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SSS starts online processing of unemployment benefits

The Social Security System (SSS) on Thursday said it is now ready to accept online applications for unemployment benefits from members hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an emailed statement, the SSS said members qualified to avail of the benefit must have paid at least 36 months of contributions, and the last 12 months should have been paid within 18 months before the involuntary separation.

They must also be not more than 60 years of age at the time of involuntary separation. Underground and surface mineworkers should be not more than 50 years old, while racehorse jockeys should not be more than 55 years old.

Among the accepted reasons for involuntary separation are retrenchment or downsizing, the closure or cessation of business operations, and other reasons brought about by COVID-19.

"Job loss in times of global health crisis is one of the worst-case scenarios that we wish would never happen," said SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio.

"However, as a pension fund, we have to anticipate these kinds of contingencies by allocating funds and providing our members with safer, faster, and more convenient means of filing benefit claims and receiving their cash benefits," she added.

To avail of the benefits, SSS said members should have their own My.SSS account through registration at the official SSS website, where contact details should be entered.

Information such as the active savings account through the bank enrollment module (BEM), employment category, date of involunatry separation, the reason for involuntary separation, and the employer's name where the member was separated will also be required.

Applications may be submitted through the "Apply for unemployment benefit claim" under the E-Services tab in My.SSS.

"We would like to remind our members to double-check the encoded details before submitting their application to avoid any inconvenience brought by any erroneous entry such as bank account number and contact details. Also, secure your email and text notifications for future reference," said Ignacio.

Earlier this month, the SSS said members who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will receive up to P20,000 cash benefits, depending on their monthly salary credit.

The Department of Finance (DOF) also earlier assured that the SSS is "fully prepared" to provide assistance to jobless Filipinos.

The unemployment benefit can be availed once every three years, starting from the date of involuntary separation from work.

The benefit will be released through SSS channels such as the Unified Multi-purpose Identification (UMID) Card enrolled as ATM card, bank accounts in PESONet participating banks; electronic wallets such as Paymaya; and remittance transfer companies/cash payout outlets such as DBP Cash Padala thru MLhuiller.

This comes even as the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an unemployment rate of 17.7% in April, reflecting an increase of 5 million jobless Filipinos to 7.3 million.

Bello countered the PSA's numbers, claiming there were only 69,000 unemployed Filipinos during the period.

Bello's claims were refuted by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, which noted that its members alone reported a total of 3.5 million unemployed Filipinos. —KBK, GMA News