There are some uniquely Singaporean milestones in life: Getting back your pink IC after completing national service, collecting the keys to your BTO flat, and of course, that sweet age of 55 when you can withdraw your hard-earned CPF money.
If you’re nearing this moment in life, there are probably more than a few questions in mind, such as:
When can I withdraw my CPF?
How much of my CPF funds can I withdraw?
How can I withdraw my CPF funds?
We’re here to provide you with the answers.
When you hit 55, you can make a lump-sum withdrawal of a portion of your CPF. The rest is kept in CPF so that you can buy into the CPF LIFE national annuity scheme at 65. 65 is also the age when you get monthly payouts from CPF LIFE.
So just remember:
55 is when you can withdraw a lump sum
65 is when you start getting monthly payouts
And rest assured, your 55th birthday is NOT the only day where you have a window of opportunity to make that lump sum withdrawal. Withdrawal can happen any time once you hit 55, and you can withdraw as many times as you wish (until you exhaust the portion that is not set aside for CPF LIFE).
If you're thinking about withdrawing your CPF, just make sure you read this first.
The answer to this question depends on how much you have in your Ordinary Account (OA) and Special Account (SA).
If you have:
You can withdraw all your CPF savings.
The Full Retirement Sum, or FRS, is the amount you have to set aside to buy into CPF LIFE. It stands at $186,000 SGD now but is adjusted every year to account for inflation.
If you have between $5,000 SGD and the FRS, you can withdraw $5,000 SGD.
If you own property with a remaining lease that can last until you're at least 95 years old, you can also withdraw any amount above the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS). The BRS is half of the FRS and stands at $93,000 SGD.
For instance, say you have $120,000 SGD of combined savings in your OA and SA. This amount is between $5,000 SGD and the FRS of $186,000 SGD. Hence, you can withdraw $5,000 SGD. But if you own property, you can withdraw $27,000 SGD. That’s calculated by $120,000 SGD (your savings) – $93,000 SGD (the BRS).
You can withdraw $5,000 SGD or all the savings above your FRS, whichever is higher.
For example, if you have $200,000 SGD combined savings in your OA and SA, you can withdraw $14,000 SGD. That’s calculated by $200,000 SGD (your savings) – $186,000 (the FRS).
Similarly, if you own property with a remaining lease that can last until you're at least 95, you can withdraw any amount above the BRS of $93,000 SGD. So, in this case, you can withdraw $107,000 SGD. That’s calculated by $200,000 SGD (your savings) – $93,000 SGD (the BRS).
Again, the FRS of $186,000 SGD and BRS of $93,000 SGD are the prevailing rates as of 2021. The amount is adjusted every year to account for inflation.
If you have a bank account with one of the 3 local banks, you can apply to withdraw using SingPass. The CPF savings can even be received through PayNow. The payment option will be made available to you on your 55th birthday. This digital option is more convenient, and you'll receive your funds faster.
Alternatively, you can submit a hardcopy application by completing the relevant forms available on the CPF website.
You should view CPF funds as a supplement to your retirement income instead of the only source. If you have no pressing need for the money, you can leave it in CPF to continue enjoying a risk-free interest rate of at least 2.5%.
This sure beats withdrawing your funds and then leaving them in your regular savings account at a bank. But, of course, you can always make a withdrawal later if you realise you do need the money after all.
In our article on the CPF retirement sum, we mentioned that it's important to hit the FRS. Why? The FRS ensures a stable monthly payout during a period of our lives when we have less time to ride out any short-term volatility in investment performance.
In other words, if we don’t hit the FRS, we're putting more pressure on other, more volatile assets to provide for our living expenses. That leads to us taking on more risk at a life stage where we should be lowering our risk appetite.
That's why we don't recommend leaving only the BRS for CPF LIFE and withdrawing the rest, even if that option is available to you.
Whatever you decide to do will have an impact on your golden years. If you aren't clear about the path you want to take, there's no harm in leaving the money where it is now. You can always come back for it later (and find some extra money generated from interest to boot!).
But if and when you do withdraw your CPF, remember to celebrate! Don't forget to reward yourself - take a holiday, have a good meal, or do whatever it is that makes you happy. (Within your means, of course!)
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