On 22 November (Friday), the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board took to its Facebook to reveal that the 56-year-old heart patient who requested to withdraw his CPF fund on medical grounds is actually certified by three doctors to be “suitable for jobs that do not require physical exertion”.
In 2015, Sim Kay Chuan was diagnosed with heart problems and underwent an operation two years ago, leaving his heart’s left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) at 37% performance. The normal LVEF for an individual ranges from 55% to 70%.
Due to his condition, he always feels weak, and the medicine that he takes to lower his blood pressure makes him susceptible to fainting spells even when walking.
Mr Sim has since exhausted his savings as he is unable to work due to his medical condition for the past two years. That’s why he applied to withdraw his CPF to ease his family expenses.
However, the authorities refused his application on the grounds that he did not qualify four conditions.
According to the official website of the CPF Board, in order to apply to withdraw some of your CPF savings on medical grounds, they need to certify that you:
- are physically or mentally incapacitated from ever continuing in any employment; or
- have a severely impaired life expectancy; or
- lack capacity within the meaning of Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the lack of capacity is likely to be permanent; or
- are terminally ill.
In CPF Board’s letter to Mr Sim in August this year, they said that after checking with the doctor, Mr Sim is “not physically incapacitated from ever continuing in any employment” (emphasis our), and therefore they are unable to process his application to withdraw his CPF Retirement sum of around S$18,000.
In Friday’s post, CPF Board stated Mr Sim’s own doctor made two separate assessments, and certified him “not unfit for employment and is suitable for jobs that do not require exertion”.
Additionally, the Board also engaged two of its own doctors to look through his condition, and “both shared the same assessment as Mr Sim’s own doctor that his medical condition did not meet the criteria for withdrawal on medical grounds”, the Board said.
“National Heart Centre Singapore will reach out to Mr Sim regarding his outstanding bills, and application for financial assistance if needed. We are also aware that local community partners are assisting him,” the authorities pointed out.
They added, “We will continue to work with relevant agencies to assist Mr Sim”.
In a previous TOC article, Mr Sim stated that in the two years since his operation, he has tried applying for work but failed to secure any employment due to his medical condition. He could not take up jobs such as private hire driver either because of his tendency to feel giddy and possible lose consciousness.
Currently, his wife is the sole breadwinner. She works as a welfare coordinator and earns a take-home pay of S$1,800.
To make things worse, the Social Service Office (SSO) also rejected his application for financial assistance on the basis that his wife was still working with a stable income. It wrote, “after careful consideration, we assessed that your family is able to support its basic living expenses.”
Upon reading CPF Board’s response on Friday, many netizens slammed the Board in the comment section of the post. Highlighting their pity for Mr Sim, some online users pointed out that it’s difficult to find a job when you have medical condition as most employers are reluctant to hire you.
Zen Rogue Xuan said, “Employers do require a health declaration when interviewing for a job. HR would think twice before employing people with such medical conditions as it could worsen.”
Some stated that CPF Board’s respond is “cold hearted” and their post also lacks compassion. “You really need to reconsider your strategy,” wrote Kenneth Lee.
On the other hand, a large group of online users also slammed CPF Board as they said that it’s the citizens’ choice on how they want to use their own hard-earned money. They added that this this is not whether Mr Sim is fit to work or not, but rather on how he wish to spend his own CPF fund.
Haz Sah said: “Why can’t CPF just return back our money. Let us handle our own money. If they’re scared we splurge on it, what they need is to just make an agreement. Once finish, they cannot ask the Govt for help. Is that so hard?”
However, a few of them penned their support towards CPF Board for helping to “put things in context”. Tan Ah Chuan said that a lot of people are complaining without knowing the full picture, so it’s good that CPF has “set things straight”.