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P1.9 billion in pension loans OK’d as of end-August — SSS

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The Social Security System (SSS) said Saturday it approved around P1.923 billion in loans under its enhanced Pension Loan Program (PLP) from January to August 2021.

The approved loans benefitted 43,424 retirement pensioners, according to the state-run pension fund.

SSS president and CEO Aurora Ignacio, however, said approved pension loans fell by 17%, compared with P2.311 billion approved in the same period last year. 

“We can attribute the decrease in approved pension loans to the lower number of pensioner-borrowers this year. SSS records showed that there were 43,424 pensioner-borrowers from January to August 2021, which is 15% lower than the 51,121 borrowers in 2020,” she said.

“It is partly due to the restricted mobility for senior citizens brought by the quarantine protocols. Also, some of them are still repaying their pension loans granted to them last year.” 

The pension fund said the SSS Bacolod branch has the highest amount of approved pension loans at P89.36 million for 2,649 pensioners. 

SSS Cebu placed second with P44.87 million approved pension loans for 962 borrowers. 

SSS Davao came in third with P38.26 million approved pension loans for 930 borrowers. 

Completing the top five are SSS Bacoor with P37.38 million for 722 borrowers and SSS Antipolo with P33.45 million for 651 borrowers.

Launched in September 2018, PLP aims to assist SSS retirement pensioners in their financial needs and prevent them from becoming victims of private loan sharks with higher interest rates and taking their ATM cards as collateral.

“We recognize that they need financial assistance to help augment their daily expenses, especially that we are in a pandemic. PLP can help cover expenses for their medicines, vitamins, and other healthcare needs,” Ignacio said.

Under the program, qualified retirement pensioners can avail of a loan equivalent to three, six, nine, or 12 times their basic monthly pension (BMP) plus the P1,000 additional benefit. 

However, the loanable amount should not exceed the maximum loan limit of P200,000. In addition, the net take-home pension of the pensioner-borrower should at least be 47.25%.

A pension loan equivalent to three and six times the pensioner’s BMP plus the P1,000-additional benefit will have a payment term of six and 12 months, respectively. 

Meanwhile, a pension loan equivalent to nine or 12 times the BMP plus the P1,000 additional benefit will have a 24-month payment term.

The pensioner’s first monthly amortization will be due in the second month after SSS grants the loan. 

For example, if the loan is given in August, SSS will deduct the first monthly amortization from the pensioner’s monthly pension in October, according to the SSS.

Pension loans will only incur an interest rate of 10% per year until fully paid computed on a diminishing principal balance. 

It has a lower interest rate than those being offered outside with an interest rate as high as 20%. 

Unlike some private loan institutions, SSS will not ask pensioner-borrowers to surrender their ATM cards with their monthly pension to ensure loan payments.

To qualify for the loan program, retirement pensioners must meet the following requirements:

* must be 85 years old and below at the end of the last month of the loan term;
* no outstanding loan balance and benefit overpayment payable to SSS;
* no existing advance pension under the SSS Calamity Assistance Package;
* must be receiving their regular monthly pension for at least one month with an “active” status.

Those qualified for renewal can now submit their applications online using the My.SSS Member Portal, which they can find on the SSS website.

First-time pensioner-borrowers will be able to file their applications online once the PESONet disbursement facility becomes available for the PLP. — VBL, GMA News

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