CPF says woman who can't withdraw savings for son's mental health treatment is getting financial help

In her letter, the mother blamed the government's policies for her family's circumstances.

Matthias Ang| March 14, 07:23 PM

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board has responded to claims that an unemployed woman was unable to withdraw her CPF savings for her mentally-ill son's treatment, stating that both her and her son were actually receiving financial support from other government organisations.

Despite not mentioning the article that published these assertions by name, CPF appears to be referencing an article published by The Independent Singapore (TISG) on March 6, titled "Angry mother warns CPF Board: ‘It’s your fault if I can’t withdraw my savings and my son kills himself"".

What the article was about

TISG's article featured two letters, which appeared to be an exchange between a CPF Board employee and a lady named Carena Tan.

Here's a summary of the employee's letter, purportedly in response to a request from Tan to withdraw her CPF savings:

  • The employee explained rubrics of the CPF Retirement Scheme to Tan, who turned 55 in 2018.
  • Under this scheme, it is necessary for her to set aside a full retirement sum of S$171,000 in her Retirement Account.
  • Tan could make withdrawals above a Basic Retirement Sum of S$85,500, but only under certain conditions which she did not fulfil.
  • Tan would, however, be able to explore using MediSave to cover her son's medical expenses.

Here's what Tan wrote in response:

  • She needed to withdraw S$70,000 from her CPF for alternative treatment for her son's mental illness.
  • She said the medicine prescribed by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for her son allegedly made his condition worse.
  • The authorities have been heavy-handed in handling her case and that she therefore holds them responsible for any negative consequences, including her son's suicide or her own suicide.

It turns out, though, that there was information that neither the letters nor the TISG article mentioned — namely that Tan and her son were already receiving financial support.

Mother and son received ComCare assistance

CPF clarified the circumstances of the mother's situation (referred to as "Madam T" in their post), and added that both she and her son were receiving assistance.

The organisation noted that Madam T is 56 years old, and had already drawn out part of her CPF in 2018.

CPF added that Tan's son was 25 years old, and that it was important for Tan to preserve her savings for both their futures.

It then highlighted that both of them had been receiving monthly assistance from ComCare since Jan. 2018, and that her son's treatment at IMH was covered under ComCare as well.

It further added that IMH was also providing Tan and her son with financial assistance and necessary support, and pointed out that Tan could also approach the Medical Social Worker at IMH for more assistance.

The CPF Board then concluded by stating that Tan was receiving support from the Family Service Centre, the Medical Social Worker, as well as CPF's agencies and VWO community partners.

You can see CPF's post below:

And you can read the original two letters published on TISG in full here.

Top image collage from CPF Facebook, Google Maps and The Independent Singapore