SSS: Benefits paid to members, pensioners doubled to P1.1T under Duterte watch | Inquirer Business

SSS: Benefits paid to members, pensioners doubled to P1.1T under Duterte watch

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 09:53 PM July 15, 2022
The amount of benefits disbursed to Social Security System (SSS) members and pensioners under former president Duterte's watch hit P1.1 trillion, the state-run pension fund for private-sector workers said Friday.

The SSS main office in Quezon City. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The amount of benefits disbursed to Social Security System (SSS) members and pensioners under former president Duterte’s watch hit P1.1 trillion, the state-run pension fund for private-sector workers said Friday.

In a statement, SSS president and chief executive Michael Regino said benefit payments from 2016 to 2021 almost doubled from the P549.6-billion worth from 2010 to 2015.

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A Duterte appointee, Regino said the higher benefit payments during the previous administration came on the back of “reforms implemented over the last few years, such as those provided under Republic Act (RA) Nos. 11199 (Social Security Act of 2018) and 11210 (Expanded Maternity Leave Law), and the granting of the additional P1,000 benefit for pensioners starting 2017.”

To recall, Duterte pushed through with his campaign promise to jack up pensioners’ monthly benefits, with the first tranche granted in 2017. The second tranche in Duterte’s plan to increase pension by P2,000 had been delayed by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

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As the additional pension benefit payments shortened the SSS’s fund life by 10 years, the Duterte administration pushed for charter amendment to allow the Social Security Commission (SSC), its highest policy-making body, to hike contribution rates. In the past, only the President had the power to increase the monthly contributions being jointly shelled out by workers and their employers.

As such, the first 1-percentage point (ppt) contribution-rate hike to 12 percent was implemented in 2019, and then followed by the second increase to 13 percent last year despite the harder times wrought by COVID-19. The SSS contribution rate was scheduled to further rise to 14 percent next year, and 15 percent in 2025.

With RA 11199 in place, the SSS’s fund life had been extended, currently projected to last up to 2054.

“The reforms under the Social Security Act of 2018 include the expansion of the SSS’s mandatory coverage to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), increasing the maximum monthly salary credit for the computation of benefits, and granting of the unemployment benefit, among others,” Regino said.

“The Expanded Maternity Leave Law, on the other hand, extended the compensable days from 60 (normal delivery) or 78 (caesarean delivery) days for each of the first four deliveries to 105 days, regardless of frequency, with an additional 15 days for solo mothers for every delivery,” Regino added.

Early this week, Regino said a total of P53.3-billion maternity benefits were released to 1.9 million SSS members from 2016 to 2021, with a jump recorded in 2019 after the implementation of Expanded Maternity Leave Law.

On top of a jump in benefit payments, Regino said SSS loans to members and pensioners rose by over four-fifths during the Duterte administration compared to its predecessor.

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“[The SSS] also saw record-breaking loan releases from 2016 to 2021 with a total of P249.5 billion, an 84-percent growth from the P135.6-billion loans released from 2010 to 2015, due to the increase in the maximum loanable amount, launch of the pension loan program in September 2018, and nationwide offering of the COVID-19 calamity loan assistance program with more flexible payment terms and a lower interest rate in 2020,” according to Regino.

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Despite P843.9-B net loss in 2021, SSS cash flow keeps pensioners and members benefits flowing

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