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Social Security & Taxation

Social Security in Singapore

Will I be covered by social security in Singapore? This is an important question for expatriates moving to the city-state for a new career or to join their family. Our guide explains in brief how social security in Singapore works and how this may affect residents from overseas.

Provident Funds

Social security in Singapore goes back to the 1950s. The current government scheme was first implemented in 1955 and last revised in 2001. Social security in Singapore focuses on the central concept of a provident fund, to which all citizens and permanent residents should contribute during their lifetime.

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) administers all forms of social security in Singapore. This includes four different accounts:

Except for Medisave, we will now give you an overview of social security in Singapore. To find out how government-supported health insurance works, please read our article on healthcare in Singapore.

Social Security for Employees

The CPF schemes mainly offer social security in Singapore to local employees. There is some slightly different coverage for selected public-sector employees, but such details go beyond the scope of this article.

Every employed person must pay a certain amount from their earnings into each fund. The exact sum required for annual contributions to social security in Singapore depends on age and income.

Employees with a monthly income of less than 500 SGD do not pay anything. People in the income bracket between 500 SGD and 1,500 SGD contribute a flat amount to social security in Singapore. Everyone else has to allocate a specified percentage to each of their accounts.

However, there is a cut-off point for calculating this percentage. If you earn more than 5,500 SGD per month, the earnings above this limit do not figure into your payments for social security in Singapore anymore.

In addition to the yearly contributions made by the employees, their employers are legally required to support them. Therefore they must pay either a flat sum or 16 percent of the employee’s monthly income into the CPF accounts. Which option applies is again dependent on the employee’s earnings and their age.

Beyond the mandatory contributions, both employer and employee can make voluntary top-up payments. All contributions combined must not exceed 30,600 SGD a year.

The Various CPF Accounts

The money allocated to the CPF accounts for social security in Singapore grows at a fixed interest rate. It is regularly adjusted by the Singaporean government. Citizens and permanent residents of Singapore can use the money from each account for specific purposes.

Social security in Singapore covers disability benefits and survivors’ benefits as well. Again, the money comes from the employee’s CPF accounts. In order to receive disability benefits, you need an official medical assessment showing that you are permanently and completely unable to work. Survivors’ benefits are paid to close family members in case of your premature death.

Social Security for the Self-Employed

Self-employed people in Singapore who are either citizens or permanent residents also contribute to the CPF scheme. If they have an annual net income between 6,000 SGD and 60,000 SGD, they have to pay into their Medisave Account. These contributions may amount from 2.38 to 9 percent of their income, depending on the age of the person.

Self-employed Singaporeans can contribute to the other kinds of social security in Singapore, too. However, these payments are purely voluntary and at their own discretion.

Social Security for Expatriates

As previously mentioned, social security in Singapore only extends to citizens and permanent residents. Foreign employees who are temporary residents are not covered by the CPF. This includes most migrant workers and expatriates. Singapore has no social security agreements with other countries, either.

Therefore it is vital that you look into social security coverage on your own before you move to Singapore. Our guide to healthcare in Singapore has some tips on getting a private health insurance policy for expats.

Moreover, you should not neglect your retirement provisions. If you pay into a national pension scheme, contact your social security office back home to see how your time living and/or working in Singapore affects your retirement benefits. This can depend on factors like the duration of your stay overseas and the exact clauses in your new employment contract.

Also get in touch with the insurance provider(s) for any additional pension schemes you have, as well as with a financial advisor from your bank at home. The lack of social security for expatriates is a good reason why you should check if your new employer offers a company pension plan.

If you become a permanent resident as a holder of a P, Q, or S work permit for Singapore (for professional, qualified, or skilled overseas employees), you will also be added to the CPF scheme. Permanent residency entitles you to social security in Singapore.

Further Information on Social Security:

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine