State-run pension fund Social Security System (SSS) on Thursday launched four relief and restructuring programs for borrowers and employers with past-due payments on their employees’ compensation contributions as well as salary or housing loans to ease their financial burden amid the prolonged economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a virtual press briefing, SSS president and CEO Aurora Ignacio said that contributions and loans accrue a penalty if not paid as prescribed.
“But given the circumstances we face, we do not want to add burden to those who are already encountering hardships but rather help them get back on their feet. With that in mind, today, we are launching four new pandemic relief and restructuring programs (PRRP),” Ignacio said.
The SSS chief announced that applications for Contribution Condonation Penalty Program, Enhanced Installment Payment Program, Housing Loan Restructuring and Penalty Condonation Program, and Short-Term Member Loan Penalty Condonation Program will be opened for applications this month.
Under the Contribution Penalty Condonation Program also called PRRP 2, Ignacio said that “employers will be able to pay overdue SSS contributions free of penalties in full or installment for a period of four to 24 months depending on the total amount of delinquency.”
The program will be applicable to unremitted or unpaid contributions from March 2020 onwards and will be offered to qualified employers for six months starting November 2021.
The condonation program is open to all delinquent employers or those who have not remitted all contributions due and payable to the SSS as well as those who are not yet registered with the SSS including household employers.
The Enhanced Installment Payment Program also called PRRP 3, meanwhile, allows qualified employers to pay their past due SSS employees contributions and compensation in installments for a period of nine months to 60 months depending on the total amount of delinquency.
Similar to PRRP2, the PRRP3 will begin this month.
To qualify for both the PRRP2 and PRRP3, employers must prove that their businesses were “affected financially by calamity, man-made disaster, economic crisis, etc.”
Ignacio said the he PRRP4 or Housing Loan Restructuring and Penalty Condonation Program lets “qualified SSS housing loan borrowers, successors-in-interest, and legal heirs may pay the outstanding principal, interests, insurance dues and legal expenses of their SSS housing loans in full within 90 calendar days from the receipt of the notice of approval of the application or pay 50% within 90 days from the receipt of notice of approval and pay the remaining 50% in 12 equal monthly installments.”
She said that upon full payment, all unpaid penalties will be condoned.
The PRRP4 will be open for applications for three months starting November 22, 2021 until February 21, 2022.
Lastly, the Short-Term Member Loan Penalty Condonation Program or PRRP5 is allows “all due and demandable arrears composed of the outstanding principal and interest of a member-borrowers’ past due salary, calamity, and/or emergency loans as well loans under the salary loan early renewal program and restructured loans under the Loan Restructuring programs will be consolidated.”
“The consolidated loan may be settled through one-time full payment in 30 calendar days from the member-borrower’s receipt of notice of approval or through paying 50% of the consolidated loan within 30 calendar days from receipt of the notice of approval and paying the remaining 50% in six equal monthly installments,” Ignacio said.
“Unpaid penalties will also be condoned upon full payment,” she said.
The PRRP5 will be available for applications for three months from November 15, 2021 to feb 14, 2022.
“In trying times like these, people need the SSS and social security protection even more. We highly encourage our members and employers to take this opportunity to regain their good standing with us, avoid further accrual of penalties and enable themselves and their employees to qualify for the benefits and loan programs they need during this pandemic,” Ignacio said.
For his part, SSS senior vice president Mario Sibucao said there are “700,000 plus employers [with] P55 billion total delinquency of which 20% are considered penalties to be condoned.”
The SSS chief also said that the pension fund saw a decline in both contribution and loan payments in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, Ignacio said member-housing loan payment collections from January to December 2020 amounted to P244.36 billion, down 8.8% from the P267.91 billion collected in the same period in 2019.
"Prior to 2020, there was a steady increase in our collections,” she said. — RSJ, GMA News