Guide to ElderShield & CareShield Life

As Singaporeans age, more resources will be needed to support long term care needs. CPF has two insurance schemes that help to provide support for Singaporeans to tackle concerns around long term disability care.

Sihan Chia

by Sihan Chia on Mar 4, 2024

retiree contemplating retirement

Note: The ElderShield scheme is no longer taking in new applicants.

As you get older, your insurance needs change as your risk of disability and illness increases. ElderShield and CareShield Life are government insurance schemes that provide a monthly cash payout in the event of a severe disability, resulting in the inability to carry out activities of daily living (ADL). In this guide, we discuss in detail what ElderShield was, its new replacement, CareShield Life, and their benefits, costs and other important information.

Table of Contents

What is ElderShield?

ElderShield is an insurance plan that provides a basic monthly cash payout if you were to become severely physically disabled. A severe physical disability means you are unable to perform at least three Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) without or without mobility aids. 

careshield adl

ADLs include eating, bathing, dressing, transferring (e.g. moving from a chair to a bed), using the bathroom or walking/moving around. You will be automatically enrolled as soon as you turn 40 years of age and you will remain covered for life. Your policy will be underwritten by one of three insurers, Income (formerly NTUC Income), Aviva or Great Eastern.

ElderShield Benefits

There were two types of ElderShield Plans: The first is the ElderShield 300, which was for policyholders who became eligible for coverage between September 2002 to August 2007. The current plan is ElderShield 400, which has been the plan since September 2007. ElderShield 400 has increased the monthly payout by S$100 and increased the payout duration from five years to six years.

One benefit of ElderShield coverage is that your pre-existing illnesses (such as diabetes or heart disease) won’t be excluded from coverage. However, this doesn’t apply to prior severe disabilities. Thus, if you were severely disabled before the age of 40, you won’t be eligible for claims.

You can also enhance your coverage by adding supplemental coverage. For instance, additional benefits include a monthly disability benefit of up to S$3,000, a dependent care benefit, a get-well benefit (cash payout if you recover) or death benefit (cash payout if you die). Depending on your insurer, your supplemental coverage may also reduce the qualifying amount of ADLs from three to two and increase the amount of years your monthly payouts will continue.

ElderShield Premium Payments

ElderShield premiums are standard across all three insurers. You will start paying premiums when you become automatically enrolled until the policy anniversary after your 65th birthday. If you choose to defer coverage until ages 47-64, then you will pay premiums for 20 years. Your premiums for ElderShield will not change or increase over time. However, your premiums for ElderShield’s supplementary plans may change.

You can pay for ElderShield by cash or using your or your family’s MediSave (up to a limit of S$600 per calendar year).

What is CareShield Life?

Starting from 2020, there have not been any new auto-enrolments into ElderShield as the programme was changed to CareShield Life. CareShield Life is essentially the same policy as ElderShield— it is a mandatory government insurance policy that provides financial support for severe physical disability.

However, unlike ElderShield, CareShield Life is completely administered by the government. You will be automatically covered when you turn 30 if you were born after 1990. If you were born between 1980-1990, you would have been automatically covered on October 1st 2020 or when you turn 30. If you are born prior to 1979, your participation is optional since you are covered under ElderShield, but you can apply to join CareShield Life from the end of 2021 if you are not severely disabled.

CareShield Life Benefits

CareShield Life will provide long-term financial protection. Unlike ElderShield, which provided monthly payments for 5-6 years, CareShield Life will provide lifetime cash payouts as long as you remain physically disabled.

From 2020 to 2025, monthly payouts will start at S$600/month and have a non-guaranteed increase of 2% annually until you turn 67. Your pre-existing disabilities will not exclude you from coverage. Once you make a claim, you will stop paying premiums and start receiving your monthly payout. Coverage is also worldwide, as long as you are a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident.

careshield life payouts

Source: Ministry of Health

You will also be eligible to get supplemental coverage for CareShield Life if you want to increase your monthly payouts. There is no current information about the types of Supplements available for CareShield Life.

CareShield Life Premiums

Your premiums will depend on your age and gender. Unlike ElderShield premiums which don’t change, CareShield Life premiums will increase 2% for the first 5 years of the scheme implementation, and then they will increase by an amount decided by an independent council. The reason for the increase in premiums is to match the increase in payouts and keep the fund sustainable. You will need to pay premiums from age 30 until you turn 67 or make a claim. The older you are when you start receiving coverage, the higher your premiums will be. You can pay for your CareShield Life premiums fully through Medisave.

If you can’t afford your CareShield Life premiums, you will be eligible for Additional Premium Support. To learn more, you can call the HealthCare hotline at 1800-222-3399.

Complementary Coverage

If you would like to receive additional coverage for death, critical illness or other health concerns (including greater disability coverage), you can consider private insurers. Since CareShield Life only provides basic disability benefits, you may want to consider plans like life insurance (provides death, terminal illness and additional total and permanent disability coverage), critical illness coverage (coverage of illnesses like cancer and liver disease) and personal accident insurance (covers you if you get injured in an accident). Though we don’t recommend you get all of these at once unless you can afford to do so and require the protection, these types of plans are good starting points for people who want to make sure they will have financial stability in the event of a life-changing accident or illness.

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