Taking the Means Test
1. What is the Means Test?
The Means Test assesses your financial circumstances to determine if you have limited means.
From 16 October 2019, applicants for legal aid must meet the following criteria:
(a) The average Per Capita Gross Monthly Household Income (PCHI) must be $950 or lower for the last 12 months prior to the application;
(b) The Annual Value of applicant’s place of residence owned by the applicant must be $13,000 or lower; and
(c) The applicant’s savings and non-CPF investments must be $10,000 or lower, if he is younger than 60 years old. Applicants aged 60 and above are allowed to have savings and non-CPF investments of $40,000 or lower.
The applicant must not own any other property besides his/her place of residence.
2. What is Average Per Capita Monthly Household Income (PCHI)?
The Average PCHI is the average gross household income for the last 12 months divided by the total number of household members (including the applicant).
“Gross income” refers to the gross wages or salaries before deduction of CPF contributions and personal income tax. It comprises basic wages, overtime pay, commissions, tips, other allowances, and bonuses. For self-employed persons, gross income refers to profits from their business, trade or profession (i.e. total receipts less business expenses incurred) before the deduction of income tax.
“Household members” refers to persons related by blood, marriage and/or legal adoption and have the same residential address reflected on the NRIC as the applicant for legal aid.
The MinLaw Services Centre will calculate the PCHI as part of the means test, based on the supporting documents.
3. How are savings and non-CPF investments calculated?
This is done by adding up the value of the following assets that you own in your name:
a) Bank accounts savings (personal or joint);
b) Overall value of shares in your Central Depository (CDP) account; and
c) Any other financial/investment products with a cash value, such as fixed deposit accounts at financial institutions, and shares, bonds and exchange traded funds aside from those in your CDP account.
4. What happens if I fail the means test but I really cannot afford to pay for a private lawyer?
If you fail the means test but you have certain reasons or information that you think makes your situation different or special, for example if you have a very serious illness and cannot afford legal services as you need to pay for major medical procedures, you may contact the MinLaw Services Centre for further assistance.