SSS benefit payments rise 7% in 2010

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Social Security System (SSS) benefit payments increased by 7 percent to P77.17 billion last year, including P38.23 billion paid out to retirement claims of more than 800,000 members.

In a statement, Emilio de Quiros, Jr., SSS president and chief executive said 36 percent of total payments amounting to P27.65 billion went to death benefits for families of about 740,000 members.

"SSS entitles workers to many types of benefits," he said. "Monthly contributions help members save for retirement and give them a safety net during contingencies that disrupt their capacity to earn."

The pension fund provides retirement, sickness, maternity, disability, death and funeral benefits. Membership is mandatory for private sector employees and self-employed workers.

Members with work-related contingencies get additional benefits under the Employees' Compensation (EC) program, which SSS administers for private sector workers. About P824 million in death benefits made up 76 percent of the P1.09 billion EC disbursements last year.

De Quiros said SSS has proposed a 0.6 percent increase in contribution rate to 11 percent and P5,000 increase in maximum monthly salary credit to P20,000 to allow higher benefits, a 10 percent across-the-board pension increase and P500 one-time grant to pensioners.

"The average monthly pension is about P3,500 and we want pensions to be nearer the amount of their last salary. Members are being deprived of proper benefits because of limitations in the SSS structure, which we are now trying to adjust gradually," he said.

The adjustments would enable SSS benefits to catch up with workers in the public sector, whose contribution rate of 21 percent under the Government Service Insurance System covers their entire monthly salary, De Quiros said.

"The small steps we are taking are also directed towards a perpetual SSS fund life. The proposed reforms would add seven years to the SSS fund life, extending it from 2039 to 2046," he said. (CSL)

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