?State-run Social Security System (SSS) disbursed more than P62.19 billion worth of pensions in the first five months of this year, reflecting a P4.84 billion-increase from the same period last year.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said the growth in disbursements was due to the increase in the number of pensioners which grew from 2.4 million in May 2018 to 2.5 million in May 2019.
"We are happy to see our pensioners enjoying their monthly pensions after many years of saving with SSS. They are finally reaping the benefits of the years of their hard work when they were still part of the labor force," Ignacio said.
The SSS provides three types of pensions, namely: retirement, death, and disability.
As of May 2019, the pension fund has more than 1.5 million retiree-pensioners, over 940,000 survivorship-pensioners, and 85,000 disability pensioners.
Retiree-pensioners are members who have reached the age of 60 with at least 120 monthly contributions prior to the semester of their retirement while survivorship-pensioners are primary beneficiaries of deceased members who have paid at least 36 monthly contributions prior to the semester of the member's death.
Disability pensioners, on the other hand, are members who are unable work as a result of their disability which could either be temporary or permanent and with at least 36 monthly contributions prior to the semester of disability.
SSS' pension disbursements account for 78.6 percent of the total benefit disbursements from January to May this year.
"We cannot overemphasize the importance of consistently paying monthly contributions to SSS so that in times of emergency situations which result in loss of income, the SSS can provide them with assistance in the form of pensions, cash allowances or loans. If they also wish to have higher pensions, they must also save more with SSS," Ignacio said.
Computation of SSS pension is based on the monthly salary credit or the salary level of the member?s total earnings for the month which is up to a maximum of P20,000 per month and the credited years of service or the number years that a member paid his/her SSS contributions. The higher the monthly salary credit and the longer the years a member paid his/her contributions, the higher his/her monthly pension will be.
To date, the highest amount of pension being paid by SSS for a retiree-pensioner is P18,945 while the minimum amount of pension is P2,000. These include the P1,000 additional benefit.
The SSS continues to develop its benefit and loan programs to fit the needs of its members.
Last September, due to the request of retiree-pensioners, the SSS opened its Pension Loan Program (PLP). The program is designed to provide financial assistance to retiree-pensioners through a low-interest rate loan option.
As of 9 July 2019, the pension fund has disbursed, through the PLP, more than P1.16 billion to 48,505 pensioner-borrowers.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of SSS pensioners relying now on our pension loan program for their short-term and emergency needs instead of going to loan sharks," Ignacio said.
Under the PLP, qualified members can apply for a loan of up to six times their respective basic monthly pension plus the P1,000 additional benefit but should not exceed the maximum loan limit of P32,000.
To qualify, the borrower must be a retiree-pensioner and not more than 80 years old at the end of the month of the loan payment term. The borrower must have no deductions from his/her regular monthly pension, no existing advance pension under the SSS Calamity Package, and should have received his/her monthly pension for at least one month and posted in the pension fund?s system.
The pension loan has an interest rate of 10 percent per annum, computed on a diminishing principal balance, which will become part of the monthly amortization. Loan proceeds will be credited to the cash card of the pensioner-borrower within five working days from date of approval.
Payment for the said loan will start two months after the loan?s approval. The loan can be paid within three, six, or 12 months depending on the loan amount.