KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — To ease the financial burden of Malaysians during the Covid-19 outbreak, the prime minister had announced last week that Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members will be allowed to withdraw up to RM500/month from their account. This withdrawal facility which is known as i-Lestari, will be available starting 1st April 2020 and here’s what you need to know
Eligibility and withdrawal period
i-Lestari is available for Malaysian citizens, permanent residents and non-Malaysians aged 55 and below that has an EPF account. The facility will allow members to take out funds only from Account 2.
Each member will be permitted to withdraw from a minimum of RM50 to a maximum of RM500 per month, and the scheme will be available from April 2020 to 31 March 2021 (12 months).
If your application is approved in April, you can withdraw for a total of 12 months (April 2020 – March 2021). However, if your application is approved in September, you can only withdraw for 7 months (September 2020 – March 2021).
Do note that the approved withdrawal amount is also subject to the total amount of savings that you have in Account 2. If the remaining balance is lower than your applied amount, you’ll receive a reduced amount in your subsequent withdrawals. Once your application is approved, the applied monthly withdrawal amount will be fixed and you can’t change the amount halfway.
How is the withdrawal transferred?
The earliest disbursement for i-Lestari is in May. According to the EPF’s FAQ, if you applied in April 2020, the payment will be disbursed in May 2020. For applications received after April 2020, you will receive payment from the date when the application is received by the EPF.
The i-Lestari withdrawals will be credited to your registered bank account.
How do you apply?
The easiest and recommended method is to apply online via the Member’s i-Akaun. Just go to the official portal, login to your i-Akaun, then go to the “Withdrawal” section. The i-Lestari option will be available from 1st April.
Alternatively, you can submit a form via [email protected].
The last option is to submit the form via postal service. All applications must be addressed to:
Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja, Karung Berkunci No 220, Jalan Sultan 46720, Petaling Jaya.
You are also urged to add a note: (Attention to: i-Lestari) on the front of the envelope.
According to the EPF, they would recommend an online application for faster approval as the email and post option will take a longer time for verification. Unfortunately, for non-Malaysian EPF members, you can only apply via email or post. The actual form is not ready yet and we’ll update this post once it is available.
Applications will be available from 1st April 2020 until 31st March 2021. Remember that the earlier you apply, you will be eligible to withdraw more under the program.
Should you withdraw?
Some have argued that withdrawing from EPF is not a good idea as you’re utilising funds that are meant for your retirement. According to the Prime Minister, the facility is meant to help all Malaysian families to put food on the table. He also urged Malaysians to use the withdrawals wisely and to use it to buy necessities or pay for rent or utility bills.
Unlike the EPF member contribution rate reduction to 7 per cent, the withdrawal facility is not offered automatically and you will have to apply for it. The i-Lestari facility will allow you to withdraw from Account 2 which accounts for 30 per cent of your total EPF account.
Even before this i-Lestari program was introduced, EPF members can already withdraw funds from Account 2 to pay for children’s education, housing, Hajj and medical expenses. Meanwhile, Account 1 which holds 70 per cent of your entire balance is still reserved for your retirement.
Of course, if you don’t really need the extra cash, it is advisable to keep your money for retirement. The RM500 per month that you save in your EPF account can go a long way with the annual dividends. However, for Malaysians that are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the extra RM500 could be a lifeline to support their family.