THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
Gone are the days when company management were able to dodge mandatory Social Security System (SSS) contributions without running afoul with the law. Gone are the days when employers would default on their contributions and SSS remittances without getting into trouble with labor and SSS. Employers and employees are well aware that non-payment and non-remittance of SSS monthly contributions could mean trouble on all sides. The lowly Juans and Juanas who are employed and the high and mighty in management know that social security benefits will come in handy when the time comes. Monthly contributions must be remitted religiously and on time. Being an SSS member has now become the norm among the working class in the private sector. This is true in both the formal and informal labor sector. Voluntary contributions among the self-employed, consultants, small business owners are on the rise, a development which the government encourages with glee.
In this time of the pandemic and with millions who might be dislodged from their full time or part time job, being a member of good standing with the state-run SSS offers some glimmer of hope. The same is true for the 2.7 million SSS pensioners who receive their monthly pensions. Monthly pensions range from a low of Ph4,000 to a high of Ph16,000. The maximum monthly salary credit (MSC) that a pensioner can receive is P16,000. Contributions are computed at 12 percent of the monthly salary, 2/3 comes from the employer, 1/3 from the employee. Voluntary contributions from the self-employed and informal labor sector is computed at 11 percent of the MSC not higher than PHP16,000. The MSA is based on the monthly salary at the time the member is registered.
Early in April this year, SSS President and CEO Aurora Ignacio announced that SSS released Ph11.9 billion benefiting over 2.7 million retirees. “We allowed the early release of their monthly pension to provide them with some financial assistance. It will help our pensioner cope with the pandemic,’’ Ignacio declared.
This pronouncement however is marred by the recent news that as of October, the additional Ph1000 which is the second tranche of the PHP 2000 pension is delayed by ten months. According to a Froy Solanoy, a senior SSS pensioner, the second tranche should have been remitted to them as early as January 2020. It’s now October and we haven’t received it yet, Solanoy said.
A letter of appeal was sent by a group of concerned pensioners addressed to the SSS chief begging for the immediate release of the PHP1000 pension hike. The letter stated that the PHP1000 additional pension hike is crucial to those who are receiving only PHP 4000 monthly. The retirees said the second installment was supposed to be remitted last year but was deferred for this year because the state-run agency was still raising funds. They lamented it’s been ten months and still waiting.
Solanoy , the spokesperson of the group who signed themselves the SSS Pensionados Para sa 1K, said their group is composed of some 68 thousand pensioners who are active through the social media Facebook who are reaching out so that their voices can be heard by the government and the public.
Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez has endorsed the letter of appeal to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. from his senior constituents calling for the PHP1,000 pension hike to be immediately released. He said senior citizens receiving monthly pensions from SSS are excluded from receiving benefits under the social amelioration program.
The lawmaker said seniors are more vulnerable to infection and most of them have maintenance medicines that they buy with their small monthly pensions.
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