- Many financial assistance schemes are available to persons with disabilities to help them defray the costs of disability support, using assistive technology, securing financial independence and funding their education.
- Many subsidies require you to undertake a means-test to assess your eligibility and how much support you get.
This is a common term that caregivers and persons with disabilities will come across when applying for social supports, be they assistance schemes, subsidies, care services, etc.
A means-test is a way to determine the amount of subsidy a person will receive. Please be aware that:
- Different means-tests are used in different schemes and services
- Even if the same means-test is used, depending on the scheme or service, you could end up with different subsidy levels – or no subsidy, if your means-tested income exceeds the stated income ceiling
Household Income (HHI) is one form of means-test. Per Capita Income (PCI) is another. PCI is computed by dividing the gross household income by the number of members in the household.
Actions To take
- Check your eligibility for subsidies when enrolling your child in an ECDA-licensed child care centre.
Subsidies for infant and child care
All parents with Singapore Citizen children enrolled in child care centres licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) are eligible for subsidies.
The Basic Subsidy, which is not means-tested, is for everyone. There is also the Additional Subsidy, which is means-tested and for mothers or single fathers working 56 hours or more per month. The subsidy calculator helps you to compute your subsidy eligibility. More information can be found in ECDA's website.
Low-income families can apply for ComCare Child Care Subsidies for further assistance.
- The child needs to be a Singapore Citizen and placed in “affordable” child care centres
- Both parents should be working at least 56 hours per month, or have valid reasons for not working. These include: being certified as a full-time caregiver for a dependent, being on medical leave, looking for work, or incarcerated
Eligible families can approach their respective child care centre for information and application.
All government-funded centres that offer the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) have subsidies in to help families defray EIPIC fees. There is also another subsidy scheme, Enhanced Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP), for parents with children enrolled in selected private intervention centres (PICs). Both EIPIC and PPIP subsides are means-tested.
Information on EIPIC fees payable after means-testing can be found below:
Information on PPIP fees payable after means-testing:
Singapore Citizens may also tap the government's Baby Bonus scheme, to offset EIPIC and PPIP fees.
Subsidies for kindergarten fees
ComCare Kindergarten Subsidies – also known as the Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) – provide means-tested fee assistance to families with Singapore Citizen children attending kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery (K2, K1, N or pre-N) programmes run by Anchor Operators or the Ministry of Education.
Actions To take
- Speak directly to your child’s school to find out more about the Financial Assistance Schemes that are available.
- Apply for the Skills Future Study Award if you are a mid-careerist looking to enrol in a course.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) as well as individual mainstream and Special Education (SPED) schools provide various forms of financial assistance to their students, including cash grants and assistance in kind, such as free textbooks.
Financial assistance for SPED school students
SPED Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS)
Singapore Citizens from low-income families attending SPED schools may be eligible for SPED FAS, which is provided by MOE and National Council of Social Service.
This scheme is means-tested. Eligible students get a full waiver of school fees, textbooks and school attire. Apply at the child’s SPED school directly.
Financial assistance from SPED schools
Individual SPED schools also offer their own forms of financial assistance to students. For example, all MOE-funded SPED schools are given a grant for Discretionary Financial Assistance (DFA), to be given out by the school. Caregivers may wish to ask their respective SPED school for more information.
There are various financial assistance schemes by MOE, depending on the school type – government and government-aided schools, independent schools, Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). The schemes are means-tested unless indicated otherwise:
Schools may also have their own financial assistance schemes. Approach your school for more information.
Other sources of financial support
PSEA is an account maintained by the government for Singapore Citizens, to help parents save for their child’s post-secondary education. It is administered by MOE and is open to all eligible Singapore Citizens.
PSEA account holders can use their PSEA funds to pay for their own or their siblings' fees and charges for approved programmes at:
- Autonomous universities, polytechnics and arts institutions (LASALLE College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts)
- Public and private training providers
- Government-supported SPED schools
- SG Enable
For more information on using PSEA funds, see below:
SFSA is a $5,000 award for early to mid-career Singapore Citizens to go for courses that deepen their skills, or acquire complementary skills needed for their jobs. It can be used on top of existing government course fee subsidies.
There are over 40 categories of SFSA, administered by different agencies, which are open to the public. SG Enable also administers SFSA for Persons with Disabilities, an award to help persons with disabilities enhance their employability. Supported courses include local and overseas executive courses, as well as Bachelor, Master and Specialist Diploma programmes.
