Parliament: 2,300 appeals to join Silver Support Scheme received, majority pending documents for reassessment

Silver Support, along with ComCare, Medifund and other schemes, falls under the third tier of a three-tier system to provide support for seniors with varying levels of need.
Silver Support, along with ComCare, Medifund and other schemes, falls under the third tier of a three-tier system to provide support for seniors with varying levels of need.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board has received about 2,300 appeals to be included under the Silver Support Scheme since the first payout in July, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said on Tuesday (Sept 13).

Mr Lim told Parliament that some cases had been approved because the seniors' circumstances had changed in the past 15 months and they now met the criteria to join the scheme, which provides quarterly payouts for low-income seniors.

Some cases where seniors narrowly missed out on one of the three criteria to qualify for the scheme - lifetime wages or CPF contributions, housing type and level of financial support in the household - but met other requirements by a big margin, were also approved on a case-by-case basis.

Other cases were rejected because the seniors had far exceed the thresholds of the criteria, while the majority of appeals are still pending additional information and documents from the seniors so they can be reassessed, said Mr Lim.

"Seniors who do not qualify for Silver Support but require financial assistance can approach any Social Service Office for help," he said.

Mr Lim was providing an update in response to questions from MPs Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) and Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson), and said the scheme is part of a three-tier system to provide support for seniors with varying levels of need.

The first tier covers all seniors and includes MediShield Life, Senior Citizen Concession Cards and the foreign domestic worker levy concessions for daily care at home.

The second tier, for the majority of seniors, includes the GST Voucher Scheme for utilities and healthcare and the Lease Buyback Scheme.

Silver Support, along with ComCare, Medifund and other schemes, falls under the third tier which is for a minority of seniors who need even more support.

The first Silver Support Scheme payout in July covered about 140,000 citizens aged 65 and above, or about three in 10 of those in that age group. About two-thirds of seniors met the first criterion of having total CPF contributions of $70,000 or less when they turned 55, said Mr Lim.

The People's Association, grassroots advisers and Pioneer Generation ambassadors are helping to explain the scheme to seniors.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) also asked the minister about the criterion of per capita household income, which must be no more than $1,100 per month.

"I've got residents who say their children are staying with them to help look after them because they are advanced in age, but because their children are staying with them their household income has exceeded. The solution seems to be to ask the children to move out," said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim Swee Say said that in marginal cases where the household size is small, for example for a mother and son pair where the son earns $2,500 which is beyond the qualifying ceiling, the ministry would assess the situation "from a total perspective".

"The solution is for the children to continue to take care of the senior," he added.

The minister also said that per capita household income data is more readily available than per capita family income, which would include children who are not living with their parents, but the other measure could be used in the future with better information networks.

He said, in response to Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang), that while eligibility for the scheme is reviewed annually, seniors can request  a review at any time during the year.

If they are eligible, they will qualify for support from the date of appeal.

The review for 2017 will be completed in November this year and those who qualify for Silver Support will receive letters of notification by the end of this year.