Provident funds are a form of social security or retirement funding common in developing nations. Two of the most prominent provident funds are India's Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and Singapore's Central Provident Fund. When it comes to CPF and EPF, it's important to understand their differences, their history and a few of their major provisions.
EPF vs. CPF
There are a number of CPF and EPF differences. First established in 1952, the EPF incorporates a social security program that pays out a lump sum to employees upon retirement, a pension (monthly payment) fund for retired employees as well as their dependents, a housing program and an insurance scheme to cover the retired employee's healthcare costs and those of their family. The employer and employee each pay 12 percent of the employee's monthly salary, so long as the monthly salary is under 15,000 rupees.
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Funds are allocated primarily to the EPF, but 8.33 percent of the employer's contribution is diverted into the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS), which covers expenses for the employee's spouse or children in the event of the employee's death.
The Singaporean CPF was established in 1955 and includes an assortment of social security schemes including monthly pensions, housing and home protection affordances and health savings and insurance accounts. Most workers, including those in the public sector, are required to pay into the CPF at standard rates, ranging from 20 percent of monthly earnings for employees under the age of 55 to 5 percent for employees over the age of 66. Employers, in turn, contribute 17 percent of monthly earnings for employees under 55, 13 percent for those between 56 and 60, 9 percent for those between 61 to 65 and 7.5 percent thereafter.
CPF funds are allocated to four different schemes: The Ordinary Account (OA) finances investments and health and life insurance, while the Special Account (SA) principally supplies funds for retirement. The MediSave Account (MA) pays for specific hospital-related and medical expenses, and the Retirement Account (RA), which is set up when the employee reaches the age of 55, funds monthly payments upon retirement.
Consider also: What Is the Purpose of a Retirement Plan?
Claiming Benefits With EPF
Employees are eligible to draw down funds from the EPF if they retire at the age of 58 and have 10 years of continuous coverage. The money is paid in a lump sum. An employee may take an early pension at the age of 50 so long as they have 10 years of continuous coverage in EPF, or they may defer retirement to the age of 60 if desired.
At the time of retirement, the employee receives the full amount of the provident fund, with both employee and employer contributions. In special circumstances, an employee may request partial (or even full) advances on their account prior to retirement; for instance, to pay for medical needs or a child's marriage.
CPF Fund Withdrawal
For each of the four CPF schemes discussed above, funds can be withdrawn when the employee reaches the age of 55, at which point the money is paid in a lump sum. However, many exceptions permit the employee to draw down funds prior to the age of 55.
If the employee leaves Singapore or is diagnosed with a serious illness, they are immediately eligible to withdraw money from the Ordinary Account, Special Account or Retirement Account. Funds may also be drawn from the MediSave account to cover costs like hospitalizations, insurance premiums and some outpatient expenses.