facebookWorried About Retirement? For Those Who Are Struggling, Here Are Some Help You Can Get




low income elderly singapore government subsidies available help charity

Worried About Retirement? For Those Who Are Struggling, Here Are Some Help You Can Get

profileRachel Yeo

If you’re following CPF Board’s social media accounts, you will realise the mantra “working hard for your golden years” being included in many visuals and social media postings.

In Singapore, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a compulsory comprehensive savings plan for Singaporeans to fund their retirement. While it provides a safety net for Singaporeans to have a stream of income when they retire, it may not be enough to tide a person through retirement, especially with some elderly Singaporeans falling through the cracks.

Source: CPF Board | Facebook

A few months ago, I was sitting in a swanky oriental-looking bar along Emerald Hill, having a beer with my ex-professor. At that time, we talked about retirement, and how a study found that retirees need a monthly income of at least $1,379- an amount experts recently recommended as necessary for a basic standard of living.

The study, which gathered people aged 55 and above in focus groups to talk about what they considered to be their basic standard of living, found that a single person aged 65 and above would need at least $1,379 a month.

Source: Giphy

In a survey commissioned by The Straits Times, 60% of retirees say that they have at least $1,370/mth to tide them through retirement, while 40% falls short from having that necessary amount for a basic standard of living.

As it turns out, working hard all your life does not mean you will have enough saved to enjoy your golden years– a distressing outcome brought to light by this Straits Times article.

In Singapore, the idea of poverty, or people struggling with low income, isn’t always expressed in the most overt of ways: there are few beggars on our sparkling clean streets, and those who are homeless only appear to sleep on the streets late into the night. Though mostly concealed to the public eye, there are many who struggle to make ends meet, even when they’re well into their golden years. 

TL;DR: What Kind Of Help Can You Get If You’re ‘Poor’?

For low-income elderly, there is quite an extensive range of support you can get both from the government and external organisations. While this may not be a complete solution to giving you a comfortable life, being aware of it may help close certain income gaps and improve your living conditions.

Government Subsidies Available For Low Income Elderly: 

  • Healthcare
    • Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
    • Medifund Silver 
  • Eldercare
    • Intermediate and Long Term Care Subsidies 
    • Eldershield
  • Work and Retirement 
    • Workfare Income Supplement 
  • Living Expenses 
    • GST Voucher 
    • Com-Care Long-Term Assistance 
    • Com Care Short and Medium Term Assistance 
  • Transport 
    • Senior Citizen Public Transport Concession Card 
  • Housing 
    • Lease Buyback Scheme 
    • Silver Housing Bonus 
    • HDB 2 Room Flexi Scheme 
  • Other Forms of Help/Benefits For Low Income Elderly 
    • Senior Home Care Services 
    • Meals On Wheels 
    • Bread Run 
    • Willing Hearts 
    • Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund 
    • Subsidised Homecare 

Government Schemes And Subsidies Available For Low-Income Elderly

Category Scheme/Subsidy Description Remarks
Healthcare Community Health Assist Scheme
Singaporeans from lower- and
middle-income households can get
subsidies for medical and dental
care at participating GP and dental
Apply through any public
hospital, polyclinic,
Community Centre (CC),
Community Development
Council (CDC), or

