MSF responds but fails to address core issue – why is CPF considered an income?

The Ministry of Social and Family (MSF) Development has responded to the issue of a visually handicapped senior who was denied social assistance due to his CPF payout, which was published in TOC on 13 June.

In the response, MSF said that the Social Service Office (SSO) made an assessment of the resident's needs.

"To determine how much further assistance he required, the SSO considered his sources of income, money received and support provided by family, friends and the community."

The MSF confirmed that the rental of his flat and conservancy was being paid by a Buddhist temple, as stated in the post made by Jose Raymond.

What was also confirmed was that the resident's kidney dialysis charges are fully covered by National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and that his taxi trips to the dialysis centre are fully subsidised by an NKF taxi card.

This only means that his other transportation needs are not looked after and he would require money for transportation on other days. The MSF also added that the SSO is working with NKF to assess "whether he needs more support when he travels to and from his dialysis appointments."

The MSF also said that the resident receives full subsidy for his medical treatment at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), a point acknowledged by Mr Jose in his post.

The MSF added that TOUCH Home Care provides him 2 daily meals, under MOH’s programme, which are delivered to his home every day, a point which is disputed

In point 8 of their response, the MSF said that the resident receives monthly payouts of $620 a month from his CPF Retirement Account, which is sufficient for around 3 years.

The MSF added that the resident receives an additional $550 a month from a close friend who lives overseas. This is now being disputed by Mr Andrew Ong, a friend of the resident who said that the money was not monthly but sporadic. It is also used for three residents, all of whom are blind.

In a response on the MSF Facebook post, Mr Ong said: "On point 10, the $550 is not a monthly nor frequent giving. I’m unsure how this was concluded in the interview. It’s from a well-wisher who stepped in to help. It’s sporadic and unsustainable assistance."

"In addition, it’s not for Mr T alone, but help rendered to the other two tenants who are visually handicapped. This is a fact you failed to indicate in your above response," added Mr Ong.

In response to MSF's post, Mr Jose Raymond said that the MSF has not responded to the core issue. "Why is one's CPF being treated as income when it assesses social assistance needs, which was stated in its rejection letter?"

In addition, the MSF states that the resident receives "$550 a month" from a friend.

"This is not true, according to the resident, and the people who have been helping him. The amount given is sporadic and not on a monthly basis. Also it is meant to look after three people's needs, not just the resident in question. Apart from the resident, the other two residents are blind and are not able to work."

Mr Jose ended by saying that he was "glad that the SSO has said that it will "reassess the needs of the residents" but should actually be doing so now, so it gets a much clearer picture of issues involving the poor and the under-privileged."

While Wong Yun Feng Marco commented that the story is a matter of how the Singapore government views CPF,

"So income becomes payout. Actually, its not even payout. Nobody is paying anyone, he is drawing down on, and depleting, his hard earned savings to sustain himself.
This is less about not about the assessment of social benefits. But how the gov views CPF."