It is predicted that 50% of Singaporeans who are healthy at 65 years old will eventually develop a long-term disability. ElderShield was launched in 2002 to provide basic financial protection for individuals who need long-term care, especially in their old age.
What is ElderShield?
ElderShield is a severe disability insurance scheme that aims to provide basic financial protection to all Singaporeans who need long-term care and supplement Singaporeans’ savings should they experience severe disability.
ElderShield policyholders who are severely disabled can receive cash payouts of $300 or $400 per month, for up to 72 months.
What are the payouts under ElderShield?
In the event of a severe disability, those who are covered under ElderShield will receive monthly payouts of $300 or $400 for up to 5 or 6 years, depending on the time you joined ElderShield.
There are 2 ElderShield Plans: ElderShield300 and ElderShield400.
- If you joined ElderShield from September 2007 onwards, you will be covered under ElderShield400. Those under this plan will receive a monthly payout of $400 per month, for a maximum duration of 72 months (6 years).
- If you joined ElderShield between September 2002 and August 2007, you will be covered under ElderShield300 instead. This plan provides you with a monthly payout of $300 per month, for a maximum duration of 60 months (5 years).
How is ‘severe disability’ defined?
An individual is considered to be severely disabled if they are unable to perform at least 3 out of 6 of these activities of daily living even with the aid of special equipment, and will always require the physical assistance of another individual throughout the entire activity.
The 6 activities of daily living (ADLs) include:
- Washing: The ability to wash your face or body in the bath or shower independently as well as physically getting in and out of the shower.
- Dressing: The ability to choose which clothes to wear, putting them on, and managing your self appearance. This includes securing and unfastening any artificial limbs, braces, and other medical and surgical appliances, if needed.
- Feeding: The ability to feed oneself after the food has been prepared.
- Toileting: The ability to get to and from the toilet, use it properly, and clean yourself afterwards. This includes putting on protective undergarments such as diapers or surgically appliances unaccompanied, if required.
- Mobility: The ability to sit, stand, walk and move from one place to another on level surfaces by yourself.
- Transferring: While similar to functional mobility and sometimes used interchangeably, transferring focuses on all aspects of being able to move from a bed to an upright chair or wheelchair and vice versa.
Who is ElderShield For?
Until 2019, all Singaporeans were automatically enrolled in ElderShield at the age of 40 if you have a MediSave account, unless you opt out of the scheme. Coverage was provided by one of the private insurers appointed by the Ministry of Health to run ElderShield, which includes Aviva, Great Eastern or Income.
There are exceptions. Those born on 30 September 1932 or before will not be covered by ElderShield. Furthermore, individuals who are classified as severely disabled (i.e. unable to perform at least 3 activities of daily living, which includes washing, feeding, dressing, toileting, mobility and transferring) prior to enrolment will also not be eligible for any claims and should apply to cancel the plan when they receive the welcome letter at age 40. This group of individuals will be covered by IDAPE instead.
From 2020, there will be no new auto-enrolments into ElderShield. Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who turn 40 in 2020 will be enrolled into CareShield Life instead. The government will also be taking over the administration of ElderShield from existing insurers at the end of 2021.
How do I check if I am covered under ElderShield?
To check whether you are covered under ElderShield and which plan you are covered under, you can contact your ElderShield insurer or log on to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board website and follow these steps:
- Go to http://www.cpf.gov.sg/
- Login to “my CPF Online Services” using your NRIC and SingPass
- Select “My Messages” and view under “Healthcare”
If you are covered under ElderShield, you will be able to see the insurer you are covered under. If you are not covered, no information on ElderShield will be available. To find out which ElderShield plan you are covered under, you will have to contact your insurer directly.
ElderShield premiums are payable until the policy anniversary after your 65th birthday, or when you make a successful claim, whichever is earlier. The amount of premium you pay depends on the age at which you join the ElderShield scheme, and does not increase over time.
ElderShield premiums can be fully paid using your or your family members’ MediSave. If you have insufficient funds in your MediSave account, you can also top up your MediSave account via CPF e-Cashier.
If you cannot afford your premiums and decide to drop out of ElderShield, you may still be able to receive some payouts should you become severely disabled, if you have paid a minimum amount of premiums. Payout amount will depend on the total amount of premiums you have paid previously.
Find out more about the premium you have to pay for ElderShield400 and ElderShield300 at the various entry ages here.
How do I make an ElderShield claim?
In the event of a severe disability, caregivers can make an ElderShield claim for their loved ones.
Follow the steps below to make an ElderShield claim:
- Contact your ElderShield insurer online or via their Customer Service Centre to obtain:
- A copy of the claim form
- The list of MOH-accredited severe disability assessors
- Make an appointment to have your loved one’s condition assessed by an appointed assessor, who will complete the assessment form and send it to your insurer for processing. Do take note that there will be a fee for the assessment.*
- Upon approval, you will begin receiving the monthly payout via cheque or bank transfer after 90 days.
* There will be a severe disability assessment fee of $100 for a clinic assessment and $250 for a house call. This assessment fee will be reimbursed with your first payout if your claim is successful.
ElderShield Supplement: An ElderShield Upgrade
Existing ElderShield policyholders who would like to have a higher coverage may purchase supplements from any of the ElderShield insurers. Premiums will vary depending on the type of benefits offered and can be paid using your or your family member’s MediSave, up to $600 per calendar year per person insured. Learn more about the different supplement plans available here.
ElderShield supplements will continue to be in-force as long as you continue paying premiums and do not terminate your coverage. Enrolment into CareShield Life will not affect your ElderShield Supplement policy and you will be able to claim from both ElderShield Supplement policy and CareShield Life as long as you fulfil the respective criteria. The administration of ElderShield Supplements will remain under the private insurers even after the government takes over the administration of ElderShield from existing insurers at the end of 2021.
You can find out your Supplement coverage through the CPF Board’s website as well.
What happens if I recover from my disability and subsequently become disabled again?
After you have recovered from your disability, you will have to continue paying the premiums to benefit from the coverage, unless you have exceeded the premium paying age of 65 years old.
If you subsequently become disabled again, you will have to go through the 3 steps above to be eligible for the claim again.
Is ElderShield Compulsory?
No. Even though you are enrolled automatically, you can opt out of ElderShield. Simply write in to your insurer and make sure to indicate your name and NRIC number clearly and personally sign the relevant letters. No premium will be refunded after the first 60 days of the first policy year. You can terminate your ElderShield cover anytime, but will lose all existing benefits.
If you are between the ages of 40 and 65 and wish to re-join ElderShield (or CareShield Life, from end-2021 onwards), you may approach any of the 3 ElderShield insurers to apply. However, a medical assessment may be required and the annual premiums may be higher as it is determined by your age of entry.
What happens to my ElderShield policy if I decide to join CareShield Life?
If you choose to join CareShield Life, your ElderShield policy will be replaced by your CareShield Life policy. Rest assured that the total premiums you have paid for ElderShield will be taken into consideration and you will only have to top up the difference for your CareShield Life premiums.
Other Financial Assistance Schemes for the Elderly
Besides ElderShield, there are a slew of other financial assistance schemes, subsidies and grants available for the elderly, disabled and caregivers. Learn more about the different financial assistance schemes and caregiver grants for the elderly that you can tap on in Singapore in our all-in-one guide.