Can You Retire Using CPF Life?

Having enough financial resources to retire comfortably has always been a major concern for those of us who intend to retire in Singapore, especially when it was named as one of the most expensive places to live in according to Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living 2021 index.

As most Singaporeans rely on our Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to fund our retirement, you might be curious whether your CPF savings alone is sufficient to support your desired retirement lifestyle.

CPF LIFE

Today, we take a look at the CPF Lifelong Income For the Elderly (CPF LIFE) to explore how it works and whether it is sufficient to fund our retirement in Singapore.

CPF LIFE is a national annuity scheme that provides CPF members with a monthly retirement income no matter how long he/she live, ensuring some level of financial security for old age.

How Much Do We Need To Retire?

According to a study published by the Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in 2021, a retiree needs a minimum of S$1,421 monthly for living expenses.

Assuming we are spending this amount for living expenses for a stretch of 20 years from age 65 (the average life expectancy in Singapore is 83.9 years, according to the latest figures released by Singapore Department of Statistics in 2021), we would need a whopping S$341,040 (without taking inflation into consideration) in order to have a basic retirement lifestyle.

If we factor in the average Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 2% pa, we may have to save up at least S$500,000 to retire in Singapore. That is a huge amount to plan for in most cases. Therefore, it is important for us to plan early for retirement.

Retirement Sum Scheme

With the Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS), a different CPF retirement scheme, every CPF member will have to set aside at least the prevailing Full Retirement Sum (2022: S$192,000) when they reach the age of 55. In the event that we want to pledge our home, we would just need to set aside the prevailing Basic Retirement Sum (2022: S$96,000). This amount will be placed under CPF LIFE at the age of 65.

If you can secure a private annuity plan which can provide the same payout or more, you can choose to opt out from CPF LIFE, subjected to the CPF Board’s approval.

Expected Monthly Payout

As long as you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident; born in 1958 or after; and have at least $60,000 in your Retirement Account (RA) before you turn 65 of age, you will be automatically included in CPF LIFE.

The table below shows the expected monthly payouts based on the amount of savings you have accumulated in your Retirement Account:

Desired Monthly Payout from 65CPF LIFE Premium at 65
(Savings You Need at 65)
Savings You Need at 55
$350 – $370$60,000$36,000
$770 – $830$145,000$96,000
$1,450 – $1,550$285,000$192,000
$2,120 – $2,280$425,000$288,000

Note: These monthly payouts are estimates based on the CPF LIFE Standard Plan for members who turn 65 in 2032, computed as of 2022. Payouts may be adjusted to account for long-term changes in interest rates or life expectancy. Such adjustments (if any) are expected to be small and gradual.

CPF LIFE Plans

When you are ready to start the monthly payouts, there are 3 different plans you can choose from. If you are automatically enrolled in CPF LIFE and have not selected a CPF LIFE plan by age 70, you will be placed on the CPF LIFE Standard Plan and your payouts will automatically start at age 70. The following table explains the 3 different plans:

PlanFeaturesSuitable for
Standard (Default)Level and Higher PayoutsRetirees who wish to receive higher monthly payouts
BasicLevel and Lower PayoutsRetirees who wish to leave more CPF savings to beneficiaries
EscalatingIncreasing payouts at 2% every yearRetirees who are concerned with higher living costs over time

Conclusion

Some of us may be concerned that the monthly payouts may not be sufficient to provide for our retirement lifestyles. Here are some actions you can consider to increase your CPF LIFE payouts.

  1. Do cash top-ups and/or CPF transfer into your Retirement Account.
  2. Monetise your existing property to unlock the value so that there will be top-ups through the Silver Housing Bonus scheme or the Lease Buyback Scheme into your Retirement Account.

If you are still concerned with the inadequacy of your retirement planning, you can consider doing some investment through the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) or Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) to boost up your overall retirement nest egg.

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MoneyGrowth

MoneyGrowth

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