It is undoubtedly a fulfilling role to provide care for someone you love. Caregiving is also a strenuous role, emotionally, psychologically as well as financially. According to a Lien Foundation-NUS study, home care could cost a staggering amount of S$3,100 per month for a severely disabled senior, and between S$900-$2,100 before subsidy per month in less severe cases. The good news is that there are multiple financial assistance schemes available for caregivers and care recipients in Singapore, ranging from caregiver training grant, FDW levy concession to help you hire foreign domestic helpers to care for loved ones, to grants for lower-income households and disability insurance schemes.
These various programs can be complex to navigate. In this article, we guide caregivers through the existing and latest financial assistance schemes that are available in Singapore for care recipients and caregivers. We will also explain the terminology, eligible conditions and support amounts to help you conduct assessment for yourself and the loved ones you are caring for before submitting your application.
Understanding the Terminology in Caregiver’s Financial Support and Subsidy
First, it is important to understand the definitions of caregiver and care recipient in the context of government’s financial support and subsidy. Although eligibility may differ from scheme to scheme, generally, a care recipient is defined as someone who requires assistance with a number of activities among the 6 activities of daily living (ADL), while caregiver is someone who lives with the care recipient in the same household and provides such assistance. The 6 ADL’s include
- Washing or bathing
- Walking or moving around
- Transferring independently from bed to an upright chair, and vice versa.
A disability assessment or functional assessment form needs to be completed by either the care recipient or caregiver who applies for financial support and verified by a MOH accredited severe disability assessor. This can be done by visiting the assessor’s clinic. If the care recipient has mobility difficulty, you can request an assessor to conduct the assessment at your home. Disability assessment fee is often $100 for in-clinic assessment and $250 for home-visit, which can be reimbursed if your loved one is assessed to have severe disability. Ninkatec provides home assessment service for your convenience. You can also look for the nearest assessor from here.
A number of the grants aim to support lower income individuals and families. To qualify for the grant, your household income needs to be ‘means-tested’. A means-test is a way for the Singapore government to determine how much subsidies a person is eligible for. Most financial assistance schemes provide support to households with monthly income per person of $2,800 or less. In the event the household has no income, annual value of the residence is used. As of now, no-income households eligible for financial assistance must be living in a residence with an annual value of $13,000 or less. Please visit MOH household income check page to make sure your household income is assessed and updated.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s go into details of each of the financial support schemes available for Singaporean care recipients and caregivers who live in Singapore. Singapore Permanent Residents who live in the same household with a Singaporean immediate family member are also eligible.
1. Caregivers Training Grant (CTG)
Caregivers Training Grant is a training fee subsidy to support caregiver’s need to attend training in order to provide better care for loved ones.
Who are eligible to apply:
- Caregivers who are Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents who care for a care recipient aged 65 years or above who is assessed to have severe disability, ie., requiring some assistance with at least 3 out of 6 activities of daily living mentioned above.
- In the event there are more than 1 caregivers providing care for the care recipient, the caregiver applicant must be the one in charge. Other caregivers do not need to apply and can share the subsidy amount with the applicant.
- The training course must be completed, with a certificate of attendance if one is provided.
What financial assistance is available: Training fee subsidy when applying for one of the pre-approved courses, capped at $200 annually for all caregivers providing care to an eligible care recipient. Please note $10 registration fee needs to be co-funded by the caregiver for each training.
How to apply: Register for one of the pre-approved courses at least 2 weeks before training dates, complete the CTG application form and submit it to the trainer who will submit it on your behalf.
2. Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy Concession For Persons With Disabilities
The Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession allows families to pay a concessionary FDW levy at $60 a month, instead of the usual rate of $300. Each household is eligible for up to two FDW levy concessions.
Who are eligible to apply: Households who employ foreign domestic workers to care for a loved ones with disabilities.
- The loved ones to be cared for must be Singaporean, live in the same residential address as the FDW employer, or are the FDW employer themselves.
- Assessed to have disability by MOH accredited assessors.
