Majority of Silver Support appeals still pending

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board has received about 2,300 appeals from members to be included under the Silver Support Scheme since July, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday.

Mr Lim told Parliament that some cases had been approved because the seniors' circumstances had changed in the past 15 months and they now qualified for the scheme, which provides quarterly payouts for low-income seniors. The first payouts were in July this year.

Some cases where seniors narrowly failed to fulfil one of the three criteria - lifetime wages or CPF contributions, housing type and level of financial support in the household - but met the others by a big margin were also approved on a case-by-case basis.

Other cases were rejected because the seniors were far from meeting the criteria, while the majority of appeals are still pending additional information and documents from the seniors so they can be reassessed, said Mr Lim.

"Seniors who do not qualify for Silver Support but require financial assistance can approach any Social Service Office for help," he said, in response to questions from Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) and Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson).

The minister said the scheme is part of a three-tier system to help seniors with varying levels of need.

The first tier covers all seniors and includes MediShield Life, concession cards and foreign domestic worker levy concessions.

The second tier, for the majority of seniors, includes the GST Voucher and Lease Buyback schemes.

Silver Support, along with ComCare, Medifund and others, is in the third tier - for a minority of seniors who need even more support.

The first Silver Support payout in July covered about 140,000 citizens aged 65 and above, or three in 10 of those in that age group.

About two-thirds of seniors met the first criterion of total CPF contributions of $70,000 or less when they turned 55, said the minister.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan and Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) also sought flexibility on the per capita household income criterion, which must be not more than $1,100 a month.

Mr Lim Swee Say said that in marginal cases where the household size is small - for example, a mother with her son who earns $2,500, exceeding the qualifying per capita cap - the ministry would assess the situation "from a total perspective".

He said, in response to Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang), that while eligibility for the scheme is reviewed annually, seniors can request a review any time during the year. If they are eligible, they will qualify for support from the date of appeal.

The review for 2017 will be completed in November this year and those who qualify for Silver Support will receive letters of notification by December.

This article was first published on September 14, 2016.
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