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SSS members to get unemployment benefits in new law


Eligible Social Security System (SSS) members will be entitled to unemployment benefits under Republic Act 11199, or the Social Security Act of 2018.

According to a report by Lei Alviz on 24 Oras, RA 11199's implementing rules and regulations (IRR) are currently being worked out so that it can be enforced this year, after it was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

The new law adds unemployment benefits to the six benefits already offered to SSS members: those for maternity leave, sickness, funeral, death, permanent disability, and retirement.

Those who are eligible for unemployment benefits can receive an amount equal to 50 percent of his or her monthly salary for a maximum of two months. 

According to Voltaire Agas, the pension fund's chief legal counsel and SVP of its legal and enforcement group, a worker can receive unemployment benefits if he is "...involuntarily separated from work, by reason of closure of company, redundancy, retrenchment...or simply [if] he is suffering from inhumane treatment."

Under section 14-B of the law, the SSS member must be not being more than 60 years old and must have paid at least 36 months' worth of contributions to be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Of these 36 months of contributions, 12 months should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the involuntary unemployment or separation.

Those who qualify for the unemployment benefits "shall be paid benefits in the form of monthly cash payments equivalent to fifty percent (50%) of the average monthly salary credit for a maximum of two (2) months."

The law also states that a member may only claim unemployment benefits once every three years.

Higher contributions

With added benefits comes higher contributions. Effective April, the contribution rate of each member will be hiked from 11 percent to 12 percent, with the monthly salary credit going from a minimum of P2,000 to a maximum of P20,000.

SSS officials said that they cannot increase benefits without corresponding increases in contributions.

"We can extend the fund life by maybe a few months if we are more efficient in our collections—and we're trying to do that—or if we go after delinquent employers, we're doing that," said SSS actuarial and risk management group senior vice president Edgar Cruz.

"But that alone will not solve the fund life problem, which is really a contributions-versus-benefits equation."

According to the report, expanded maternity benefits are also being worked out, with officials saying that taking these into account will shorten the SSS' fund life to until 2044 instead of 2045 as earlier estimated.

Because of this, an additional 0.05-percent hike in contributions might be necessary.

OFWs

Under the new SSS charter, membership will also now be mandatory for land-based OFWs, who are considered self-employed while the government is working on getting employers to pay their share in the workers' contributions through bilateral labor agreements with other countries.

According to the report, sea-based OFWs already have SSS coverage because the manning agencies serve as their employers. — BM, GMA News

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