By Chino S. Leyco
State-run Social Security System (SSS) has begun servicing the unemployment insurance for members who were suddenly displaced from their jobs two months after the pension fund started accepting applications for the program.
In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive, said they have disbursed ₱84.27 million in unemployment benefits to 6,907 actively-paying members who were involuntarily separated from the workforce as of October 21.
“We are now seeing the fruits of labor of our lawmakers, stakeholders and SSS representatives who have crafted the SS Act of 2018. We are able to provide cash benefits to the qualified members who needed the SSS the most when they unexpectedly lost their jobs,” Ignacio said.
The Makati Gil-Puyat branch approved the most number of unemployment benefit applications at 943, equivalent to ₱13.76-million disbursements, followed by Bacoor branch with 876 applications received and ₱8.98 million releases.
The SSS Biñan branch approved 833 applications during the period and ₱9.74- million benefits paid, while Pasig-Pioneer and Cebu branches, both with 437 approved applications and disbursements amounting to ₱6.10 million and ₱5.16 million, respectively.
The SSS unemployment benefit is one of the salient features of Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 that aims to provide a cash benefit equivalent to half of their average monthly salary credit (AMSC) for a maximum of two months.
“SSS members who were involuntarily separated from work starting March 5, 2019 onwards are covered by unemployment benefit,” Ignacio added.
To qualify for unemployment benefit, members must not be more than 60 years old at the time of involuntary separation, except for underground and surface mineworkers, and racehorse jockey members whose age should not be more than 50 and 55 years old, respectively.
Member-applicant must have paid at least 36 monthly contributions, 12 months of which should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation.
Ignacio reminded unemployment benefit applicants that involuntary separation includes installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment, closure or cessation of operation, and disease or illness of the employee whose continued employment is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his or his co-employees’ health.
Applicants are required to submit a DOLE-issued certification establishing the nature and date of involuntary separation as well as a Notice of Termination from the employer or an Affidavit of Termination of Employment.
Likewise, applicants should present an original and photocopy of one primary ID card or document or in the absence of which, any two ID cards or documents, both with signature and at least one with photo at any SSS local branch or foreign office.
Applicants are also told that the unemployment benefit application could be submitted within one year from the date of the involuntary separation and that they can only claim the said benefit once every three years starting from the date of separation from work.
Further, if two or more compensable contingencies occurred within the same period, SSS will only pay the highest benefit.