Actions to take
- Consider further skills training to improve your employability.
- Look at the list of subsidies available for training below, including SkillsFuture credits, Workfare Training Support, and the Mediacorp Enable Fund.
For adults with disabilities, getting a job is a step towards financial security and participation in society. For help in getting a job, persons with disabilities can refer to SG Enable.
Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions
Under the CPF Act, employers must contribute CPF if their employees earn more than $50 a month, regardless of whether the employee is working on a permanent, part-time, contract or casual basis.
This applies to employees with disabilities as well. However, persons with disabilities enrolled in Sheltered Workshops are not considered employees and therefore not covered by the CPF Act.
If an employer is not contributing CPF, employees can inform CPF Board by visiting any CPF Service Centre or calling 1800-221-9922.
WIS supplements the income of low-wage earners who are Singapore Citizens and currently employed. The government gives employees with disabilities $1,500 to $3,600 a year in CPF contributions and cash. The employee does not need to apply for WIS as CPF Board will automatically assesses an individual’s eligibility based on CPF contributions, and make the necessary payments.
Actions to take
- Consider further skills training to improve your chances of getting employed.
- There are many subsidies for training, including SkillsFuture credits, Workfare Training Support, and the Mediacorp Enable Fund.
Like any other employee, persons with disabilities can benefit from training to enhance their job prospects and upgrade their skills.
SG Enable subsidises training providers to develop and conduct work-related courses customised to persons with disabilities, to keep fees low for trainees. In addition, trainees may also be able to use SkillsFuture credits and/or Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) to pay for the courses.
As of Jan 2016, all Singapore Citizens aged 25 and above will receive $500 of SkillsFuture Credits. It can be used to defray out-of-pocket course fees for approved courses. These include courses customised for persons with disabilities supported by SG Enable. The credits do not expire and the government will provide periodic top-ups.
As part of efforts to encourage people to take ownership of their skills development, a one-off top-up pf $500 will be provided to all citizens aged 25 and above as at 31 December 2020. This top-up expires on 31 December 2025.
Responses to frequently asked questions on SkillsFuture credits can be found below:
WSS encourages low wage workers to undertake training that leads to more impactful employment outcomes.
Eligible individuals may receive:
- Training allowance for selected courses that individuals had paid for themselves
- A cash reward for completing training
To qualify for the scheme, person with disabilities must fulfil the following criteria:
- Singapore citizen age 13 years old or above.
- Employed and earning a gross monthly income of not more than $2,300 for the month worked for the past 12 months and
- Fulfils the WIS eligibility criteria of housing annual value (AV), property ownership and spousal income. The WIS criteria of housing AV, property ownership and spousal income are as follows:
- Lives in a property with an annual value of $13,000 or less assessed as at 31 December of the preceding year
- Owns less than two properties
- If married:
- The individual and his/her spouse own less than two properties together; or
- The assessable income of the individual’s spouse for the preceding Year of Assessment is $70,000 or less.
Persons with disabilities can also tap on community funding to cover the cost of training. For example, among other things, the Mediacorp Enable Fund (MEF) funds the aspirations of persons with disabilities that are beyond their families’ financial means. This includes supporting them with course fees and other expenses related to their training.
Actions to take
A person with disabilities employing a foreign domestic worker (FDW), or a person employing an FDW to look after a young child or elderly person, may be eligible to pay a concessionary rate of $60 a month for the FDW Levy, instead of $265. FDWLC is not means-tested.
There are three schemes:
- Young child or grandchild scheme (for care recipients aged below 16)
- Aged person scheme (for care recipients aged 65 and above)
- Persons with disabilities scheme
- The care recipient must be a Singapore Citizen (with exceptions under the Aged Person Scheme)
- The care recipient must be the employer of the FDW OR a relative of the employer
- Where the care recipient is the employer’s relative, he must live at the same address as the employer
A “relative” refers to a spouse, child/ child-in-law, grandchild/ grandchild-in-law, sibling/ sibling-in-law, parent/ parent-in-law, grandparent/ grandparent-in-law.
The Young Child Or Grandchild Scheme and the Aged Person Scheme support care recipients regardless of whether they have a disability.
For the former, the Ministry of Manpower will grant the concession automatically if the eligibility criteria are met. For the latter, the concession is granted automatically if the employer has submitted all the relevant information in the FDW employment application.
