Silver housing bonus for her greying years

Downgrading is sometimes a painful affair but retired nurse Choy Mui Leng reaped a $20,000 bonus when she switched from a Sengkang four-room flat to a Punggol three-roomer last May.

The cash windfall came from the Housing Board’s enhanced Silver Housing Bonus scheme.

It provides additional help to lower-income elderly households who downsize from a larger flat and use their net sale proceeds to enhance their retirement income.

“The cost of living here has become quite high, so we’re contented that the Government has given us some money to help with this,” said Madam Choy, 66.

The Government made the scheme more attractive last year by lowering the amount needed to top up an elderly person’s CPF retirement accounts. The average person need only put in $60,000, well down from the $278,000 it could have been previously.

There is also an all-cash bonus of $20,000. Initially, $15,000 was to be given in cash with the rest channelled into a homeowner’s CPF accounts, but the HDB revised their policy after taking into account public feedback.

Madam Choy opted to use all her cash bonus to top up her and her husband’s Medisave account.

“This way, the money will be used for something we really need later and not something frivolous,” she said. “Health is our priority.”

Living in a smaller flat has not been a problem for her and her 78-year-old retiree husband.

“When you’re old, you don’t need so much space,” she added, joking that “it is now much easier to clean”.

Madam Choy is not hoping for anything from next week’s Budget for herself, she would like the Government to allocate even more resources for the elderly.

The part-time nurse, who pays home visits to sick elderly twice a week in the Kampong Bahru area, said: “If we could somehow get more home care nurses for those living on their own, that would be great for the elderly in Singapore.”