Heartland Boy notices that there seems to be some confusion on the amount of money/cash that one can withdraw from his or her Central Provident Fund (‘CPF’) upon reaching the withdrawal age of 55. Indeed, withdrawal limits do get more complex when various schemes such as Retirement Sum Top Up (‘RSTU’) and transferring from one’s Ordinary Account (‘OA’) to Special Account (‘SA’) are taken into consideration. This is understandable as the answers to these questions can sometimes be found over several pages on CPF’s website. It takes considerable effort to piece those information into a consistent and congruent piece. Hoping to clear the confusion so that all CPF members can act with certainty and make more informed decisions, Heartland Boy consulted CPF Officers over several emails specifically on this topic. This article seeks to explain the amount of money that you can withdraw from your CPF at 55, especially if you have participated in popular schemes such as RSTU and transfers from OA to SA before you have turned age 55.
1.Understand What Happens At Age 55
While most Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents have acquainted themselves well with the various functions of OA, SA and Medisave (‘MA’), they are often very unfamiliar with what would happen to these accounts upon reaching retirement age. Indeed, it is not uncommon to learn that CPF members do not know what would happen to their various CPF accounts upon turning age 55.
For a start, the CPF Retirement Account (‘RA’) only appears upon the CPF member reaching the age of 55. The CPF Board will transfer your savings from your SA and OA to your RA to form your retirement sum. The money continues to reside in your RA and earn interest until they are withdrawn to participate in CPF LIFE when you choose to start your monthly payouts (between age 65 and 70). CPF Lifelong Income For The Elderly (CPF LIFE) is an annuity scheme that dispenses monthly payouts till your death. The monthly payout would depend on the amount of money you have in your RA at the point you join CPF LIFE from age 65 onwards, which is the payout eligibility age for members born in or before 1954.
2. How Much Can You Withdraw From Your CPF At 55?
Upon turning age 55, a CPF member can withdraw cash from his CPF OA and SA. The CPF withdrawal rules are:
- $5,000 OR your OA and SA savings above the Full Retirement Sum (FRS)*, whichever is higher
- Any RA Savings (exclude top up monies, government grants, and interest earned) above the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) that comes with a sufficient property pledge**.
*In Year 2016, the Basic Retirement Sum is $80,500. The Full Retirement Sum is twice of BRS at $161,000. The Enhanced Retirement Sum ($241,500) is thrice of BRS. These schemes have replaced the previous concept of minimum sum.
**The definition of a sufficient property pledge can be found here
Heartland Boy has developed a few scenarios to illustrate how the CPF withdrawal rules apply to a CPF member turning age 55.
In Scenario 1, as the combined balances in the OA and SA are less than the FRS amount, the CPF member can only withdraw $5,000. (Rule No 1) Heartland Boy’s parents both fall into this category and that is why he is extremely determined to grow these sums quickly.
In Scenario 2, the CPF member can withdraw $5,000 from his OA and SA. (Rule No 1) Additionally, the member can also withdraw $4,500, [$90,000- $5,000 – $80,500 (BRS)] assuming that there is a sufficient property pledge. (Rule No 2)
In Scenario 3, CPF member can withdraw $9,000 [$170,000 – $161,000(FRS)]- from his combined OA and SA balances. (Rule No 1). Additionally, he can further withdraw $80,500 from his RA if there is a sufficient property pledge. (Rule No 2)
Scenarios 1 to 3 are pretty straightforward, plain vanilla scenarios easily understood by most CPF members. However, what Heartland Boy is about to illustrate below gets more complicated. Unsurprisingly, its usefulness increases in tandem with the complexity.
3. How Would Withdrawals Be Affected By RSTU And Transfer Of OA To SA
Recall that the CPF RSTU allows members to build up their retirement nest by toping up your own or your loved ones’ accounts. Heartland Boy has advocated that the RSTU is a good tax reduction tool. In addition, he personally transferred his own OA to SA as a risk-free way to build up his retirement sum by earning higher interest rate. However, taking the initiatives to perform these tasks had probably complicated the withdrawal limits/threshold. Therefore, Heartland Boy sought clarification from CPF to confirm his understanding on how the aforementioned schemes will affect his future withdrawal limits.
In Scenario 4, the CPF member can withdraw $5,000 from his OA and SA. (Rule No 1) Remaining amount of $115,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member will not be allowed to withdraw any savings from his RA as [$115,000 – $80,500 (BRS) – $80,000 (RSTU) = – 45,500 (Negative value).
