For this week, allow me to continue with the milestones of Social Security System (SSS) as presented by Jhoanna Lyn Garcia (senior communications analyst of the SSS Corporate Communications Department [CCD]) in her essay, titled “Ang SSS Noon Hanggang Ngayon: Kabalikat ng Miyembro Sa Anumang Hamon Ng Panahon” (as translated), the First Place Winner in the Essay Writing Contest of the SSS 60th Anniversary Celebration.
1998-2007. The increase in the funds of SSS continued, which resulted in the successive increase in benefits of members and pensioners, and the implementation of the Condonation Program, which gave a renewed hope, especially for the members with unpaid loans.
The Flexi-Fund program for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was also implemented.
In this decade, there were successive increases in contributions and monthly salary-credit ceiling, which extended the fund life of SSS.
In 2007 SSS celebrated its 50th anniversary, which was attended by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This period was considered by Mrs. Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo, former president and CEO of SSS, as one of a kind since the employees of SSS gave service beyond compare and worked hand in hand with the members in looking after the future of the institution.
2008-2017. In the past 10 years, there were times when the SSS received harsh criticisms and condemnation from several groups, despite the efforts of SSS to provide proper benefits and services to its members. One of the most difficult problems encountered by SSS is the implementation of the P2,000 additional pension sought by some lawmakers and pensioners that will critically affect the fund life of SSS. It was not easy to achieve this dream, but with the cooperation between the SSS management, the Social Security Commission, employees and its members, there had been an agreement and resolution on said problem without compromising the hard-earned contributions of the members.
Despite the challenges, SSS remains strong and continues to give meaningful service in keeping with the times. Most of these transactions may be done online through the SSS web site. It is also easier to get information about SSS, and SSS has more branches that members can visit. Even OFWs can already easily access information about SSS.
Aside from this, the members were also given the opportunity to save for the future through the Peso Fund Program—a program wherein a member’s savings earn. The accumulated contribution in the Peso Fund may be used as additional benefit upon retirement or in unexpected circumstances where funds are needed.
During the past 10 years, SSS implemented a condonation program for four years (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016) for the members and employers with unpaid obligations. Under said program, the SSS condoned the penalty for unpaid obligations. Many availed themselves of the program because aside from the restoration of “good standing status” of members, the benefits they will receive will not be reduced upon their retirement.
Along with the increase in contribution from 10.4 percent up to 11 percent, and the monthly salary credit ceiling from P15,000 to P16,000 in 2014, there had also been an increase in the amount of funeral benefits, which now is between a minimum amount of P20,000 to a maximum amount of P40,000, depending on the number of contributions and credited years of service of the member.
In this decade, the campaign against employers who are not remitting the contributions of their employers had been intensified and the job order or contractual employees, who are not covered by Government Service Insurance System, had been included in the SSS coverage. Another matter the SSS focused on in this decade is the coverage extended to the members of the informal sector through the AlkanSSSya program, wherein every informal sector group has an AlkanSSSya unit where they may put their daily contributions. At the end of the month, the amount saved by every member will be counted and if this is sufficient for the monthly contribution of P330, this will be paid to SSS and will be credited under the name of the self-employed member.
Like a parent who takes care of and guides his children, SSS has fulfilled and is continuously fulfilling its duty to provide meaningful protection to its members in various forms and in times of need.
In the past 60 years, SSS has proven that it is one with the millions of Filipino laborers in building their dreams in life—a future that is prepared for a life of uncertainties and full of challenges. In a few instances that SSS was faced with relentless criticisms and accusations on its capability to give efficient and effective public service, it stood up and rose above it all several times over in the field where it belongs.
SSS has proven that there is no big or small member who may not be given the benefits due him or her, that the institution is not selective on whom to give proper protection to. When it comes to social security, all is fair. No one is given undue preference. No one is aggrieved.
In facing another stage in public service, it is certain that more stones will be thrown at the SSS and there are more severe hindrances to overcome for it to be able to realize its sworn duty to take care of, protect and enrich the hard earned contributions of the members, as well as giving timely and appropriate service. But then again, like a parent, all the members can expect that the love and care of the SSS for its members will never fade. It will continue to serve its members for a long time. As long as there is an SSS member, the SSS will guarantee that his future is protected.