By Chino S. Leyco
State-run Social Security System (SSS) has cautioned pensioners from dealing with fixers who are also asking for commission from their loan application.
Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive, said they received reports from their branches that pensioners were asked to pay as much as P2,500 as commission for the processing of their loan application with the pension fund.
“This has to stop,” Ignacio declared, nothing SSS does not charge processing fees for its pension loan application.
“Those who want to avail of the pension loan must personally apply in our branch offices nationwide. Avoid transacting with fixers who promise to hasten your loan application but would take a pay cut from your loan proceeds,” Ignacio said.
She also warned pensioners against individuals on social media who are claiming to be SSS employees and ask for their personal information.
“In view of the stringent rules of the Data Privacy Law, we would like to stress that SSS employees or officials are precluded from extracting information of pensioners through any social media platform like Facebook and Twitter,” Ignacio pointed out.
Earlier, SSS said that loan releases jumped by more than half in March this year on the back of procedural enhancements implemented by the pension fund.
Ignacio said SSS pension loan program (PLP) has disbursed P150.3 million in March this year, up by 54 percent compared with P97.8 million in the previous month.
“We are glad that we were able to reach more pensioners thru the Pension Loan Program with the enhanced guidelines. The program will truly serve its purpose of providing for the short-term financial needs of our retiree pensioners,” Ignacio said.
The report on the spike on the pension loan availment was discussed in the Social Security Commission meeting last week.
In early March, SSS relaxed its guidelines for more than 1.2 million retiree pensioners so that those who are receiving their monthly pension even for just a month, is already qualified to avail of the SSS pension loan.
In the old rule, a retiree-pensioner must be receiving his monthly pension for at least six months to qualify for the pension loan.
Further, with the new guidelines for PLP application, other government-issued identification cards aside from the Social Security card (SS card) or Unified Multi-Purpose Identification (UMID) card may now be used as a form of identification.
In the absence of a primary ID card/document, the applicant shall present and submit any two valid ID cards bearing a signature and a photo of the applicant.
At end-March, SSS pension loan releases reached P788.6 million to more than 32,872 retiree pensioners.
Among the 166 branches receiving PLP applications, Bacolod branch approved the most number of PLP applications at 2,240 and released more than P47.16 million.
Diliman branch, on the other, released the highest amount of pension loans amounting to P48.08 million to more than 1,861 pensioners for the said period.
The top three branches with the most number of approved PLP applications were Victorias branch in Bacolod; Cebu branch; and Bago branch.
PLP was launched in September last year in celebration of the 61st anniversary of the pension fund and was intended to be offered to retiree pensioners for a period of one year only.
But now, PLP has become a permanent loan facility of SSS under Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2019 which took effect last March 2019.
With only 10 percent interest per annum, PLP offers lower interest rate compared with high-interest loan offerings of some financial institutions.