Whether a victim of unfortunate circumstances or a series of bad life choices, it is very possible for us to find ourselves falling on hard times and needing a helping hand as we try to get back on our feet.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Social and Family Development is responsible for administering financial assistance to those who need it, and they do so via their network of Social Service Offices (SSOs), which provide one-stop, easily-accessible, and cross-agency assistance for those who need it.
The main source of funds for financial assistance is known as ComCare Fund, which is short for the Community Care Endowment Fund. Established in 2005, it provides sustainable funding for a range of financial help.
As opposed to a “welfare perk”, the way ComCare schemes are designed is to support needy Singaporeans to be more self-reliant, help families break out of the poverty cycle, and maximise the potential of those with special needs.
In general, ComCare support are segregated according to the duration that assistance is required – interim (less than 3 months), short-to-medium-term (more than 3 months), as well as long-term assistance (permanent). Here’s an introduction to each category, and what kind of support can you receive.
ComCare Interim Assistance
ComCare Interim Assistance schemes are meant to provide you and/or your family with urgent and immediate assistance over a period of 3 months or less.
Types of help include cash, vouchers and food rations, with the amount and type of assistance you receive dependent on your household’s situation.
– You need to be Singapore Citizen or PR (have at least one immediate family member in your household who is a Singapore Citizen); and
– Have a total household income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita household income of $650 and below.
ComCare Short-To-Medium-Term Assistance
Comcare Short-To-Medium-Term Assistance schemes are meant to provide temporary help to you and/or your family for household needs through a period of unemployment.
Types of help include monthly cash assistance, medical bill assistance, referral to relevant services, training and employment assistance, as well as rebates to offset your rent, utilities and/or service and conservancy charges.
– You need to be Singapore Citizen or PR; and
– Have at least one immediate family member in your household who is a Singapore Citizen; and
– Have a total household income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita household income of $650 and below; and
– Are looking for work or temporarily unable to work due to illness or have to take care of dependents.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development has stated that even if your household/per capita income exceeds the stipulated amounts, you should still approach a SSO and be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You should be prepared with documentation to support your application.
ComCare Long-Term Assistance (Public Assistance)
Comcare Long-Term Assistance schemes, also known as Public Assistance, is meant to support those who are permanently unable to work and support themselves.
Types of help include cash assistance for daily expenses, enhanced medical subsidies, additional funds for school-going children (up to $150 per child, per month), as well as assistance with recurring medical & hygiene consumables and discretionary assistance with one-off essentials like household appliances & medical equipment.
Long-Term Assistance recipients may also receive free or highly-subsidised access to social services like home help, senior activity centres and day activity centres.
– You need to be Singapore Citizen or PR; and
– Be unable to work due to old age, illness or disability; and
– Have little or no family support, personal savings, or assets to rely on for daily needs; or
– If you are an elderly person who only receives a smaller monthly payout from your CPF, pension or other recurring income, compared to what you would receive from ComCare; and
– If you are an elderly person whose children have a total household income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita household income of $650 and below.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development will assess your eligibility for assistance on a case-by-case basis. You should be prepared with documentation to support your application.
[Update]: ComCare Short- to Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) and Long-Term Assistance (LTA) Schemes Will Be Enhanced From 1 August 2022
Both the ComCare Short- to Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) and Long-Term Assistance (LTA) schemes will be enhanced from 1 August 2022 so as to provide on-going and continuing support for the lower-income and the elderly.
A one-person household under the ComCare Long-Term Assistance (LTA) will receive a higher cash assistance of $640 per month. This is an increase of $40 from the current rate of $600 per month. As for households with more members, they could expect to receive more.
Applicants under the ComCare Short- to Medium-Term Assistance (SMTA) could also expect to receive higher cash assistance and support for their utility expenses. The amount of assistance will vary depending on the applicant’s household composition, needs, and income.
Where To Go To Apply For ComCare And Public Assistance?
The fastest and best way to receive help is to visit the nearest of the 24 operating SSOs islandwide, which are strategically located such that they are within 2km of 95% of needy Singaporeans’ homes or workplaces.
Staff working in SSOs have backgrounds in social work, counselling and are equipped to advise on government schemes and Voluntary Welfare Organisation (VWO) resources available to you, including financial assistance, medical subsidies, employment and training assistance, as well as social services.
But if you wish to call first to make a preliminary enquiry, you can call the toll-free ComCare hotline at 1800 222 0000.
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