No need to apply for Silver Support Scheme

Eligible Singaporeans will not need to apply for the Silver Support Scheme - for those aged 65 or older - when it is launched this year, as they will receive their quarterly cash payments automatically.

The scheme, to help cash- strapped retirees cope with living expenses, is the latest to join the growing list of financial help programmes in which recipients are automatically included.

The Silver Support Scheme was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally in August 2014.

When the law was passed to implement the scheme last August, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said in Parliament that about 150,000 Singaporeans will receive a quarterly payout of $300 to $750 this year.

Asked for an update this week, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), which is spearheading the scheme, would say only that the details are still being worked out.

But a spokesman disclosed that those who are eligible "will automatically receive payouts as long as they remain eligible".

"All eligible recipients will be notified in due course," she added.

MOM would not say when or how eligible recipients would be notified, but the spokesman said: "We are finalising the eligibility criteria and operational details of the Silver Support Scheme.

"More information on the scheme will be announced during Budget 2016."

Mr Lim had said in Parliament previously that the Government will consider factors such as lifetime wages, the level of household support and housing type to determine if a person qualifies.

The scheme is one of the most highly anticipated government programmes of the Budget, which will be unveiled next week.

During campaigning in the general election last September, PM Lee described the scheme as one that helps seniors to "have a pension in old age".

It is part of a broader package that includes the Pioneer Generation Package and Central Provident Fund top-ups to give seniors greater peace of mind in their golden years, Mr Lee had said.

Mr Patrick Tay, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, welcomed the auto-inclusion scheme.

"This will make it seamless for all who qualify," he said, adding: "There may be Singaporeans who may be unaware or fail to apply for it for a variety of reasons." He said there should be provisions for those who do not meet the criteria to be able to appeal.

Besides making it more effective to implement, the auto-inclusion scheme has other emotional and psychological benefits too, said Mr Seah Kian Peng, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development.

He said: "The seniors who are eligible for these schemes know they are being cared for by the Government. It adds to our quest to build a more caring and inclusive society."

This article was first published on March 18, 2016.
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