CPF rules to be made simpler and will be smoothly implemented: Tan See Leng

There is no change to the CPF withdrawal or payout age. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - Central Provident Fund (CPF) rules will continue to be simplified, with the CPF Board ensuring that they are smoothly implemented for members, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 2).

He also reiterated that there is no change to the CPF withdrawal or payout age, in response to questions from MPs.

Dr Tan said: "We will continue to simplify rules and improve communications to CPF members.

"Beyond simplifying policies and streamlining processes, the CPF Board will also continue to strengthen its public education and outreach efforts."

These include educating members on the benefits of topping up their own account, as well as those of their loved ones, and clarifying the treatment of CPF monies upon members' death.

Dr Tan said CPF members will also be nudged to nominate beneficiaries, while making clear that such nominations are revoked upon marriage.

He added that the Government will explore the suggestion by Ms Hany Soh (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) to send divorcees a notification to review their nominations.

The changes to the CPF Act will not impact the rules for CPF lumpsum withdrawals or other social support schemes, such as Silver Support, Dr Tan reiterated.

The Silver Support Scheme provides additional help to seniors who had low incomes during their working years and now have less retirement savings.

He also responded to Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) and Nominated MP Abdul Samad, who suggested allowing people to start CPF payouts earlier than the current payout eligibility age of 65.

"Let me reassure everyone, the Government has not suggested changing the payout eligibility age. The payout eligibility age is not linked to the retirement or re-employment age," Dr Tan said.

"The current payout eligibility age of 65 strikes a balance between timely access to retirement income, and provides sufficient runway for members to build up savings for retirement, especially as Singaporeans are expected to live longer.

"Members continue to have the option to defer payouts for higher monthly payouts."

People will continue to have the flexibility to make lumpsum withdrawals from age 55, years before they start their CPF monthly payouts, he added.

He noted that the changes are mostly to simplify the CPF Act, and not alter the underlying policies.

Some MPs had sought clarification on a section that said withdrawals can be made by members suffering from significant conditions, and asked what those conditions are.

Dr Tan replied that they include auto-immune or neurological diseases.

If CPF members are certified by a doctor as having a reduced life expectancy, being permanently unfit to work, or lacking mental capacity, they can withdraw their CPF savings earlier.

The CPF Board also has plans to continue to streamline the disbursement process for nominated CPF money after a member dies, he said.

The board already reaches out to nominees, including those overseas, and disburses the money within a month, having allowed time for medical institutions to deduct any medical bills from the person's MediSave Account.

Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong also responded to MPs' questions on the new beneficiary representative approach, which will simplify the process of disbursing the un-nominated CPF money of a family member who has died.

The new approach is expected to be implemented by the second quarter of 2022.

Mr Tong said there are safeguards in place when it comes to a beneficiary representative accessing un-nominated CPF money after someone has died.

Eligible beneficiaries can decide if they want to appoint a single person to be the beneficiary representative to receive the un-nominated CPF monies on their behalf, to be distributed to them later.

If they cannot agree on a representative, the Public Trustee's Office will distribute the un-nominated CPF money directly to each of the beneficiaries according to the prevailing intestacy or Muslim inheritance laws, Mr Tong said.

Safeguards include the Public Trustee's Office confirming with eligible beneficiaries that they have given consent for the single representative to receive the money, and verifying their details against existing records.

The specified limit for this beneficiary representative approach will be $10,000, Mr Tong added.

Those overseas will also be contacted and payment disbursed electronically.

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