social worker taking notes during a session with a couple

A Complete Guide to Means Testing in Singapore

Means-testing is a method to calculate the subsidies you'll receive based on your household income and other factors to ensure lower-income families receive more than higher-income households.

by Hannah Grey

If you’ve ever attempted to apply for government subsidies in the past, then you would probably have already come across the term ‘means testing’ several times. But what exactly is it all about?

What is a Household Means Test?

Essentially, a household mean-test is a framework used to determine the government subsidies a person is eligible for when you use care services in Singapore. This ensures that those with limited means such as lower-income families receive more subsidies than those from higher-income families as they are the ones who need it more. 

Some of these subsidies include the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) where seniors can get access to subsidised assistive devices and home healthcare items, the Home Caregiving Grant where families get a monthly cash payout to use for the care for their loved ones with moderate to severe disabilities, and the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) where Singaporeans will receive subsidies for all participating clinics. 

While all Singaporeans are allowed to undergo household means-testing for subsidy application, most applicants come from lower-income households. 

Who is eligible for subsidies?

To qualify for subsidies, applicants must: 

  • be a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident.
  • meet the admission criteria.
  • already be receiving care from an MOH-funded service provider.

Do take note that this does not automatically mean that you will receive subsidies. Other factors such as household income will be used to determine the schemes that you are eligible for and the amount of subsidy you will receive.

How is my subsidy level determined?

The level of subsidy you receive depends on the monthly household income per person. 

Generally, monthly household income per person is calculated by taking the total gross monthly income of all family members in your household divided by the number of family members living together. This includes all family members living in the same residential address as stated in their NRIC, such as relatives related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption.

A Household Monthly Income Per Person Calculator is also available on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) website for easy access. 

To determine the full extent of subsidy that one is entitled to, the household means-test must also consider the: 

  • Gross income of the person who needs care, his/her spouse (if any), and all family  members living in the same household 
  • Total number of family members living in the same residence

Or, if the household does not have a source of income:

  • Annual value of the place of residence

How much subsidy will I receive?

The amount of subsidies provided is largely dependent on your household means-test results and the particular financial scheme you applied for. 

You can find a comprehensive list of the amount of subsidy granted for the various types of care services here.

Which financial schemes require means-testing?

Here are some of the healthcare schemes and subsidies that require means-testing: 

These services are commonly provided at long-term care facilities such as community hospitals, chronic sick facilities, eldercare centres, home-based services, hospices, as well as nursing homes. 

How do I apply?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply: 

Step 1

Approach any of the medical social workers at your nearby polyclinic or hospital, where they will assist you with the application for government subsidies through the National Means Testing Systems. 

Step 2 

If the polyclinic or hospital already has your personal records and information in their system, the medical social workers can immediately assess your subsidies and eligibility rate. 

If not, they will have to evaluate the applicant’s conditions, financial status, and family background before moving on with the application. 

Step 3

The staff will then assist you in completing the Means-Test Declaration Form and refer your application directly to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).After the form has been reviewed, successful applicants will be informed of the subsidies they are eligible for and will be briefed on the pre-admission preparation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How are my savings and non-CPF investments calculated? 

Under the admission criteria, the savings and non-CPF investments of applicants cannot exceed S$10,000—for those younger than 60 years old, and S$40,000—for those above 60 years old.

In order to calculate the following assets, you can add up the value in your bank account savings, overall value of shares in your Central Depository (CDP) account, and other investments with a cash value.

How long is the validity of the means test result? 

All means test results are valid for two years. After that time period, applicants need to complete the household means-test again. 

When should I apply for the means-test again? 

Apart from the validity of your results expiring after two years, you should also apply again when: 

  • There is a change in the number of household members (e.g. a family member no longer staying in the household) 
  • The entire household moves to a new place and changes their residential address 
  • There have been notable changes in the overall household monthly income 
  • A household member turns 21 years old 

What happens when I fail the means-test?

For applicants who fail the means-test, it is likely that they have the financial means to do without the government subsidies. However, as long as you are staying in a subsidised ward in a community hospital, you remain eligible for a base subsidy of 20% for Singapore Citizens and 10% for Permanent Residents regardless of the result of your means-test. 

If you would still like to appeal for higher subsidies despite the unsuccessful results, a detailed financial assessment will be done by your Medical Social Worker on top of the means-testing framework. 

Need Financial Help? 

We could all use a helping hand and getting support with your finances is nothing to be ashamed of. With the slew of government subsidies available and a simple application process, Singaporean families do not have to worry about having to bear the full financial cost of healthcare and caregiving entirely on their own. 

Learn more about the different financial schemes available in our financial guide for subsidies available for the elderly persons in Singapore.

References
  1. Grey, H. (2021, January 18). A Complete Guide to Hospice Care in Singapore. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/hospice-care/ 
  2. Grey, H. (2021, January 18). A Complete Guide to Singapore Community Hospitals. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/community-hospital-singapore/ 
  3. Grey, H. (2021, January 18). A Guide to Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF). Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/seniors-mobility-and-enabling-fund/ 
  4. Hui, T. (2020, November 20). Financial Assistance for Elderly & Caregiver Grants. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/financial-assistance-for-elderly-and-caregiver-grants-singapore/ 
  5. Hui, T. (2021, January 18). Top Nursing Home and Old Folks Home in Singapore. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/nursing-home-singapore/ 
  6. Intermediate And Long-Term Care (ILTC) Services. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/home/our-healthcare-system/healthcare-services-and-facilities/intermediate-and-long-term-care-(iltc)-services 
  7. What is the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)? (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2021, from  https://www.chas.sg/gpcontent.aspx?id=216#:~:text=What%20is%20the%20Community%20Health,(GP)%20and%20dental%20clinics.
  8. Ministry of Health Singapore (n.d.). Subsidies for Government-funded Intermediate Long-Term Care Services. Retrieved February 7, 2021, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/subsidies-for-government-funded-intermediate-long-term-care-services/.
About the Writer
Hannah Grey
Hannah is an all-around creative with a flair for travel and photography. She also only has her coffee black, which should be the only way to drink it.
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