THE state-run Social Security System (SSS) said over the weekend that more than P4.23 billion worth of benefits were disbursed to some 61,406 land-based overseas Filipino worker (OFW)-members in 2018.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora Ignacio said the 2018 benefit disbursement to land-based OFWs was equivalent to 66 percent of the P6.37 billion contribution collection from land-based OFWs in the same year.
"We are glad that we were able to translate the contributions of our dear OFW-members into benefits that were disbursed to them during times of contingencies. SSS stands by its mandate to provide adequate, universal social security protection for all workers in the private sector in times of retirement, disability, death, funeral, sickness or maternity," Ignacio said.
Of the total disbursements, P2.87 billion was disbursed for regular pensions such as retirement, death, and disability pensions while short-term benefits such as sickness and maternity, amounted to P271 million, and initial and lump-sum benefits at P1.09 billion.
Meanwhile, the state-run pension fund reiterated that Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which provides for mandatory coverage of OFWs, will ensure viable social security for OFWs and their families.
SSS initiated an executive meeting with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on June 26, wherein it was agreed that the Joint Committee of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dole, and SSS be convened immediately to implement the mandatory coverage of OFWs under the SS Act of 2018.
In the same meeting, SSS said it will open a payment facility in POEA in addition to the existing tellers at the SSS-POEA branch to collect contributions from OFWs.
The compulsory OFW coverage provision of the IRR guarantees that OFWs who are deployed can enjoy the benefits offered by SSS -- sickness, maternity, disability, retirement, funeral, death-that OFWs can avail in times of need.
"SSS is duty-bound to implement the law. We would like to urge OFW-members to look at the compulsory coverage as an added savings and protection for their future and not as an additional expense," Ignacio added.
Under the mandatory coverage of OFWs, all land-based and sea-based Filipinos working abroad will have to pay at least a minimum monthly contribution of P960 which is equivalent to 12 percent of the P8,000 monthly salary credit (MSC). Previously, under the old law, the minimum monthly contribution for OFWs was P550 which is equivalent to P5,000 MSC.
As a result of the increase in minimum MSC, sickness benefits for OFW-members will also increase. From the previous P150 sickness daily allowance per day, it will increase by 60 percent to P240 per day.
On the other hand, maternity benefits for OFWs who are paying at minimum MSC will also increase from P10,000 to P28,000 together with the implementation of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law.
"We would like our members to know that membership in SSS is for life. We also want them to see their SSS contributions as long-term savings and not as an added expense," Ignacio said. (PR)