In Scenario 5 and by applying Rule No 1, the CPF member can withdraw $9,000 from his OA and SA. [$90,000 + $80,000 – $161,000(FRS)] FRS of $161,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can withdraw a further $500 from his RA as [$161,000 – $80,500 (BRS) – $80,000 (RSTU)]
In Scenario 6 and by applying Rule No 1, the CPF member can withdraw $89,000 from his OA and SA. [$170,000 + $80,000 – $161,000(FRS)] FRS of $161,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can withdraw a further $500 from his RA as [$161,000 – $80,500 (BRS) – $80,000 (RSTU)]
In Scenario 7, the CPF member can withdraw $5,000 from his OA and SA. (Rule No 1) Remaining amount of $115,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can set aside the BRS, with sufficient property pledge, to withdraw an additional $34,500 from his RA. [$115,000 – $80,500 (BRS)]
In Scenario 8 and by applying Rule No 1, the CPF member can withdraw $9,000 from his OA and SA. [$90,000 + $80,000 – $161,000(FRS)] FRS of $161,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can withdraw a further $80,500 from his RA with a sufficient property pledge. [$161,000 – $80,500 (BRS)]
In Scenario 9 and by applying Rule No 1, the CPF member can withdraw $89,000 from his OA and SA. [$170,000 + $80,000 – $161,000(FRS)] FRS of $161,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can withdraw a further $80,500 from his RA if there is a sufficient property pledge. [$161,000 – $80,500 (BRS)]
4. Should We Still Perform RSTU and OA To SA Transfer?
From the various scenarios illustrated, it is obvious that transferring from your OA to SA does not affect your withdrawal as it would have been under the plain vanilla scenarios. Essentially, the perspective to adopt is that money already in your CPF has merely been transferred from an account that is more flexible (can be used for property and education) to an account that is more restricted in its purpose in search of higher interest rate. That is why Heartland Boy has been performing the transfer of OA to SA consistently as he has a long runway for his CPF funds to work harder in the Special Account. He was able to do so because he had bought his property early and know the monthly mortgage that he has to pay.
While cash top ups (RSTU) and CPF monies transferred from a giver’s OA to your SA or RA are not computed as part of RA Savings to meet the BRS requirement, let’s not forget that there is a personal tax relief for RSTU* and this allows one to reduce chargeable income and save on income tax. Well, you cannot have the cake and eat it too. Most importantly, if you are confident that you will amass the entire FRS from mandatory CPF contribution, you will be allowed to withdraw both your top up monies (by replacing it with mandatory CPF contribution because money is fungible) as well as your transfers as illustrated under Scenario 6 and 9. A good financial tip would be to monitor your annual CPF statements either online or via mail.
*Do note that CPF transfers from a giver’s OA to a recipient’s OA or RA does not attract tax relief.
The various CPF schemes available eventually seek to provide CPF members with a greater amount of retirement sum. Ultimately, it is important not to lose sight of the big picture. That is because the objective of CPF is to provide lifelong monthly income to meet retirement needs, and less about the amount that you can withdraw at 55.
If you are curious about the interest rates that your respective accounts in the CPF will earn after age 55, you can refer to this article!
Click HERE to access all 6 withdrawal scenarios as a complete PDF so that you never have to worry again!
That is a very clear and informative article! Been wanting to write something like this myself too because people have too many misconceptions about our CPF.
Thank you for your compliments. Glad it was of help!
Kelvin ng says
After 55, can I withdrew $100k from my OA?
This is a great article. Clears up many misconceptions and even any misunderstandings a practitioner may have about the rules and regulations of CPF (money). Will be sure to share this with my friends and clients. Thanks Heartland Boy !
Thanks for dropping by! Hopefully your clients will find it useful as well.
Very informative piece. I am surprised that interest earned are not considered to be part of the computation….
If the interest is as a result of cash top up (RSTU), then it is not considered as part of computation.
This is really a good summary of CPF withdrawal limit ,,, very detail and informative!!
Thanks! Glad it was helpful.
I’m shock to read that the OA to SA transfer and RSTU do not add into the computation for the BRS. I’m 31 this year, and I had made transfers in hope of hitting the BRS early as I do not foresee I can meet it base on my existing pay.
Does the “overflow” from MA (once it hits the BHS) contribute to the BRS calculation?