MOH: 1800-275-2427
Healthcare Medifund Silver

Medifund Silver is a subset of Medifund
Medifund is a safety net for
patients who face financial
difficulties with their remaining bills
after exhausting other resources.
Eldercare Intermediate and Long Term Care
(ILTC) subsidies
For Singaporean seniors who need
ILTC services, subsidies of up to
80% are provided for home care,
while subsidies of up to 75% are
provided for residential services
such as nursing homes.
Apply through any
Restructured Hospital or
MOH-funded ILTC service
Eldercare ElderShield ElderShield is an affordable severe
disability insurance scheme which
provides basic financial protection
to those who need long-term care,
especially during old age. It
provides a monthly cash payout to
help pay the out-of-pocket
expenses for the care of a severelydisabled person.
MOH: 6325-9220
Aviva: 6827-7788
Great Eastern: 1800- 248-
NTUC Income: 6332-1133
Work and Retirement Workfare Income SupplementEncourage older workers to continue working by supplementing their income through cash payments and CPF contributions CPF Board on behalf of MOM
[email protected]
Living Expenses GST Voucher GST Voucher helps offset the
GST expenses of lower- and middleincome Singaporean households. Can be taken in cash, MediSave or U-Save (rebate to offset utilities bills) )
Living Expenses ComCare Long-Term Assistance
(Public Assistance)
Singaporeans who are permanently
unable to work due to old age,
illness or unfavourable family
circumstances, can get financial
help if they have limited or no
means of income, and little or no
family support.
MSF or Social Services Offices
[email protected]
Living Expenses ComCare Short- and MediumTerm Assistance
Singaporeans who are unable to find
a job or work for a period of time can
get temporary financial help
MSF or Social Services Offices
[email protected]
Transport Senior Citizen Public Transport
Concession Card
Singaporeans aged 60 years and
above can get a concession card,
and pay subsidised rates for basic
bus and train services.
Transit Link
Apply through
Housing Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS)Seniors living in 4-room or smaller
flats can receive a stream of income
in their retirement years by selling
part of their flat lease to HDB. The
proceeds will be used to top up
their CPF Retirement Accounts.
Apply through:
Housing Silver Housing Bonus (SHB)Seniors from lower-income
households can supplement their
retirement income when they
move to a smaller flat.
Eligible elderly households will be
informed of the SHB when they buy
or sell a HDB flat.
Housing HDB 2-Room Flexi SchemeUnder the 2-room Flexi Scheme,
elderly citizens have the flexibility
of choosing the length of lease on
their 2-room flat, based on their
age, needs, and preferences.
[email protected]

Source: Ministry of Communications and Information 

Silver Support Scheme 

The Silver Support Scheme provides additional support for elderly Singaporeans who had low incomes through life and who now have little or no family support. There is no need to apply for Silver Support.

Who is it for

The Silver Support Scheme is targeted at the bottom 20% of Singaporeans aged 65 and above.

To be eligible for Silver Support, you must be a Singapore citizen aged 65 and above, and must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Total CPF contributions of not more than $70,000 by age 55. Self-employed persons should also have an average annual net trade income of not more than $22,800 when you were between the age of 45 and 54.
  • Live in an HDB flat that is 5-room or smaller.
  • Not own, and not have a spouse who owns, a 5-room or larger HDB flat or private property or multiple properties.
  • Live in a household with a monthly income per person of not more than $1,100.

Singaporeans will be automatically assessed for their eligibility to receive Silver Support payouts.

Eligible elderly will receive Silver Support according to the type of HDB flat that they live in:

Source: Ministry Of Manpower 

You can find out more about the Silver Support Scheme on the MOM website. 

Other Forms Of Benefits And Help For Low-Income Elderly 

1. Senior Home Care Services

Source: Silver Pages | Website

As we grow old, it comes with health problems that can be especially burdensome for those low-income Singaporean elderly. With Senior Home Care Services offered by a number of companies islandwide, senior citizens can avail of adequate support that ranges from home maintenance to medical escort and even physical rehabilitation. Some of the reputable home care agencies include NTUC’s Care@home, Homage, and Tetsuyu Home Care.

2. Meals On Wheels – TOUCH Community Service

Source: TOUCH Community Services | Website

Frail and home-bound elderly can subscribe to Meals On Wheels– a meal delivery programme to meet the daily needs of the home-bound elderly. For the cost of just $2.50 a meal, the elderly can request for nutrition-packed meals that caters to those with specific dietary requirements.

To qualify, seniors must be 60 years or older, with a total household income of less than $1,500 per month or less than $450 per capita (per person per household).

For those who would like to volunteer with them, do check out their website.

3. Bread Run – Food From The Heart

Source: Food From Heart | Website

The Bread Run program was initiated with an aim to feed the needy with safe-for-consumption bread that would otherwise been thrown away.

Here’s how it works:

Food from the Heart partners with more than 100 bakeries, and collect bread that has served its commercial time on the shelves. These excess bread are collected, packed, picked up and donated to low-income, needy or homeless individuals. Bread is usually consumed during breakfast and tea break at welfare homes, or re-packed and given out as rations to individual families.

For those who would require the provision of bread, you can indicate your interest on this form.

Interested volunteers can also indicate their interest on their form.

4. Willing Hearts

Source: The Online Citizen

Willing Hearts operates a soup kitchen that prepares, cooks and distributes about 5,000 daily meals to over 40 locations island-wide, 365 days a year.

