There are no plans to lower the payout eligibility age for Central Provident Fund (CPF) members, which is set at 65 now, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday.
The age had been raised from 62 in 2007 "to ensure that Singaporeans, who are living longer, are able to set aside enough CPF savings to meet their retirement needs", she added in a written response to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC), who had asked if the Ministry of Manpower would consider lowering the CPF payout age to the retirement age of 62.
With re-employment laws, more than 98 per cent of local, private-sector workers reaching the age of 62 who wish to continue working are offered re-employment, said Mrs Teo.
"A similarly high proportion - 97.5 per cent - among those reaching the age of 65 were offered re-employment," she added.
But in response to another question by Ms Lee, on whether exceptions can be made to grant an early withdrawal or payout of funds if a CPF member has no choice but to retire early, Mrs Teo said this is handled on a case-by-case basis.
"Members who have stopped working because they are terminally ill or permanently incapacitated can approach CPF Board for early withdrawals of their CPF monies," said Mrs Teo.
"The CPF Board will carefully consider their appeals and approve those with valid medical grounds."
The important thing is to ensure that people have enough to live on in their retirement, she said.
"From the age of 55, members can withdraw their CPF savings above the Basic Retirement Sum if they have made a sufficient property pledge," she said. "It would not be in the member's interest to further deplete his retirement savings through additional early withdrawals."
Pledging a property means that if the property is sold or transferred, the pledged amount is refunded to the member's Retirement Account to meet his Full Retirement Sum.
Mrs Teo's responses come as the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers has been tasked to look into whether changes are needed in the retirement age of 62 and the re-employment age of up to 67.
It will also relook the impact of CPF contribution rates on retirement adequacy of older workers, and is expected to share some initial findings by the time Parliament debates the budgets of each ministry at the Committee of Supply debates next year.