Why There Are 3 CPF Retirement Sums & Why They Increase Every Year

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For Singaporeans turning 55 years old every year, this is an exciting milestone because it marks the first time we can withdraw from our CPF in cash (not just use it for our housing repayments). The CPF Retirement Sum is an important number we need to keep track of as it determines how much we can withdraw from our CPF accounts.

For Singaporeans turning 55 years old in 2024, this is $102,900 for the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS), $205,800 for the Full Retirement Sum (FRS) and $308,700 for the Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS).

So, why are there 3 Retirement Sums and why do they increase every year?

Also Read: Here’s What Your CPF Full Retirement Sum Might Look Like When You’re 55

CPF Retirement Sum Only Kicks In At Age 55

When we turn 55 years old, a new CPF Retirement Account (RA) is created for us. The monies from our Special Account (SA) and Ordinary Account (OA) will be used to fund our RA, capped at the Full Retirement Sum (FRS). The amount in our RA will continue to earn interest until it is put into the CPF Life Scheme when we turn 65 years old. Our RA savings is used to determine our CPF Life monthly payment and our CPF balances.

To ensure that Singaporeans are saving adequately for retirement, CPF has set 3 different amounts that we should meet to be prepared for retirement: Basic Retirement Sum, Full Retirement Sum and Enhanced Retirement Sum.

Thus, the Retirement Sums are threshold targets and they do not determine our actual CPF Life payouts nor the savings in our Retirement Account.

Read Also: What Happens To Your CPF Monies After Transferring It To Your Retirement Account (RA) At Age 55?

What Is The Basic Retirement Sum (BRS)?

For most Singaporeans, the most valuable asset we own is our property (and it is also the asset that we spent most of our CPF monies on). CPF recognises this, and we can opt to pledge a property that we own and set aside only the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) instead of the Full Retirement Sum. The BRS is half of the FRS.

Retirement Sums and monthly CPF LIFE payouts

Source: MOF

Those who turn 55 and meet the BRS ($102,900) in 2024 will enjoy an estimated lifelong monthly payout of $900 in their retirement.

By pledging our property, we can potentially withdraw more from our CPF accounts. We can withdraw any amount that is above the BRS that comes from our mandatory contributions. Our Retirement Sum Topping Up Scheme (RSTU) contributions are excluded and do not count towards our BRS. For examples of how this is calculated, you can read our article on how much you can withdraw at age 55.

The downside of the BRS is that being half the amount of the FRS, our eventual CPF Life monthly payouts are also almost halved (BRS: $900 vs FRS: $1,670). Assuming that we choose not to sell or downsize our property, we may have to adapt to a less comfortable retirement lifestyle.

Read Also: Here’s What You Need To Know About Pledging Your Property To Meet The CPF Full Retirement Sum (FRS)

What Is The Full Retirement Sum (FRS)?

The Full Retirement Sum (FRS) is meant to safeguard our retirement adequacy and is the maximum amount that will be transferred into our RA at age 55 and the maximum we can top up our SA before the age of 55.

Those who meet the FRS ($205,800) in 2024 will be able to enjoy an estimated lifelong monthly payout of $1,670 in their retirement.

Once we have met the FRS, we can withdraw more than the minimum $5,000 from our CPF at 55. We can withdraw any amount that is above the FRS.

For example, if we have accumulated $250,000 in our CPF (across all the accounts) at age 55 and the FRS for our cohort is $205,800, we can withdraw up to $44,200 ($210,000 – $205,800).

What Is The Enhanced Retirement Sum (ERS)?

The Enhanced Retirement (ERS) is a little different from the BRS and FRS as it represents the upper limit of what we can top up our Retirement Account (RA) and the upper limit of our CPF Life payouts. We can only top-up our RA to the ERS after we turn 55.

The ERS is set at 3 times the BRS and the CPF Life payouts are correspondingly much larger. For those of us who have excess funds that we intend for our retirement, putting the monies into our RA to meet the ERS has its merits.

Those who meet the ERS ($308,700) in 2024 will be able to enjoy an estimated lifelong monthly payout of $2,450 in their retirement.

Read Also: How CPF LIFE Can Give You A Passive Monthly Income Worth The Median Salary – $3,000 – When You Retire In Singapore

The Retirement Sums Increase Every Year

Unlike the Basic Healthcare Sum which is announced every year, CPF has a schedule of Retirement Sums for Singaporeans turning 55 years old every year. This is to help us better plan for our retirement. For those turning 55 from 2017 to 2022, the BRS increased by about 3% every year. This is to account for long-term inflation and improvements in the standard of living. Correspondingly, the FRS and ERS are set at two times and three times the BRS respectively.

Source: CPF

The increase of about 3% was determined at the recommendation of the CPF Advisory Panel in 2016. The panel examined the historical long-term rates of several indices, including the All Items (or headline) inflation and Core Inflation. According to the report, lower-middle retiree household expenditure grew at an average of about 5% annually over the past ten years.

Announced during Budget 2022, the BRS increments will be raised for cohorts turning 55 from 2023 to 2027. This increase is about 3.5% a year, compared to the previous rate of increase of around 3%.

The increase in BRS is expected to result in higher CPF payouts for members in their retirement years. The FRS and ERS will also increase in tandem, at 2 x BRS and 3 x BRS respectively.

While the Retirement Sums may seem restrictive, they actually represent certain retirement milestones. With the FRS, we can expect a monthly income through CPF Life payouts to provide for an adequate (if not luxurious) retirement lifestyle. With the BRS, we may have to consider downsizing our property to fund our retirement. With the ERS, we most likely can live off our CPF Life payouts during our retirement.

Regardless, the monies in our CPF account can be any amount and we should adjust our retirement expectations accordingly if we fall short of the Retirement Sums.

Read Also: How Much You Need In Your CPF Retirement Account (RA) At 65 To Afford The Average Retiree’s Expenses With CPF LIFE Payouts?

This article was first published on 21 March 2021 and updated with new information. 

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