Delayed contribution rate hike endangers SSS—chief

Published January 5, 2021, 2:16 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

State-run Social Security System (SSS) warned that any delay in implementing the scheduled increase in contribution rate as well as minimum and maximum monthly salary credits (MSCs) could endanger the pension fund.

In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive, said delayed implementation of the scheduled “reforms” would take a toll on the institution’s fund life as well as its ability to grant benefits and loan privileges.

Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive
Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive

She explained that the increase in SSS contribution rate and MSCs aims to ensure the continuous delivery of social security protection to its members and their beneficiaries.

SSS has been listening to the clamor of various labor groups and members to defer the said mandated increases, Ignacio said, however, this move is designed to protect the company’s fund life.

“We understand the plight of our covered employers and members, but, at the same time, it is our duty to secure the long-term viability of the SSS fund entrusted to us for the continuous delivery of SSS benefits to our current and future members, as well as their beneficiaries,” Ignacio said.

“Moreover, these scheduled reforms are pursuant to Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018. Thus, we are bound by law to implement it,” she added.

Effective January this year, the SSS contribution rate was increased to 13 percent from the previous 12 percent.

On the other hand, the minimum monthly salary credit (MSC) has been raised to P3,000 from P2,000, while the maximum MSC is set at P25,000 from P20,000.

Kasambahay and overseas Filipino worker (OFW) members’ minimum MSC, however, remained at P1,000 and P8,000, respectively.

For employed members, land-based OFW members in countries with Bilateral Labor Agreements (BLAs) with the Philippines, and sea-based OFW members, the additional one percent will be divided between them and their employers, bringing the contribution rate breakdown to 8.5 percent for employers and 4.5 percent for them.

To illustrate, a member paying under the P10,000 MSC will now pay a monthly contribution of P1,300, which is P100 higher than the P1,200 in 2020.

Suppose the member is employed, a land-based OFW in a country with a BLA with the Philippines or a sea-based OFW. 

In that case, the P100 additional contribution will be divided as P50 from their employers for a total employer share of P850 and P50 from them for a total member share of P450.

While the MSC to be considered for the computation of benefits under the regular social security program is capped at P20,000, contributions pertaining to the MSC in excess of P20,000 will go to the Workers’ Investment and Savings Program (WISP), a provident fund that will yield additional pension income for members contributing under it.

For example, a member will be paying under the P25,000 MSC. Based on the 13 percent contribution rate, his/her monthly contribution will be P3,250, of which P2,600 will go to the regular social security fund, while the remaining P650 will go to the WISP.

The SSS emphasized that the said reforms will allow members to save more for their retirement.

The SSS remains the cheapest pension and most accessible pension scheme in the country that offers seven kinds of benefit programs and various loan privileges.

From January to October 2020, the SSS disbursed a total of P159.47 billion in social security and employees’ compensation benefits to 3.56 million members and beneficiaries.

SSS member loan releases from January to November 2020 totaled P58.03 billion for 3.20 million members, while pension loan releases for the said period reached P3.17 billion combined for 69,813 retiree-pensioners.

On the other hand, SSS contribution collections from January to October 2020 totaled only P169.73 billion, or a decrease of 5.4 percent from the P179.34 billion collected in the same period last year. However, SSS’ investments were well-managed and have allowed the pension fund to respond to members’ needs despite the drop in collections during the pandemic.