I thought the ST news report on the old lady and her CPF was quite confusing so I went to look at the original statement on whether she could have her CPF money back. I think it still needs “translating’’ so I’ll try to do it here.
Background: Ms Irene Yap, 76, a retired teacher went to a dialogue on the CPF with her MP Hri Kumar and started insisting on getting her CPF money back so she can prepare for her own funeral. It led to various questions on why a member of the pioneer generation was treated that way and added fuel to the charge that the G was hoarding CPF money.
The CPF Board and Dr Amy Khor released statements in response. Here it is – and the translation.
The CPF Board would like to take this opportunity to clarify that CPF members who meet the Minimum Sum requirement at age 55, including property pledge where applicable, can withdraw any amount in excess from their Ordinary and Special Accounts.
(Translate: The minimum is $155,000 from July 1 for those who turn 55 this year. If you have $155,000 in your Special Account, good for you because you can take everything out of your Ordinary Account. If not, you have to see if your two accounts make up $155,000, which will go into your Retirement Account).
(Now, you DON’T have to keep $155,000 in the Retirement Account. You can keep half, or $75,500, in it and use your property- which has an annual value – as a “pledge’’ for the rest)
(If you don’t have the $155,000 and you don’t have property, you are are still allowed to draw out a maximum of $5,000 at age 55.)
Such withdrawal can take place at 55 or anytime thereafter. Some CPF members are eligible to do so, but choose to leave their savings in their Ordinary and Special Accounts.
CPF members, on reaching their drawdown age, will receive a letter from the CPF Board informing them that they can apply to receive monthly payouts from their Retirement Account (RA).
(Translate: Note that the “drawdown age” for monthly payment is different from “withdrawal age’’ of 55. Right now, it is 65)
Our records indicate that we sent a letter to Ms Irene Yap four months before her drawdown age in 1998 to inform her that she can apply to receive monthly payouts from her RA. She was in contact with us subsequently to clarify some information.
(Translate: For those in Ms Yap’s cohort, the drawdown age would be 60. So she was contacted then about monthly pay-outs but according to Dr Amy Khor, she didn’t respond to CPF)
In 2012, we received a query from Ms Yap on her RA. We responded to her query via a letter and informed her that she can either commence her monthly payouts immediately, or withdraw her RA savings in a lump sum if she has a property to pledge.
(Translate: Ms Yap can withdraw EVERYTHING if she has a property to pledge – and it seems like she lives on private property. Now, this 100 per cent withdrawal only applies to her generation because the CPF rules then said that property can be used 100 per cent in lieu of minimum sum. So don’t get your hopes up if you are not of her vintage. The rules have changed since then. BTW, Dr Khor said the CPF Board didn’t hear from her then too)
The CPF Board is in contact with Ms Yap to help her withdraw her RA savings if she wishes to do so.
(My question then is: Why did the CPF not make an effort to contact her after 1998 when she didn’t respond to it on getting monthly payment? Or in 2012 when it didn’t hear from her after she queried? One wonders how many old people – Ms Yap is single – are in the same state. Maybe more effort should have been taken? Or would this be too much effort?)