from 9.9 per cent in 2012 to 12.9 per cent last year.

The proportion of people aged 55 and above who applied for such help also rose during the same period: from 29.4 per cent to 35.2 per cent.

This was revealed in a ComCare trends report released by the Ministry of Social and Family Development yesterday. It gave figures on the breakdown of citizens who received financial aid from the state in the last four financial years.

 

This is the second time that the ministry has released such a report. It previously did so last year.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said the trends of more households with elderly people and retirees requiring social assistance "caught (his) attention". He added that his ministry will continue to monitor the trends closely, and reach out to vulnerable elderly people and families.

Experts in the social service sector said the rise is likely due to an ageing population, compounded by retirees not having enough savings to cope with rising living costs.

Short- to medium-term financial help is targeted at low-income people who are looking for work or are temporarily unable to work, perhaps due to illness. It is also for people who have little or no family support or savings to meet their daily needs.

Retirees seeking such help probably fall under this group, said social workers.

Ms Petrine Lim, principal social worker at Fei Yue Family Service Centre, said the retirees who apply for financial aid are likely to have previously held blue-collar jobs with low wages.

Medical costs and other living expenses have risen over the years, she added.

Mr Ng Koon Sing, head of Comnet Senior Services at AMKFSC Community Services, noted that some low-income elderly people have strained relationships with their children, who may not be offering them financial support even if they have the means to do so.

He said the Government has been giving financial help to needy seniors in recent years, through policies such as the Pioneer Generation Package and Silver Support Scheme.

Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan suggested that more be done to spur people to have financial literacy and plan for their retirement.

Retired cleaner Tan Cheng Yan, 61, has a monthly Central Provident Fund payout of $700 but hopes to receive ComCare help too.

"I stopped work because of my heart problems. My three step-children have their own families and are not willing to help, while my wife does not get much income as a kitchen help. So it would help if my ComCare application could be approved," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'More retirees seeking financial assistance'. Print Edition | Subscribe