Make full CPF payout by age 70

The issue of Central Provident Fund (CPF) payouts is of great interest to all Singaporeans since it concerns everyone's hard-earned money.
The issue of Central Provident Fund (CPF) payouts is of great interest to all Singaporeans since it concerns everyone's hard-earned money. PHOTO: ST FILE

The issue of Central Provident Fund (CPF) payouts is of great interest to all Singaporeans since it concerns everyone's hard-earned money.

Recent comments on the issue by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo raise a few questions (No change to CPF payout age: Josephine Teo, Feb 19).

If the interest rate earned by CPF savings is indeed risk-free and well above market rates, then it stands to reason that many more people would opt for the deferment of payment.

So why not make payouts automatically start at 65, or even earlier, especially since Mrs Teo said there was no advantage for the CPF Board or the Government to want members to defer payouts beyond 65?

Let those who need the money receive it, and the rest can opt for the deferred payout and enjoy the attractive interest rate.

Both sides get what they want in that scenario, and it seems unlikely that such an easily-explained change would take "a long while for people to get used to".

There are also compelling reasons for not extending the final payout age beyond 70.

According to the Department of Statistics (SingStat), the survival rates for Singapore residents drop steeply after 70.

The payout at age 70 should include the entire Retirement Sum. The CPF Board should not hold on to the sums of every person who turns 70 and dispense it in monthly portions over the next 23 years until the person turns 93.

According to SingStat, only about 30 per cent of Singapore residents are expected to be alive at 90. What merit is there, then, in not paying out the entire Retirement Sum at 70?

There should be a more compassionate and practical consideration of the payout age based on life expectancy and the needs and entitlements of individuals.

Policies should be user-friendly and flexible enough to change when necessary.

Ho Ting Fei (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2019, with the headline 'Make full CPF payout at age 70'. Print Edition | Subscribe