What financial assistance is available: Concession of $240 a month on FDW levy or $480 a month if you employ more than 1 FDW.
3.Home Caregiving Grant
Launched in October 2019, Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) replaced Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW) Grant. Those who applied for FDW prior to HCG are automatically enrolled in HCG.
Who are eligible to apply: Care recipients who
- Always require assistance with at least 3 out of 6 activities of daily living mentioned above.
- Live in a household with monthly income per person of $2,800 or less, determined through means-testing, or living in a residence with annual value of $13,000 or less if the household doesn’t have an income.
- Are not living in a residential long-term care institution such as a nursing home.
What financial support is available: Cash payout of $200/month
How to apply: Fill in the application form and send together with the disability assessment report to AIC. You will also need to make sure your household income is assessed and updated by visiting MOH household income check page.
4. Financial Assistance from ComCare
ComCare is a scheme launched in 2005 to provide social assistance to low-income Singaporean individuals and families. ComCare provides urgent financial assistance, as well as short and medium term financial help to Singaporeans in need through a network of Social Service Offices (SSO).
Who are eligible to apply: Singaporeans or Singapore Permanent Residents living with a parent, child or spouse who is a Singaporean, who
- Have a monthly household income of $1,900 or less, or monthly individual income per person of $650 or less,
- Are currently looking for work or unable to work temporarily due to illness or caregiving responsibility provided to children, elderly or other dependants,
- Have little or no family support, savings or assets to rely on for your daily needs.
What financial assistance is available: A monthly cash payout, as well as assistance to pay household bills and medical support. Aside from SSO financial assistance, the organisation also supports with job search and/or training to help you search for a job.
How to apply: Visit the nearest SSO office to be assessed and guided through the application process. You can also visit ComCare website or call 18002220000 to find out more.
5. Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme (PioneerDAS)
PioneerDAS provides a monthly cash payout of $100 to Pioneers who have a disability.
Who are eligible to apply:
- Pioneers living in Singapore, born before 1950 and became Singaporean before 1987.
- Pioneers require assistance for at least 3 of the 6 Activities of Daily Living as certified by an assessor.
What financial assistance is available: Monthly cash payout of $100.
6. Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF)
SMF provides seniors who age in place with subsidies to pay for assistive devices, home healthcare items, or transport needs.
Who are eligible to apply: Singaporeans aged 60 years or above who
- Live in a household with monthly income per person of $2,000 or less, or living in a residence with annual value of $13,000 or less, determined through means-testing.
- Are assessed to need mobility aids or a specific assistive device.
- Have not made a previous claim under SMF for the same type of device.
What financial assistance is available: Up to 90% subsidy for the cost of the mobility aid or 90% of the maximum device subsidy cap, whichever is lower. Devices eligible for subsidy include walking stick, wheelchair, pressure relief mattress, commode, hospital bed, spectacles, hearing aids, as well as home care items such as catheter, nasal tubing, adult diapers and milk supplements.
How to apply: Get assessed and applied for by the registered therapist, clinic or rehabilitation centre who are caring for you, or by contacting AIC directly via phone, email or website.
7. Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly (IDAPE)
IDAPE was launched in 2002 to support seniors who are not covered under ElderShield insurance scheme, and therefore do not receive the monthly cash payout that other seniors under ElderShield are protected with should they suffer from severe disability.
Who are eligible to apply: Singaporeans who
- Were born on or before 30 September 1932 (aged 88 or above as of this writing in 2020); OR
- Were born between 1 October 1932 and 30 September 1962 (aged 58 to 88 as of this writing in 2020) with pre-existing disabilities as of 30 September 2002.
- Live in a household with monthly income per person of $2,800 or less, or living in a residence with annual value of $13,000 or less, determined through means-testing.
- Are assessed to have disability by a MOH accredited assessor.
Different from Home Caregiving Grant above, seniors living in nursing homes are eligible to apply.
What financial assistance is available: There are 2 tiers of monthly cash payout:
- $250 for household with monthly income of $2,000 per person or less as determined by means testing, or living in a residence with annual value of $13,000 or less.
