Singapore Budget 2015: Low-income senior citizens to get $300-$750 in payouts every three months under Silver Support Scheme

SINGAPORE- About 150,000 of today's elderly will get payouts every three months, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced during his Budget speech on Monday.

Current and future low-income senior citizens will receive these payouts under the Silver Support Scheme, a permanent initiative which aims to help the bottom 20 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and above. They will receive between $300 and $750 in payouts. The average recipient who qualifies for the scheme will get $600, based on the criteria of amount of lifetime wages, housing type and household support.

Assessment of eligibility for the permanent scheme will be done automatically, and the payouts will start around the first quarter of 2016, said Mr Tharman.

"We expect that the majority of those living in one- and two-room flats will receive Silver Support, with a smaller proportion of those living in larger HDB flats qualifying. Those who have been homemakers for a good part of their lives and hence earned little will qualify, if their families are not well off," Mr Tharman said. Additionally, up to 30 per cent of senior citizens will also get help, but to a smaller degree.

The scheme, which was mooted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in August 2014, is estimated to cost the Government $350 million in its first full year. More details will be released by the Ministry of Manpower at a later date.

In 2015, in the interim before the scheme is implemented, senior citizens who are aged 65 and above, live in Housing Board flats, and whose assessable income for 2014 is $26,000 or less, will receive a one-off "Seniors' Bonus".

The bonus will be in the form of Goods and Services Tax (GST) vouchers and will be on top of the vouchers for those aged 21 and above.

The amount seniors will receive will be based on the annual value of their home as at Dec 31, 2014. Those who are 65 years old and above whose homes are valued at up to $13,000 will receive $600, while those aged between 55 and 64 will receive $300. Senior citizens aged 55 and above will receive $150 if their flats are valued at between $13,001 and $21,000.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg