What is the Means test?
1. What is the Means Test?
The Means test determines your financial eligibility for legal aid by looking at an applicant’s disposable income and disposable capital.
2. What is required under the Means Test?
Only persons with a disposable income of not more than S$10,000 per year and a disposable capital of not more than S$10,000 may be granted legal aid.
You may utilise the Means Test indicator to see if you qualify under the Means Test. *This is merely a guide to indicate whether you may be financially eligible to qualify for legal aid and the results of the indicator are no guarantee that you will pass the means test.
If you pass the preliminary assessment done during the registration of your case, your means will be formally assessed at your first appointment at LAB. You will be required to swear a Statutory Declaration before a Commissioner for Oaths as to your means.
A false declaration to LAB may lead to criminal prosecution.
3. What is disposable income?
Disposable income is your total income together with your spouse’s income (if any) for the past 12 months, after deducting
- an amount up to S$6,000 per year for each person totally or partially dependent on yourself or your spouse (e.g. child);
- an amount equal to S$6,000 per year for yourself;
- an amount not exceeding S$20,000 per year for rent; and
- an amount equal to your contribution to the Central Provident Fund.
4. What is disposable capital?
Disposable capital is the property which you possess or to which you are entitled to, excluding
- the subject-matter of the proceedings (eg., if you are applying for a divorce, any property owned by you which may be considered as matrimonial property, which is subject to division, is excluded);
- your clothes;
- your tools of trade;
- your household furniture in your home;
- a dwelling-house owned and exclusively used by you and your family as your home assessed at an IRAS annual value of not more than S$13,000; or a Housing and Development Board flat owned and exclusively used by you and your family as your home;
- your savings of up to S$30,000, if you are aged 60 years and above;
- your Central Provident Fund (CPF) money in your CPF account; and
- up to $46,000 of total surrender value of life insurance policies.
5. Means Test Indicator: How do I calculate if I am likely to qualify for Legal Aid?
The Means Test Indicator is merely a guide to indicate whether you may be financially eligible to qualify for legal aid and the results of the indicator are no guarantee that you will pass the means test. You will still have to come personally to the LAB to have your means assessed. (Foreign applicants under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCCAICA) do not need to come personally to the LAB.)
|1. If you own any motor vehicle, what is its value?||$||What was your total monthly income for the last 12 months?||$|
|2. Do you own any property other than a HDB flat?||Yes / No||
What was the income of your spouse for the last 12 months?
(Your spouse's income may be disregarded in certain situations e.g. applications for divorce proceedings)
|3. If the answer to Question 2 is yes, what is the (a) annual value of the property? (b) value of the property?||$||LESS DEDUCTIONS|
|4. What amount do you have by way of savings in banks/ financial companies in joint/ personal accounts?||$||
|5. If you own any other assets, for example shares, insurance policies, what is their value?||$||
Working Spouse Deductions (if any)
|Rent paid by you (if any), subject to a maximum sum of S$20,000 per year|
|Total Disposable Capital||$||Total Disposable Income
(i.e. Total Income less Total Deductions)
You should note that the limits for the total disposable capital and the total disposable income are S$10,000 each. This means that if you have more than S$10,000 for either disposal capital or disposal income, you will have failed the Means Test.
6. What can I do if I am facing financial hardship?
If you do not satisfy the Means Test but are facing financial hardship, you should inform us of the hardship that you are facing, as the Director of Legal Aid has the discretion under the Act to determine whether to grant you further deductions for the relief of hardship in exceptional cases.
7. How does the Director exercise his discretion to determine if I am facing hardship?
The Director of Legal Aid may exercise his discretion where:
a) You are living separate and apart from your spouse and where it appears to the Director in his absolute discretion to be reasonable to do so to relieve hardship, to disregard your spouse’s income.
b) You have suffered from sudden physical or mental disability which permanently and severely restricts your capacity to earn an income; and it appears to the Director in his absolute discretion to be reasonable to do so to relieve hardship:
- in determining your disposable capital, exclude your savings of up to $30,000; and
- in determining your disposable income, deduct a further amount equal to
- S$1,000, if you have also suffered a sudden loss of income and require legal aid to defend or take legal proceedings as a matter of urgency; or
- S$2,000, in any other case.
c) You have suffered a sudden loss of income and require legal aid to defend or take legal proceedings as a matter of urgency; and it appears to the Director in his absolute discretion to be reasonable to do so to relieve hardship:
- regard your disposable income limit to be not more than S$5,000 during the past six months; and
- regard your disposable income to mean your income together with your spouse’s income (if any), during the past 6 months, after deducting:
- S$3,000 for yourself;
- S$3,000 for the working spouse;
- up to S$3,000 for each dependant;
- an amount not exceeding S$10,000 for rent (if any)
- your contribution to the Central Provident Fund; and
- your spouse's contribution to the Central Provident Fund.