The Persons with Disabilities Scheme, as its name suggests, is dedicated to persons with disabilities. Subject to the general criteria, a person with disabilities can apply for this scheme if he employs an FDW. A person can also apply if he is employing an FDW to look after a relative with disabilities.
There is no age criterion. But the care recipient has to be assessed for functional needs, so the Young Child or Grandchild and Aged Person Schemes may be more relevant options if the care recipient meets the respective age criteria.
For this scheme, the care recipient needs to be certified by a qualified assessor as being permanently unable to perform at least one activity of daily living (ADL) i.e. eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, and walking or moving around. Persons with ASD or ID can also choose to be assessed using the Client Assessment Form (CAF).
This scheme is administered by Agency for Integrated Care (AIC). More information on eligibility and application are found below:
(The Home Caregiving Grant replaces the Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Grant from October 2019)
The Home Caregiving Grant (HCG) is a $200 monthly cash payout to help families support their loved ones with permanent moderate to severe disabilities.
This grant can be used to defray expenses relating to caregiving, such as the costs of eldercare and caregiver support services in the community, or hiring of a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW).
To be eligible for HCG, the care recipient must:
- Be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident (with a parent, child or spouse who is a Singapore Citizen) living in Singapore
- Have a household monthly income of $2,800 or less per person, or an annual value of property less than $13,000 for households without income
- Not reside in a residential long-term care institution (e.g. nursing home)
- Be assessed to require support with at least 3 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) via the Functional Assessment Report (FAR) or Client Assessment Form (CAF)
- Care recipients with intellectual disabilities or autism can choose to be assessed for their level of needs support for ADL via CAF.
HCG is administered by Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) – For more information and application, click here.
Use this employment agencies and personnel search service from MOM to find employment agencies for foreign workers, foreign domestic workers or confinement nannies that match your needs.
The grant is a $200 annual subsidy for approved courses that caregivers wish to attend to better care for their loved ones. However, the subsidy is tied to the care recipient, i.e. if multiple caregivers of the same care recipient wish to attend the training, the subsidy will need to be shared among the caregivers.
Assistive Technology and IT
Actions to take
- Consider tapping on the various schemes and funds to purchase and repair assistive technology devices and support services.
This programme offers means-tested subsidies to students (aged 25 and below) and persons with disabilities from low-income households buying a new computer.
- PC-Bundle Scheme: helps eligible applicants to own a new computer with free software and three years of free broadband subscription
- iNSPIRE Fund Scheme: offers financial assistance to those who cannot afford to co-pay for the computer applied under PC-Bundle Scheme
ATF is a means-tested subsidy that helps defray up to 90% of the cost of buying, replacing and repairing assistive technology (AT) devices used for education, employment, training and independent living. There is a lifetime cap of $40,000 for the subsidies. Both Singapore Citizens and PRs are eligible.
Applicants will need to be assessed by professionals e.g. therapists in hospitals and SSAs, who will also prescribe suitable devices and submit the application for the applicant. ATF can be used to subsidise the costs of devices related to home modifications, such as grab bars and ramps, but not those related to vehicle modifications.
SMF is a means-tested subsidy for the purchase of AT devices and home healthcare items, to support elderly Singapore Citizens aged 60 and above. Assistive devices supported under SMF include walking sticks, wheelchairs, pressure relief cushions and commodes, as well as home healthcare products like milk supplements and adult diapers.
Special Education Needs (SEN) Fund
This fund by the Ministry of Education (MOE) helps to defray the costs of buying MOE-approved AT devices or support services. Only Polytechnic and ITE students with physical or sensory impairment are which are Singapore Citizens are eligible.
Publicly-funded universities and arts institutions such as Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) have their own SEN Funds. Students with disabilities can check with the school for more information.
The EASE programme subsidises the cost of home modifications to make HDB apartments more senior friendly. Subsidies are computed based on the type of HDB flat e.g. 3-room, executive flat.
Flat owners who are Singapore Citizens qualify for EASE if a family member in the household is
- 65 years old and above; or
- 60 and 64 years old and requires assistance with at least 1 Activity of Daily Living (ADL)
Improvement items include slip resistance treatment for floor tiles, grab bars in toilets and single and multi-step ramps.
Actions to take
- Set up a trust fund or set aside your CPF savings to provide income for your loved ones when you are no longer around.
