facebookI'm A Singaporean Millennial: How Much CPF Do I Need To Retire?


I'm A Singaporean Millennial: How Much CPF Do I Need To Retire?

profileXue Miao

I was recently looking through my parents’ finances as part of their year-end finances review.

Being the one who is oddly interested in numbers and all things finance, I was the appointed kid to advise on their upcoming retirement plans.

Source: Brown Owl Post

Which led us to look through the CPF Retirement Schemes.

We were considering the options between the different retirement sums.

And we came across the current retirement sum figures which looked like this…

Retirement Sums for Members Reaching Age 55 from 2020 to 2022
Basic Retirement Sum (BRS)$90,500 $93,000 $96,000
Full Retirement Sum (FRS)$181,000$186,000$192,000
Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS)$271,500$279,000$288,000

I can’t help but wonder how it would be like when it is my turn to turn 55 years old.

TL;DR: How Much Do I Need in My CPF as a Millennial When I Turn 55 Years Old?

Long story short, as a 27-year-old in 2020, you need about $414,115 for the Full Retirement Sum before you can withdraw the excess money.

Or about $207,057 for the Basic Retirement Sum if you own a property in Singapore, before withdrawing from you Retirement Account savings.

How Has the CPF Retirement Sums Increased Over the Years?

Source: Moneysense

The Minimum Sum Scheme (MSS) was first introduced in 1987, in a bid to ensure that Singaporeans would not squander their savings and would still have money for their retirement.

This scheme specified that there is a minimum amount in the CPF account when members reach their retirement age.

Back then, the minimum sum required was $30,000 and monthly payouts were around $230 once the member turned 60 years old, and would last for about 20 years.

Due to longer life expectancy these days, the old MSS has been replaced by CPF LIFE to cater to these retirement needs.

Here’s a quick view of how the minimum sum has changed over the years:

YearRetirement Sum
1986Minimum sum scheme announced by Lee Yoke Suan
1987$30,000 - could be fully covered by a property pledge
1989$30,900 - minimum sum starts to be adjusted yearly for inflation (Minister Lee Yoke Suan, in reply to MP Charles Chong)
1994Minister Lee Boon Yang announces changes to CPF, Minimum Sum to be raised to $40,000 in 1995 and by $5000 each year up to $80,000 in 2003. After 2003, increase will be pegged to inflation).
1995$40,000 - Now only 50% can be covered by property pledge (announced in 1994, Lee Boon Yang)
2002$75,000 (Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces that Minimum Sum will be raised beyond 80k in 2004, by an amount yet to be decided)
2004$84,500 (+$4,500)
2005$90,000 (+$5,500)
2006$94,600 (+$4,600)
2007$99,600 (+$5,000)
2008$106,000 (+$6,400)
2009$117,000 (+$11,000)
2010$123,000 (+$6,000)
2011$131,​000 (+$8,000)
2012$139,000 (+$8,000)
2013$148,000 (+$9,000)
2014$155,000 (+$7,000)
2015$161,000 (+$6,000)
2016$161,000 (no change because date of change of minimum sum changed from July to January)
2017$166,000 (+$5,000)
2018$171,000 (+$5,000)
2019$176,000 (+$5,000)
2020$181,000 (+$5,000)
2021$186,000 (+$5,000)
2022$192,000 (+$6,000)

In order to cater to long-term inflation and improvements in the standard of living, the minimum sum is expected to increase by about 3% from the cohort in the previous year.

The payout eligibility age was also adjusted along the years in view of the increase in life expectancy as well.

1987Monthly payouts can start from 60
1999raised to 62 
2012raised to 63 
2015raised to 64
2018raised to 65

From Jan 2018, CPF members could ‘opt-in’ for retirement payouts to begin at 65.

If there were no application submitted, he/she will receive payouts at 70 years old instead.

If a later payout age is chosen (e.g. at 70 years old), these CPF savings will continue to enjoy 6% per annum interest in the account.

How Would the CPF Minimum Sums Be Like for Us Millennials?

Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | Giphy

For the uninitiated, the CPF Full Retirement Sum (FRS) is set at two times of the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS).

And the Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS) is three times of the BRS.

Based on a projected 3% increase per annum, here’s how much we might potentially need in our CPF accounts before we can withdraw the excess funds when we turn 55 years old.

55th Birthday inBasic Retirement Sum
Percentage IncreaseFull Retirement Sum
Percentage IncreaseEnhanced Retirement Sum
(3 x BRS)
2021$93,0002.76%$186,000 2.76%$279,000
2023$98,880Projected 3% Increase p.a.$197,760Projected 3% Increase p.a.$296,640

For a 27-year-old in 2020, we would need approximately $414,115 in our FRS.

Given that the CPF LIFE calculator can only be used for people born in 1981 or earlier (for greater accuracy), if I were able to have that amount when I turn 55 years old, I would be able to get $2,831 – $3,148 on the Standard Plan.

This is a very vague gauge given how I’m about 12 years away from the calculator… but you get the drift.

Will We Ever Get There?

Now, this sum doesn’t seem small at all.

It’s almost half a million.

While it seems like a lot of money now, fret not.

During the Budget 2020 announcement, it was mentioned that about 70% of those turning 55 in 2021 and 2022 are expected to be able to set aside their BRS.

This is a huge increase as compared to about 40% of those who turned 55 in 2010.

If you’re able to start early and maximise your CPF account at the earlier stage, there’s a high possibility that this amount can be attained through the wonders of compound interest.

What Can I Do Now?

While our CPF accounts are great as a part of our retirement nest egg, I personally would not prefer solely depending on it as my retirement fund.

With the intimidating amounts required for retirement along with the rising costs of living, it’s always good to have more as our retirement buffer.

Especially if you would like to look into early retirement, and how we could only start withdrawing it as a monthly payout from 65 years old onwards.

Since CPF is an involuntary savings scheme that would provide us with our basic retirement income, I would still aim to maximise it to form my retirement safety net.

Meanwhile, I would aim to increase my income streams and focus on areas like investing and growing my own savings.

And of course, learn as much as I can from the real pros while I am still (relatively) young.


About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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