Withdrawing Your EPF Savings Early? Here’s What You Need To Know

EPF withdrawal update

In the past two years, the world has been left reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenging economic conditions,  global pension funds have shown strong returns in the past year. The same goes for our Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) which has continued to show encouraging results.

In the first quarter of this year, EPF has recorded a healthy investment return of RM19.29 billion. This represents a massive increase of 58% in income from the RM12.16 billion that was recorded for the first quarter of 2020.

These positive numbers are a testament to EPF’s commitment in managing their members’ investments to ensure the best returns. EPF has always taken the best possible course of action to protect their members’ retirement savings while also catering to their current needs by allowing early withdrawals of their retirement savings.

Will EPF members have enough left for retirement?

Many Malaysians may have found themselves going financially off track during the pandemic and turning to their retirement savings to manage their short-term financial needs. EPF has announced two early withdrawal programmes in response to the pandemic since last year, i-Sinar and i-Lestari. These withdrawal schemes allow affected EPF members to withdraw their retirement savings earlier.

As of March 2021, as many as 5.94 million members have benefited from the i-Sinar programme, with withdrawals of RM52.48 billion approved.

However, statistics on the recent withdrawals by EPF members paint a grim picture for the future. 6.3 million EPF members have less than RM10,000 left in their EPF Account 1, and 9.3 million have less than RM10,000 in their EPF Account 2. Even more worrying, 54% from the 14.6 million EPF members now have less than RM50,000 in their retirement savings.

If EPF members do not have a concrete plan after withdrawing their retirement savings early, they will not have enough saved by the time they retire. However, it’s never too late to start, and EPF members should start rebuilding their retirement fund as soon as possible. For these members, they may end up with less than RM208 a month or less to live on, based on a 20-year lifespan after retirement. This amount falls way below EPF’s minimum targeted retirement savings of RM240,000.

How long will you need to rebuild your retirement savings?

Given the statistics above, many EPF members who took out their retirement savings have to start from scratch again. This begs the question, if you’ve withdrawn all your savings allowed by EPF under the recent early withdrawal programmes, how long will you have to save to achieve the minimum RM240,000 for retirement as targeted by EPF?

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), the average monthly salary in 2019 was RM3,224.  From this average, we can estimate the monthly EPF contribution will amount to RM714.00 (based on member’s contribution at 9% and employer’s contribution at 13%). Taking this average wage-earner as an example, here’s an estimate of how much can be saved for retirement in the next 20 years.

Average monthly salaryRM3,224
EPF total monthly contributionRM714
1-year EPF contributionRM8,568
Total contribution after 20 yearsRM171,360
Total contribution with compounded interest of 5% annually for 20 yearsRM283,309
Source: Sample calculation using online compound interest calculator

From this example, if you work and contribute to your retirement savings regularly for at least another 20 years, you can achieve or even exceed the targeted retirement savings amount of RM240,000. 

This means that if you’re an EPF member who is able to contribute regularly into your retirement fund, you have a chance to rebuild your retirement savings and even grow it over time. But what if you’re not an EPF member?

Consider making voluntary contribution using EPF’s i-Saraan 

Over half of Malaysia’s working age population are not contributing to EPF or eligible for a government pension. These include people who are running their own businesses, are self-employed or work outside the formal labour force. How can they save enough to support themselves in retirement? 

For these people, EPF has introduced a programme called i-Saraan, a voluntary contribution programme. This is to cater for Malaysians who run their own micro businesses, work in the gig economy or those who don’t have a fixed income source. By contributing to EPF, this helps them enjoy the benefits that EPF members enjoy, such as the yearly dividend payment, death benefit and tax relief, plus additional financial contribution from the government.

i-saraan infographic

This initiative allows workers who are not automatically enrolled under their job to contribute voluntarily to their retirement savings. Besides i-Saraan, there are other options under voluntary contribution like top-up savings contribution, self-contribution, and i-Suri to make it easier for more Malaysians to build their retirement savings faster.

Get professional advice from EPF

EPF also offers Retirement Advisory Service (RAS), a professional consultation service to help you plan for your retirement. Through this service, EPF’s professional consultants will guide you through what you can do to grow your retirement savings. 

Along with this, RAS is also running awareness and financial education programmes. If you’re an EPF member, all these programmes are available for free.

If you’re looking for other options to grow your retirement savings, you can also opt to contribute to Private Retirement Schemes (PRS). You can start your retirement savings from as low as RM100 (depending on your chosen provider). Even better, every new member of PRS who enrols through PRS Online will enjoy a waiver on registration fees.

Another option is to continue working past retirement. This may even be a necessity for some people. Although the official retirement age in Malaysia is 60 years old, working past retirement can help to grow your retirement savings. This can be done by working part time, or maybe turning a passion into an income-generating project. This also helps broaden your horizons to try something new and at the same time allow you to stretch your retirement savings further.

Although every individual’s financial journey is different, what’s important is the awareness and the preparedness to save money for your retirement even through hard times. After all, it is our own responsibility to save enough to afford a comfortable retirement in future.

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