*Updated on 25 February 2021
UPDATE: EPF Malaysia recently announced the relaxing of the i-Sinar facility criteria. The EPF i-Sinar allows all affected members to access and withdraw savings from account 1 over six months.
More than 8 million members will be able to apply to withdraw funds from their Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) Account 1 from next month under the EPF i-Sinar programme. The idea is that this will help those who have been impacted by the prolonged pandemic to make ends meet.
However, it is important to note that this is not a withdrawal. EPF/ KWSP considers this an advance on your future retirement payments and expects you to replace the funds that you have received. If this is something that you think you may need, then here’s how it works. But before that, do know the pros and cons of EPF Account 1 approval so you’re aware of the benefits and consequences.
1. What is the EPF i-Sinar facility?
EPF i-Sinar or i-Sinar KWSP is an initiative taken by the EPF and the government under Budget 2021 to cover active members who face deep financial hardship for six months. A total estimated value of RM70 bil to be made available for withdrawals. The i-Sinar facility is an extension of the i-Lestari programme which allows withdrawal of up to RM500 a month from Account 2 slated to end in March next year.
2. How much money from EPF Account 1 can you withdraw?
In general, you have access to 10% of your total Account 1 savings – as long as you maintain a minimum balance of RM100. However, the actual amount you can withdraw under the i-Sinar initiative is determined by how much you have in your account.
Your advance will be staggered over six months, with the first amount being credited into your bank account at the end of the month following your application. For example, if you apply for the i-Sinar facility in December 2020, you will receive the first advance at the end of January 2021
You will also have the option to front-load your withdrawals by taking a bigger lump sum at the start. The amount that you can withdraw in your first month also depends on your savings. The maximum eligible withdrawal amount has also been increased from RM9,000 to RM10,000. Here’s an example of how it works:
|Account 1 savings RM100,000 and below||Account 1 savings above RM100,000|
|Maximum withdrawal of RM10,000
(subject to RM100 remaining balance at all times)
|Maximum withdrawal of 10% of Account 1 savings (capped at RM60,000)|
|First month advance of up to RM5,000||First month advance of up to RM10,000|
Source: Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF)
3. Who is eligible and what are the requirements for EPF i-Sinar application?
LATEST UPDATE – Government relaxes i-Sinar rules: EPF Malaysia recently announced the relaxing of the i-Sinar facility criteria to further ease members’ withdrawal of EPF Account 1 money. The EPF will announce more information on this on its official communication channels. Also, EPF members aged below 55 years old who have applied for the i-Sinar facility will be able to check on their approval status beginning 8 March 2021 at the iSinar online portal.
EPF i-Sinar facility eligibility criteria are as follows:
Eligible members include workers in:
- The formal sector
- Self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy, those who have not contributed to the EPF for a period of time
- Have lost their jobs
- Given no pay leave.
The criteria for Category 1 is as follows:
1. Members who have not contributed to the EPF for at least two (2) consecutive months on the application; OR
2. Members who are still working but have suffered a reduction of their base salary by 30% and above from March 2020 onwards.
For this category:
- Supporting documents are not required;
- Approval is automatic based on EPF’s internal data;
- Members will only need to apply online via isinar.kwsp.gov.my beginning 21 December 2020.
Payment for eligible members under this category will be done from the middle of January 2021.
This category includes members whose total income has been reduced by 30% and above (total income including base salary and other benefits such as allowances and overtime) from 1 March 2020 onwards, whereby the said reduction can only be verified with supporting documents.
To expedite the verification process, the EPF will require supporting documents from members as stated below:
- Salary slip before and after reduction of income; and
- Employer’s notice of suspension or reduction of allowances and/or overtime claims.
For members who are not able to provide the supporting documents as mentioned above, other relevant supporting documents such as bank statement or employer’s written acknowledgement will be given due consideration.
Members who fall under this category can start applying online via isinar.kwsp.gov.my beginning 11 January 2021. The online EPF i-Sinar application is open until 30 June 2021.
To ensure due consideration is given for applications, member’s application status will be notified to members within two to three weeks after their application is submitted. Payment will be done before the end of the following month after the application is approved.
4. When can you start applying for EPF i-Sinar?
Applications for EPF i-Sinar will begin in December 2020 and must be made at iSinar Online. The money will be credited into the members’ accounts by the end of the month following their i-Sinar application. Since it will begin in December 2020, the first crediting will take place in January 2021. Advances will be made over six (6) months from the first date of credit.
If you’re not sure of what is the right amount to be withdrawn under the i-Sinar initiative, you may first seek advice from EPF’s Retirement Advisory Services (RAS) or the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK)/Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit. To ensure the application process is smooth, members are advised to register for i-Akaun, update their mobile number to receive the Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC) at EPF kiosk or counter, as well as ensure that their bank account number is active.
5. Do you have to pay it back?
The answer is yes. While you do not have to directly give the money back, it will affect your future EPF contributions. What happens is that 100% of your future contributions will be deposited into Account 1 until you replace the amount that you received under i-Sinar (as opposed to only 70% being deposited into Account 1 and the remainder 30% going to Account 2).
The effect of this is that you may have less in your EPF Account 2 in the long run. This may impact you if you plan to make withdrawals for education or to buy a house in the future.
You should also take note that the minimum EPF contribution for 2021 is being reduced to 9% under the recent Budget 2021 proposal. This means that you will be returning substantially less than the previous 11% contribution, in addition to the 7% contribution rate that was introduced from April to December 2020
6. Should you take the EPF i-Sinar advance?
If you have lost your job and are struggling not only to pay the bills but in danger of losing your home or losing your insurance coverage, then this is something you should consider. After all, your future is somewhat less important than surviving the present. That said, you should carefully consider just how much you need and avoid taking too much out of your EPF account (because you will be replacing it).
However, if you have emergency savings (which we recommend) then it is better to avoid touching your EPF funds. Those savings are meant for times like this, and you should not hesitate to use them first.
In this case, it is more important to leave your EPF funds alone if you can afford it. Emergency savings are for emergencies like now, the EPF money is saving for your future retirement (and your future self will thank you for it).
For further inquiries on the i-Sinar facility, please contact the EPF at 03-8922 6000 or visit kwsp.gov.my for more information.
Edited by Rebecca Hani Romeli
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