SSS offers loans to earthquake-hit province

By Chino S. Leyco

State-run Social Security System (SSS) said yesterday that its members and pensioners in Porac, Pampanga may avail of the calamity assistance package (CAP) for their short-term and immediate financial needs after an earthquake hit their municipality last month.

In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive, said that qualified members may tap the pension fund’s assistance package that includes calamity loan assistance program (CLAP), three-month advance pension, as well as direct house repair and improvement loan.

Ignacio said SSS started accepting application beginning yesterday.

“The Social Security Commission, through Resolution No. 284-s.2019, approved the granting of assistance program to our members and pensioners affected by the earthquake in Porac, Pampanga which was declared under state of calamity by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC),” Ignacio said.

“We are hoping that this will help SSS members and pensioners recover the damages caused by the earthquake,” she added.

To qualify, the applicant’s home address or property must be in Porac, Pampanga, the only area declared by NDRRMC as under state of calamity.

The CLAP offers member-borrowers a loan amount of as much as his/her monthly salary credit, payable in two years in equal monthly installments, with a low annual interest rate of 10 percent and a one percent monthly penalty for late payments. SSS waived the service fee for CLAP.

“The Commission also decided not to charge a service fee for this loan program to help our members. Calamity loan checks may be picked up within 10 working days from the SSS servicing branch where the member filed his/her application,” Ignacio said.

To qualify for the CLAP, the member must have at least 36 monthly contributions, six of which must have been paid within the 12-month period preceding the date of application.

Ignacio added that SSS implements a file-anywhere policy, so members need not go to Pampanga to file for the CLAP as long as they have complied with the application requirements including the Barangay Certification.

“Qualified Overseas Filipino Worker and Seafarer members who cannot file their loan applications personally may assign a representative, provided that they present an authorization letter,” Ignacio added.

CLAP is a separate loan facility from the regular salary loan, so members can avail themselves of this loan program even if they have an outstanding salary loan.

However, members who still have outstanding loans under the SSS’ Loan Restructuring Program, previous CLAPs, and those who are receiving total permanent disability or retirement pensions are not qualified to avail of said loan program.

Social Security and Employees’ Compensation pensioners, on the other hand, may apply to receive their advance three-month pension.

In case that the pensioner’s present address differs from his/her address in the SSS’ database, he/she is required to submit a barangay certification to prove that he/she resides in the calamity-declared area.

A Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan is also available for members with damaged houses due to said calamity. The loan program has a six-month moratorium of amortization and interest payments. It has an interest rate of eight or nine percent per annum, depending on the loan amount.

“Members can borrow a maximum amount of P1 million under the Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan. There is also no service fee for this program,” Ignacio said.

To qualify, the applicant must not be more than 60 years old and with at least 24 monthly contributions, three of which must have been paid within the 12-month period prior to the month of filing the loan. Further, the applicant and his/her spouse must be updated in paying their other existing loans with the SSS.

Members who have been previously granted a house repair loan or a final benefit by the SSS are no longer qualified to avail of said program.

The application period for CLAP and the three-month advance pension is until August 16, 2019 while the Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan will be until May 15, 2020.

As of writing, only Porac, Pampanga has been declared by the NDRRMC to be under a state of calamity but SSS is willing to extend its assistance package to other areas affected by the April 2019 earthquakes if these areas will also be declared by NDRRMC.