- $150 for household with monthly income from $2,001 to $2,800 per person as determined by means testing.
The payout duration is limited to 72 months (6 years), and can be used to defray medical bills, hiring domestic helpers, or other costs.
How to apply: Complete the application form and send it together with the disability assessment report to AIC. You will also need to make sure your household income is assessed and updated by visiting MOH household income check page. If you live in a nursing home, you can approach nursing home staff for help to apply.
Introduced in January 2020, ElderFund provides support to severely disabled lower-income Singaporeans aged 30 and above who are not covered under ElderShield, CareShield Life and IDAPE.
Who are eligible to apply: Singaporeans aged 30 and above living in Singapore who:
- Live in a household with monthly income per person of $1,200 or less.
- Have MediSave balance of less than $10,000
- Assessed to have severe disability by a MOH-accredited assessor.
- Not covered or no longer covered under ElderShield, CareShield Life and IDAPE.
What financial assistance is available: Monthly cash payout of $250 for as long as you are eligible.
How to apply: Complete the application form and send it together with the disability assessment report to AIC. You will also need to make sure your household income is assessed and updated by visiting MOH household income check page.
9. Insurance Schemes
It is estimated that 1 in 2 healthy Singaporeans aged 65 could become severely disabled in their lifetime, and may need long-term care. Insurance schemes are a way to start saving early as a community to protect ourselves against the long-term care cost should severe disability happen. It also helps to provide a peace of mind to individuals. Below are the insurance schemes available:
- ElderShield: An automatically enrolled disability insurance program from the age of 40 to protect against severe disability for all Singaporeans and Singapore Permanent Residents with MediSave accounts. It provides monthly payouts of $300 or $400 for a period of 5 or 6 years starting from enrollment should disability happen. Premium is a fixed amount paid from MediSave until the age of 65.
- CareShield Life: This insurance scheme provides enhanced protection to all Singaporeans from the age of 30, with a higher monthly payout for life, starting from $600 per month and increasing each year, should disability happen. The scheme will be launched towards the end of 2020. Enrollment is automatic if you have a MediSave account. Those who are currently covered under ElderShield will be transitioned to CareShield Life in the next 10 years. Lower income individuals can apply for premium subsidies.
- MediSave Care: Another initiative which will be opened for application at the end of 2020, allowing severely disabled Singaporeans aged 30 and above to make cash withdrawals of up to $200 per month from their or their spouse’s MediSave Accounts to pay for their long-term care needs.
- MediShield Life: In addition to disability insurance programs, health insurance is important in protecting us against large hospital bills. Replacing MediShield in 2015, MediShield Life is an automatically enrolled health insurance plan for all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, with the added benefit of covering those who are very old, or have pre-existing conditions. The protection is for life. Subsidies are available for Pioneers and lower income individuals.
10. Other Support Schemes for Caregivers
Caregivers are said to be the “red thread” keeping care recipients connected with the community, their first line of support who shoulder the day to day wellbeing of their loved ones as well as financial responsibilities. Such enormous and constant responsibility can easily take a toll on caregivers, resulting in caregiver burnout in some cases. Thus, caregivers are encouraged to join caregiver support groups, talk about their challenges, and opt for respite care at busy or stressful times without feeling guilty. In the upcoming months and years, Singaporean caregivers can look forward to more support initiatives in addition to caregiver financial help, such as options respite care, enhanced support from the workplace such as flexible work arrangement, unpaid leave days for urgent care needs, and more socio-emotional support from community outreach programs.
At Ninkatec, we understand caregivers’ immense challenges and are here for you all the way. With this article, we hope to help keep you updated and make better use of the financial support schemes available to you and loved ones. For additional support on medical matters in caring for elderlies, dementia, cancers, or post-stroke patients, consult our team of doctors, nurses and caregivers via Whatsapp, phone, email or submit a form directly to us. Ninkatec is committed to making caring for loved ones at home a peace of mind for you.