I refer you to scenario 8. It shows that the OA to SA transfer does add into the computation for the BRS. For RSTU, it clearly does not and Scenario 5 would illustrate that.
I am not sure about the MA overflow of funds since I did not clarify specifically with CPF on this. But based on my reading of the 2 withdrawal rules, as long as the source of MA funds originate from mandatory contribution, then it should contribute to BRS. It is this principle that explains why OA to SA transfer will count as part of your BRS since the OA supposedly originates from your mandatory contribution.
OK so can I clarify it’s a typo… It should be’ OA to SA transfer does add into the computation for the BRS but RSTU does not add to the computation.’
Took a long while for me to process this. I believe you are referring to this para “While cash top ups (RSTU) and CPF monies transferred from a giver’s OA to your SA or RA are not computed as part of RA Savings to meet the BRS requirement, let’s not forget that there is a personal tax relief for RSTU* and this allows one to reduce chargeable income and save on income tax”
The key word here is “GIVER”. If a husband transfer funds from his OA to the wife’s SA, he is a Giver. In the eyes of the system, this is not part of the wife’s compulsory contribution. i.e. the wife did not earn this amount through her own work.
Scenario 8 hits full retirement sum and pledging his property at the same time that is why he can get back more i think . isit true ?
In essence, yes. (i) Rule 1 means that he can withdraw ($170,000- $161,000=) $9,000. Assuming he has a sufficient property pledge, Rule 2 means he can withdraw ($161,000-$80,500=) $80,500. If you add Rule 1 and Rule 2 together, he can withdraw $89,500. Thanks.
For Scenerio6, if pledge property, it should similar to scenerio3. Should it be able to get RSTU amount upon reach 55?
Based on rule number 2- “Any RA Savings (exclude top up monies, government grants, and interest earned) above the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) that comes with a sufficient property pledge”
The savings taken into consideration are EXCLUDING top-up monies. RSTU is an example of top up money and it should be excluded. Therefore, scenario 3 and 6 are different.
Q1: Can I say that the different from scenerio3 will fall into standard plan (RA: 85K) and scenario 6 will fall into basic plan (RA: 161K)? The scenerio6, how can it be able to choose standard plan?
Q2: If scenerio6, can he choose to transfer the RA to his wife (no working), both them meet RA85K and to took back the RSTU?
I tried to understand your follow-up questions but I am unable to grasp them completely. For fear of miscommunication, I recommend that you set up an appointment with CPF to clarify your understanding.
Appreciated your time, Thanks.
Fidel Catstro says
So if one gives up citizenship is the only real way of getting all those funds out in a go?
Hi Heartland Boy,
You never mention about the Medisave Account in your scenario. What if the Medisave Account is lesser than the requirement when you reach 55?
There is no minimum requirement for Medisave. Let me re-produce what i saw on Dollars and Sense
“The Basic Healthcare Sum caps the amount of money we can have in our Medisave Account for life when we hit 65. This is meant to provide for our basic subsidised healthcare needs in our old age, as well as our MediShield Life premiums.
The Basic Healthcare Sum replaced the Medisave Contribution Ceiling since 1 January 2016. This move also saw the old Medisave Minimum Sum completely abolished.”
Hi ,my mom reaching 65 in jan2019,
She’s still working currently and intend to stop work next month .
By the way, she hav oa $2500 sa 1500 and her ra $179,000.
Any cash amount will she receiving on her birthday ?other than that her monthly cpf payout ?
For such a question, i think it is best to seek a CPF officer for direct clarification. That way, you have certainty on the answers provided.
Very helpful Heartland Boy – thanks.
side question – assuming my mum has nil in her RA account, and i then deposit $3500 into it.
I understand she will receive abt $3,500/12 per month.
Does it follow that if i deposit say $5k, she will receive 5000/12 per month? And ditto for say 7k ie 7k divide by 12? I can’t seem to find this answer on the CPF website. Great if you know the answer. Thanks.
You can try the CPF LIFE Estimator (https://www.cpf.gov.sg/eSvc/Web/Schemes/LifePayoutEstimator/LifePayoutEstimator)
For instance, I did a test and put a female aged 65 with only $3,500 in her RA. The estimated payout per month, for both standard and basic plans, is $21. This also shows that the assumption that it will be $3500/12 is not correct.
For greater accuracy, u can impute your mum’s real age and cpf funds.
Hope this helps
Thank you very much for detailed explanation! I have a few questions..