- Consider insurance policies to give your loved one financial stability.
For more information pertaining to guardianship of children with special needs, visit our Child & Adult Care page.
A burning issue with many caregivers is about caring for their loved ones with disabilities when they themselves are no longer around. Financial security is not all there is to it, but it is very important.
Trust funds can provide a steady income stream for persons with disabilities when their caregiver passes on. With a minimum sum of $5,000, caregivers can set up a trust fund through the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC), the only non-profit company with trust services for persons with disabilities. SNTC will help the caregiver work out how much money to set aside in a trust fund and how the funds will be disbursed upon the demise or incapacity of the caregiver. SNTC will act according to the caregiver’s wishes in disbursing the money. To find out how to set up a trust, see below:
SNTC also administers the Special Needs Saving Scheme, which enables parents of children with special needs to set aside their CPF savings for the child’s long-term care. Under this scheme, parents can nominate the child as a beneficiary of their CPF monies when they pass on. The child will receive monthly payouts of an amount pre-determined by the parents until the savings are exhausted.
DPS is a term insurance that provides an insured member and their family with up to $46,000 to get through the first few years should the insured member pass away, or suffer from a terminal Illness or total permanent disability before turning 60.
DPS is automatically extended to CPF members who are Singapore Citizens and PRs aged 21 – 60, who have made their first CPF contribution. The insured member can nominate who will receive the insurance benefits.
This free insurance scheme by NTUC Income aims to help lower-income families with young children in times of crises. Under the scheme, when the parent/ guardian passes away or becomes totally and permanently disabled, the family is eligible for a $5,000 payout, subject to terms and conditions. NTUC Income also offers an additional payout capped at $5,000 that matches the collective bank balances of the parent/ guardian and his family unit.
- Parents/ guardians of a family receiving assistance from NTUC’s My First Skool or MOE Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) (Primary School) will be automatically covered under IFMISS
- The insured must be aged between 16 and 65 years old (age next birthday)
This basic health insurance plan protects all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents against large hospital bills for life, regardless of age or health conditions. Those with pre-existing and congenital conditions are covered as well. Premiums are paid from your MediSave account.
NTUC SpecialCare Insurance
This insurance plan by NTUC Income provides coverage for medical expenses due to accidents and infectious diseases. The policy holder must be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, and be a parent or legal guardian of a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome or Autism.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provides various forms of financial assistance under the ComCare banner. The eligibility criteria and amount of financial help vary across the schemes; click the respective links below for more information.
ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance is generally for families that need financial help for a temporary period. The scheme caters to families with a monthly household income of $1,900 and below, or a per capita income of $650.
ComCare Long Term Assistance, also known as Public Assistance, is intended to help people who are permanently unable to work and need help to support themselves.
If financial assistance is needed urgently for fewer than three months, there is also the ComCare Interim Assistance Scheme.
To apply for any of the ComCare schemes, go to your nearest Social Service Office (SSO) to find out more. Officers there will assess your application to determine if you qualify.
Tax deductions (reliefs, rebates, expenses and donations) are given to encourage social and economic objectives such as filial piety, family formation and the advancement of skills. There are also tax deductions available for persons with disabilities and their caregivers to help reduce taxes.
TYPES OF RELIEFS
Handicapped Child Relief
Handicapped Child Relief is given to parents in supporting their children.
Handicapped Spouse Relief
Handicapped Spouse Relief recognizes both male and female taxpayers who have supported their spouses.
Handicapped Parent Relief
Handicapped Parent Relief is given to promote filial piety and recognizes individuals who are supporting their parents, grandparents, parents-in-law or grandparents-in-law in Singapore.
Handicapped Brother/Sister Relief
Handicapped Brother/Sister Relief is given to recognize individuals supporting their handicapped siblings and siblings-in-law.
Handicapped Earned Income Relief
Earned Income Relief is for individuals who are gainfully employed or carrying on a trade, business, profession or vocation. A higher Earned Income Relief will be given to those with permanent physical or mental disability that severely affects their ability to work.
Resources and support
- Subsidies for infant care and child care
- EIPIC and PPIP fees after means-testing
- Subsidies for kindergarten fees
- MOE financial assistance for mainstream school students
- Training and skills upgrading schemes and funds
- Assistive Technology and IT schemes and funds
- Set up a trust fund for your loved ones
- Financial assistance from Comcare