CPF Life and Medisave

Office workers walking past the CPF building in Robinson Road.
Office workers walking past the CPF building in Robinson Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Sunday Times outlines the CPF Life scheme and the Medisave Account.


Life is a national annuity scheme that provides monthly payouts for as long as you live. This gives you greater peace of mind in retirement as you do not have to worry about outliving your savings. This is especially important as Singaporeans are living longer.

About half of Singaporeans who are 65 today are expected to live beyond the age of 85 and a third of them will live beyond 90. Having an income that will last you for as long as you live is more vital than ever.

You will be placed on CPF Life if you are a Singapore citizen or permanent resident born in 1958 or after, and have $60,000 or more in your Retirement Account (RA) when you turn 65.


If you are not placed on CPF Life, you can apply to join the scheme any time from age 65 to before you turn 80. Alternatively, you can remain on the Retirement Sum Scheme (formerly known as the Minimum Sum Scheme), where you will receive a monthly payout until your RA balance runs out.

The CPF Board will write to you again nearer to your 65th birthday to explain the decisions you need to make.

While you do not need to make any decision or take any action now, it is good to understand what CPF Life plans are available. There are three plans under CPF Life, known as Standard, Basic and Escalating plans.

Each CPF Life plan provides a different combination of trade-offs between the amount of monthly payouts you will receive and the bequest you will leave for your beneficiaries.


Your Medisave contributions will go into your Medisave Account (MA) until the balance reaches the Basic Healthcare Sum (BHS) for that year.

Amounts above this sum will be transferred to your RA or Ordinary Account (OA) to boost your monthly payouts in retirement.

The BHS is the estimated savings you need for your basic subsidised healthcare needs in old age. It will be adjusted annually, in January, to keep pace with the growth in Medisave use by the elderly. The BHS for this year is $52,000.

Once you reach age 65, your BHS will be fixed at that year's BHS for the rest of your life.


If you have not met your BHS, you may apply to transfer the savings in your Special Account (SA) and/or OA to your MA, up to your BHS.

To do so, you have to be aged 55 and above and have the Full Retirement Sum or Basic Retirement Sum with sufficient property charge/ pledge in your RA.

You may also apply to transfer the savings in your SA and/or OA to the MA of your loved ones aged 55 and above, up to their BHS. Loved ones refer to spouses, siblings, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents and grandparents-in-law.

The savings which you transfer to your loved ones' MA can be used to pay for their own and their immediate family members' medical expenses, as well as the premiums of approved medical insurance schemes such as MediShield Life.

Lorna Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'CPF Life and Medisave'. Print Edition | Subscribe