1. For the RSTU, does the money you have go into the RA directly or to the SA first, and only when you hit 55 the FRS or ERS is transferred to the RA? I am guessing it is the latter scenario based on your explanations thus far but just wanted to make sure..
2. What if you have more than the ERS at 55, can you choose to only retain the FRS and withdraw the rest? Does rule 2 apply to the money that you have put in via RSTU if you choose to retain only the ERS?
3. Based on your table of 6 scenarios, if you have 250k in your account including OA, SA and RSTU funds when you are 55 and your FRS is 161k, you can withdraw 250 – 161 = 89k. But you further stated another 500 that can be withdrawn from the RA. Where does the 500 come from? Or are rules 1 and 2 additive?
Apologies if the questions are convoluted or uninspired.. your page has been very helpful and I’m just hoping someone can answer my questions before I go ahead and put the money in via RSTU, even if 7k is not all that much money. Thank you!
Thanks for your compliments, pls find my replies to your qns.
1. Before age 55, there is no RA setup yet. So cash top-ups done via RSTU will go into your SA
2. Yes, you can choose to only transfer FRS to your RA.
3. Rule 2 only applies if you choose to pledge your property. If property is pledged, yes rule 1 +2 can be aggregated.
thank you so much alison!
quick question – given scenario 5, what will happen to the $80,000 RSTU that cannot be withdrawn? when can i start receiving payouts from that, and under what terms and conditions?
The $80K would form part of your RA and you can withdraw them from age 65 via CPFLIFE
Great article, thank you
Hi Heartland boy,
I would like to reconfirm the following:
With a property pledge:
1. Interest generated from RSTU (cash) can be withdrawn from RA, above the BRS value. The absolute cash amount transferred into SA/RA cannot be withdrawn from the RA.
2. Transfers from OA to SA (before 55yo), although also under the RSTU scheme, the amount and its interests, can be withdrawn from RA if the balance is above the BRS.
Reason being, these are not specficially mentioned or I missed them in the CPF website. Did you clarify these with CPF directly?
Great summary btw. Really helpful. Thanks.
Yes, this article was vetted by CPF before it was published. However, my response to your questions have not and will not be vetted by CPF, you may want to clarify with a CPF officer directly. See my response:
1. Refer to scenario 4.
2. Refer to scenario 7.
Thanks for your article and blog in general. Very informative.
I am a new CPF member as I just obtained PR, hence my CPF balance is actually 0$ 🙂
I would like to top up 60K$ over two years (since annual limit for contrib is only 37K$) on my SA to enjoy the 5% interest asap on the first 60K$.
However, if I go by RTSU, I understand that the money can never be withdrawn as a lump sum due to rule n.2.
My thought is to do a cash top up, that will flow over the three accounts (but mainly in OA as I am below 35) and then do transfer from OA to SA.
Like that, my understanding is that under rule 2, I would be able at 55 to withdraw most of these initial 60k, and the interest attached (except the part that initially flown to SA and MA).
I do not mind the lack of tax saving as I already max out SRS contrib each year for this purpose.
What are your thoughts?
Many thanks in advance!
Congrats on obtaining your PR status. If you do a RSTU, your contribution is not bound by the annual limits. Read this article (https://heartlandboy.com/reduce-your-income-tax-expense-cpf-retirement-topping-up-scheme/).
What you are thinking of is Scenario 7- and I think it should work as you have described. IF in doubt, it is best to clarify with a CPF officer.Hope this helps.
Thanks for your very insightful article.
Just wondering – If one is to be so aggressive in performing the RSTU (i.e. consistently topping up beyond the tax relief amount at a young age) such that that the top up amounts + accrued interest at age 55 is higher than the prevailing FRS, will the excess amount from RSTU above the FRS remain in the SA and can be withdrawn freely?
$ in the SA will first be transferred into the RA. Think you missed this step.
The situation that you have described sounds like Scenario 6 to me.
Yes it can be withdrawn freely. I was having the same question in the past and I clarified with CPF. I encourage you to do the same.
What happens to the OA money used up for housing loan after turning 55 for below 2 scenarios ?
scenario 1: housing loan is completely settled using CPF OA
scenario 2: housing loan is currently being serviced using CPF OA
For Scenario 1- OA money used +accrued interest is refunded to your OA account from the sale proceeds. (https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Members/Schemes/schemes/housing/public-housing-scheme)
For Scenario 2- I assume you are concerned that the OA $ will be transferred into your RA. If you are still servicing your housing loan, you can apply to CPF to reserve the OA $, provided that you meet the eligibility conditions (https://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/residential/living-in-an-hdb-flat/for-our-seniors/use-cpf-for-loan-repayment)
Thanks for putting the time into this post. Just wanted to clarify one thing here.