In addition, Willing Hearts extends the following services to its beneficiaries:
– Dental Care
– Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments
– Optical Care
– Legal Aid
– Tuition Services for needy Primary school-going children
– Bereavement Services

For low-income individuals with are in need of such services, you can contact them via this website.

5. Senior Mobility and Enabling Fund

Source: TODAYonline

The Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) provides holistic support for seniors to age in place within the community by extending subsidies to Singaporean seniors:

  • Requiring mobility and assistive devices for daily independent living and to remain ambulant in the community
  • Receiving government funded home care and care within the community, needing home healthcare items for their care

This scheme gives you access to assistive devices and home healthcare items at a subsidised rate.

Assistive Devices 

  • Refers to items that help an elderly person move around, such as walking stick, wheelchair and pushchair.
  • It also includes things that an elderly person may need at home, such as commode, pressure relief cushion and hospital bed as well as spectacles and hearing aids.

These subsidies are provided through application only. Reimbursement for any purchase prior to an approved application is strictly not allowed.

Application for each device category is only once per lifetime. Repeat application for the same device category is not allowed.
Home Healthcare Items
Frail seniors who can stay in nursing homes but choose to stay at home and be supported by home healthcare services in their community can get subsidies for the cost of catheters, milk supplements, thickeners, adult diapers, nasal tubing and wound dressings.
Home Healthcare Items1. You must be a Singapore citizen aged 60 and older.
2. Your household monthly income per person must be $2,000 and below. For households with no income, the 2. Annual Value (AV) of residence on your NRIC must be $13,000 and below.
3. You must be receiving one of the following services: home nursing, home medical, home palliative services, Integrated Home & Day Care (IHDC) packages.
4. You must undergo assessment to determine your needs and type of healthcare items required.
5. You must not be already receiving subsidies for the same items.
Assistive Devices1. You must be a Singapore citizen aged 60 and older.
2. Your household monthly income per person must be $2,000 and below OR Annual Value (AV) of residence reflected on NRIC of $13,000 and below for households with no income.
3. You must not reside in a nursing home.
4. You must be assessed by a qualified assessor
5. This must be the first time you are making claims for the device category.
6. Motorised devices – additional criteria
You must not have a full time caregiver or the caregiver is frail and not able to support the care needs
You must not have the ability to use a manual wheelchair independently
You must be mentally and physically able to safely use the motorised device
How To Apply For SMF
  • Approach the therapist or social worker to assist you in your application for SMF Ass​istive Devices if you are under the care of any hospitals, rehabilitation centre or senior care centre. 
  • If you need to apply SMF subsidy for hearing aids and are not currently under the care of any hospital:
    • You may obtain a referral letter from a polyclinic or CHAS GP for a subsidised hearing assessment at the public hospital. The audiologist will assess and assist with your SMF application.
1. Download the following application form, or get a copy from any AIC Link​

2. ​​​​​Submit the following documents to apply for subsidy

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of Applicant’s NRIC (front and back)
  • Copies of medical reports, if available (e.g. Discharge summary, doctor’ memo describing applicant’s medical condition)
  • Copies of financial assistance documents, if available (e.g. Public Assistance Card, Medifund, Medical Fee Exemption Card or MSF ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance)
3. Send the above documents to AIC at the following address: 
Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF)
No. 7 Maxwell Road
#04-01 MND Complex Annex B
Singapore 069111
You can find out more on their website: Agency Of Integrated Care.

6. Subsidised Home Care – Active Global Caregivers 

Active Global Caregivers provides affordable home personal care from $3.20/hr (subsidised rate), as well as other services including home nursing, medical and therapy, to help support frail and home bound elderly who need assistance with their daily activities.

Home Personal Care Service includes assistance with medication, performing simple maintenance exercises, personal hygiene, nd elder-sitting for low -income elderly in need of such services. 

To find out more about their extensive range of services, you can check out this brochure, or their website

Helping The Low-Income Elderly Population In Singapore

At the end of the day, everyone’s situation is a little different, and many may fall through the cracks when it comes to obtaining help from schemes and subsidies. If you are aware of any schemes, charities, or government subsidies that will help this group of individuals, do help us expand this list by leaving a comment below. 

 If you have any specific questions regarding this, feel free to leave a question on our Seedly Q&A. Here’s another food for thought you can consider: 

Seedly Discussion: How Can Asset-Rich But Cash Poor Elderly Seek Financial Help?


About Rachel Yeo
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