Sports advocate and politician, Jose Raymond shared a story of a 59-year-old male Singapore who is both visually handicapped and has kidney failure who has had his application for long-term financial assistance rejected by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
The reason for MSF to reject the application is said to be due to the monthly pay-out that the blind senior receives from his Central Provident Fund (CPF) owing to his medical condition.
Mr Raymond, a member of the Singapore’s People Party (SPP) wrote, "All because he receives a $620 monthly payout from his own CPF Retirement Account, which is higher than the prevailing rate of Public Assistance which is $500 for an individual." and asked, "What is the policy rationale behind this?"
He notes in his Facebook post that an individual who earns less than $650 a month qualifies for assistance.
"The resident cannot work because of his medical condition and finds the $620 a month he gets from his own CPF a real stretch. Who wouldn't?" asks Mr Raymond.
The senior who has been declared medically unfit to work since 2011, has been having rental for his one-room Toa Payoh flat paid for by a temple and a free meal a day delivered over to his squalid home. As for his other two meals, the senior pays from his own pocket.
Samaritans also help him sporadically with groceries and appeals with agencies.
Thankfully, the full cost of for his dialysis treatment is covered by Ministry of Health and National Kidney medical subsidies. But he still has to pay for his transportation expenses and utility bills.
TOC understands that the senior received a short-term assistance from People's Action Party Member of Parliament, Saktiadi when Mr Raymond brought him to see him at the start of the year.
Mr Raymond notes that the 59-year old does not have any children, or family members whom he can rely on and lost contact with his only brother decades ago.
Such rejection is not uncommon, as MSF deems any applicant with a source of income as being self-sufficient.
Take for an example, TOC covered a story in 2014 where a 53 years old and divorced lady was told that the S$500 she gets from her alimony fees should be enough for her to survive.
In another case, a senior living in a rental flat with his wife who has his arm amputated due to an accident, was denied social assistance because he is receiving insurance payout due to his loss of limb. But as the amount is not enough, the wife has to go pick up cardboards to fend for the two.
"The MSF needs to explain its rationale for using the prevailing Public Assistance rate for rejecting someone like the resident above, who is visually handicapped and who cannot earn any other income because of his medical condition." wrote Mr Raymond and added, "Our citizens need to lead dignified lives."