In your last paragraph you said “Most importantly, if you are confident that you will amass the entire FRS from mandatory CPF contribution, you will be allowed to withdraw both your top up monies as well as your transfers as illustrated under Scenario 6 and 9.”
It’s not apparently clear in scenario 6 as I’m still not able to withdraw my RSTU monies despite my mandatory component exceeding the FRS.
In Scenario 6, the $80,000 resulting under RSTU can be withdrawn from the SA once the RA has been formed. It is part of the $89,000 that I have indicated which could be withdrawn from OA/SA.
So, that $80,000 (from RSTU) gets transferred from OA+SA to RA, but gets “stuck” in RA and is not withdrawable. Is that correct?
If my interpretation is correct then your following statement is misleading:
“Most importantly, if you are confident that you will amass the entire FRS from mandatory CPF contribution, you will be allowed to withdraw both your top up monies as well as your transfers as illustrated under Scenario 6 and 9.”
So that 80k top up that I’m taking out would fall under rule 1 yes? And if that’s the case my RA was formed purely out of OA+SA. Why would I not be able to withdraw the balance of my RA over my BRS in this case as it doesn’t comprise of RSTU?
Maybe to clarify where I’m coming from, I read on the cpf website regarding RA formation that non top up monies will be used first towards RA formation.
Not sure if I’m understanding you right but are you saying I can withdraw the RSTU amount under rule 1 but subsequently saying that it reduces my withdrawable amount under rule 2?
Appreciate the help!
Yes u r understanding me right, refer to the latter sentence pertaining to Scenario 6 in my article. In Scenario 6 and by applying Rule No 1, the CPF member can withdraw $89,000 from his OA and SA. [$170,000 + $80,000 – $161,000(FRS)] FRS of $161,000 will be transferred to the RA. Based on RA withdrawal rule (Rule No 2), the CPF member can withdraw a further $500 from his RA as [$161,000 – $80,500 (BRS) – $80,000 (RSTU)]
Thank you Alison for the post. Would like to ask how would a combination of scenario 6 and 9 work?
Scenario 9 should take precedence. It also depends on how much combined balances you have.
Hi, thanks for the informative write-up. May I ask how do voluntary contributions (in excess of mandatory contributions) (i.e. the annual CPF contribution limit less the mandatory contribution amount) affect the withdrawal amount at age 55? Many thanks
You are welcome, I believe the treatment will be similar to RSTU. However, its best you consult a CPF officer.
Heartland Boy – thanks a lot for this article.
But, I found this statement incorrect: “Most importantly, if you are confident that you will amass the entire FRS from mandatory CPF contribution, you will be allowed to withdraw both your top up monies as well as your transfers as illustrated under Scenario 6 and 9.”
If you compare Scenario 3 and 6. In both scenarios, withdrawable amount is $89,500. So, effectively, the amount which was topped up using RSTU (in Scenario 6) is not withdrawable. Am I missing something?
Is there a way to check how much of my CPF balance is made up of mandatory contribution and how much from RSTU top ups?
You may try writing in to CPF and ask for a breakdown. Not sure if they would be able to accede to your request
In your CPF page, click “View amount reserved in your account(s)”.
It will show the amount “in your Special Account reserved under the Retirement Sum Topping-Up Scheme. This comprises the top-ups that you have received and any interest earned, and has been reserved to be transferred to your Retirement Account when you turn 55.”
That’s excellent! I logged in and saw the figure for mine, thanks.
Hi. Thank you for the very informative article. Can I ask, if my SA already reached the FRS, can I still transfer money from OA to SA to earn higher interest? I read somewhere else that there is a cap to SA (up to S$186,000 as of 2021) and not sure if it’s true.
That is true, you cannot perform OA to SA transfer once your SA has reached FRS.
After 55, i have built substantial savings in SA and OA after RA has hit the ERS. I want to withdraw from OA but do not want to touch my SA. What should do ? Can i invest all my SA in short term bonds and then withdraw from OA in cash. AFTER that I sell all my Bonds to return back to SA. This is SA shielding after 55.. is this ok?