How do I plan my retirement using CPF Life?

  • Post author:

Jocelyn Goh,  AFPCM

As a middle-age working mother in my late 40s, there are 2 main things that is always on my mind, having sufficient funds to support my kids tertiary education and retiring comfortably at age 60 or earlier.

As a first step, I have looked at the CPF Retirement Account (RA) which will be available at age 55. CPF will automatically transfer all funds from our Special Account (SA) and Ordinary Account (OA) to the Retirement Account on our 55th birthday.

Depending on the amount available in the RA, a CPF member should fall into one of these categories.

  • Basic Retirement Sum (BRS)
  • Full Retirement Sum (FRS)
  • Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS)

As a Singapore citizen, I will automatically be enrolled in CPF Life Scheme, as long as there is a minimum sum of $60,000 in the RA. This also applies to Permanent Resident of Singapore. There are 2 CPF life plans, standard plan provides members with higher monthly payouts but lower bequest for member’s beneficiaries. Basic plan is the direct opposite.

The estimated monthly payout will be as follows:-

The CPF Life scheme should be able to supplement our living expense partially if not in full, depending on your desired lifestyle. Not forgetting, this monthly payout has not been adjusted to include the effect of inflation over the years.

The table below will give you an idea of what to expect at age 55 depending on your current contribution. You can adjust the figures accordingly and also take into consideration the minimum sum maybe increased in years to come.

** For simplicity and on the conservative side, I have assumed the following   :-

  • Zero balance in Ordinary Account at age 55
  • Constant yearly Special Account contribution before age 55
  • yearly interest rate @4%

I am expecting my monthly expense to be about S$3000 when I reach 65, and therefore the CPF life plan will not be sufficient. I have started to plan and have been actively looking for different options to supplement the shortage.

For those who are non-risk taker, topping up the SA account can be considered as CPF interest rate is quite attractive at the moment. Getting another annuity plan from other sources is also a safe and secured way. For myself, I am taking a little more risk and have started investing in bonds and funds that can give me a higher return of between 5% to 7% yearly.

During retirement you can access the equity in your home by applying for a reverse mortgage, which will not add bills to your bill stacks throughout the year. Instead, a reverse loan, also called a home equity conversion mortgage, will ensure that you receive checks in the mail from your reverse mortgage lender each month for a set time period or until you have used up the available home equity. In addition to the monetary benefit of taking out a reverse loan of this sort as a retiree you will also be able to enjoy flexibility as to how you spend the money and remain secure in the knowledge that you cannot be evicted from your home for non-payment as you could be if you had a standard home loan.


Planning ahead for retirement is the key, and I have only started in the recent years, a bit late though. My advice is to start early, keep a lookout on CPF scheme changes and find out more by attending some free workshops/seminars for a start, if you are newbie.

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