Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the media report “172 file for parent maintenance in last 12 months” (CNA, Aug 19) about the increase in applications to the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents (TMP) by more than 70 per cent to 172 in the previous 12 months to July, compared to an average of 100 in previous years.

The number of enquires to the TMP has also increased to more than 160 in the first five months of the year, as well as the number of unsuccessful applications to 16 in the past 12 months.

One of the possible contributing factors to the increase, may be the mis-match between the minimum age that parents can apply to the TMP and the CPF annuity withdrawal age.

When the TMP was implemented in 1995, I understand that the minimum age for parents to apply was set at 60, to co-incide with the then CPF annuity withdrawal age of 60.

Now that the CPF annuity withdrawal age has been extended to 62, 63, 64, and eventually to 65 under CPF Life, parents who may have difficulty obtaining gainful employment before their CPF annuity withdrawal starts, may be more likely to apply from age 60.

Therefore, I would like to suggest that the TMP minimum application age be aligned to the CPF annuity withdrawal age.

After all, the TMP already has provision for parents below age 60 with a disability or illness preventing them from working, to apply.

I would also like to suggest that the TMP takes into account any expected future CPF payouts, in the mediation process, as well as the order for maintenance.

The current procedure for the children to apply for a review of the maintenance order, may be difficult, as they may not have access to information regarding their parent’s future CPF withdrawals.

Another contributing factor that may increase the number of TMP applications, may be the phasing out of the 50 per cent CPF withdrawal rule. In this regard, from 2013, CPF account holders with less than $203,000 ($161,000 CPF Minimum Sum plus $42,000 CPF Medisave Minimum Sum, at their current estimated rate of increase), may only be able to withdraw $5,000 at age 55.

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