OUR Social Security System (SSS) was created in 1972 under Republic Act 1161, known as the Social Security Law, to provide maternity, sickness, disability, retirement, death and make available loans to its members. There is no doubt on the many benefits the SSS is providing our people who are working in private companies or self-employed.
However, there is a lot of disparity between the benefits, and even services that the SSS provides its members, and those provided by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for those who are working in the government. That is why there are now people calling for the standardization of pension rules.
Although the House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill providing for a P2,000 across-the-board increase in pensions, the highest monthly SSS pension amounts to only about P13,000. Compare this to the GSIS where the highest is 90 percent of the basic pay—the higher your basic pay, the higher your pension, depending also on the length of stay in one’s work. So if you are a head of a government agency, for instance, and you are receiving P100,000, and if you meet the length of service requirements, you will get P90,000 per month.
There are also complaints on the servicing. A good example is somebody I know whose husband died, and in order for SSS to transfer the pension to the wife as beneficiary and to avail himself of the funeral benefits, the latter has to go to SSS and sign documents even if the wife can no longer walk and is having difficulty getting out of bed. What is sad, after much difficulty in bringing the wife to the SSS office for the funeral benefits, she needed to go back another time to sign for the pension. I am quite perplexed why can’t the SSS have all the documents ready for both the pension and the funeral benefits so that the poor wife has to go there only once? Or assign a person instead to go to the beneficiary’s place to confirm the validity and existence of the person rather than the handicapped and sick beneficiaries go to the SSS office?
I heard this is being done at the GSIS where they send their people to visit the weak and old handicapped beneficiaries, just like they did to the mother of a public-school janitor, to confirm and witness the signing of the beneficiaries who had difficulty going to the GSIS office.
Another area of poor servicing at the SSS are its record-keeping. A particular example would be in the availment of loans. There was an offer before to buy Petron stocks through an SSS loan, for instance. Upon full payment, the member asked for the stock certificates only to be told of arrears on the member’s payments. Of course, the person was shocked and asked for the schedule of payments and confirmed there were payments made that were not reflected in the schedule. Unless these supposed were paid, they will continue to earn interest and surcharges and the burden of proof was on the hapless member. It was a good thing her records were intact.
This should be a lesson for all of us working in the private sector to make sure our records are intact, for we cannot rely on the agency to provide us with the complete record, or else we will pay again for those that were not reflected in their records. If your company maintains the records for you, you should maintain your own personal file just to be safe. There is an online service keeping track of a member’s contributions nowadays. This is important particularly for those who keep changing jobs.
I think the call now is not only for the standardization of pension rules but for the services, as well. The people in the private sector are also contributors to the economic progress of the country just like those in the public sector. They deserve as much pension and efficient service from an agency that is supposed to deliver the support they need at the time they need it most.
Wilma C. Inventor-Miranda is the chairman of the Media Affairs Committee of Finex, treasurer of KPS Outsourcing Inc. and a managing partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.