By Chino S. Leyco
State-run Social Security System (SSS) reported that the pension fund’s sickness benefit releases to employed, self-employed, voluntary and overseas Filipino worker (OFW) members climbed in the first four months of the year.
In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive said that their total sickness benefit releases in January to April 2019 reached P984.42 million, up 12 percent compared with P875.42 million in the same period last year.
Ignacio said the number of beneficiaries of the sickness benefit also rose by 7.2 percent to 155,856 members from 145,370 beneficiaries a year before.
“The pension fund values its members’ welfare, including their health and well-being, as acquiring sickness or injury is sometimes inevitable due to the demands of their job. In times of contingency, some of our members are unable to work, nor provide for their medical expenses,” Ignacio said.
SSS disbursed P913.88 million in sickness benefits under the social security program from January to April 2019. This is a 9.5 percent increase from the P834.22 million disbursed during the same period in 2018.
Sickness benefits for work-related sickness or injuries under the Employee’s Compensation Program also increased by 71.3 percent to P70.54 million from the P41.19 million recorded during the same period in 2018.
A qualified member under the sickness benefit program receives a daily cash allowance for the number of days he is unable to work due to sickness or injury.
To qualify for sickness benefit, a member must have been unable to work due to an illness for at least four days whether confined at home or in a hospital.
The member must have at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period before the semester of illness.
The member must have notified his/her employer or the SSS for voluntary and self-employed members, within five days after the start of sickness or injury. An employed member must have used all his/her company’s sick leave credits for the current year to avail of the SSS sickness claim.
A member can receive a maximum of 120 days in sickness benefit in one calendar year.
After this period and the member is still not capable of working, he must report to SSS for a medical evaluation to determine if he is qualified for disability benefit.
Employers must advance the sickness benefits of their employees. On the other hand, separated, voluntary, and self-employed members shall be paid directly by SSS.
Members can also expect higher benefits with the increase of contribution rate to 12 percent and the adjusted monthly salary credits (MSC) to a minimum of P2,000 and maximum of P20,000 as provided under Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018.
MSC is one of the factors being considered in the computation of SSS benefits.