2m losing SSS pension
New policy anchored on 1968 resolution
Almost two million Social Security System members, who lacked 120 monthly contributions when they reached age 65 on April 1 this year, will lose their pension if they fail to apply and get approval for voluntary membership payment, which is no longer allowed under a policy, a senior official said.
SSS retirement, death and funeral officer Zenaida Losarito said closing the door on 65-year-old members to pay contributions was based on a 1968 resolution, which the Social Security Commission, the policy-making body of the SSS, wanted implemented.
“We were asked by the Social Security Commission to revisit the commission resolution number 3586,” Losarito said.
The 2003 actuarial valuation showed about 13 million members were “non-contributing,” which means they are out of jobs or in-between jobs. Actuarians estimate about 10.97 percent will need to contribute beyond age 65 to qualify for pension.
Under the new policy, an estimated two million members will be disqualified to receive a lifetime pension, including a percentage of 610,873 new entrants in 2002, who were 55 years-old and could no longer meet the required number of contributions when they reached age 65.
Losarito said receiving voluntary contributions from 65-years-old members would not be “financially healthy” for SSS, and based on the 1968 resolution they should only get a refund of their contribution payments.
“The SSS will incur a net liability if the practice (voluntary payments from 65-year-old members) continues,” Losarito said.
Losarito offered two options for members who reached the age of 65 on April 1and wish to continue paying until they meet the required number of contributions to qualify for pension.
She said those whose birth dates were prior to last April’s announcements had until July 31 to file an application to continue paying, and those whose birthdates were after the announcement would be given 30 days to file their applications.
“They will have to pay until the gap is filled, but should they fail or miss one contribution month, the privilege to complete the 120 month requirement will be revoked,” Losarito said.
“Again, should they fail to pay less than their dues, the chance to complete the requirement will be revoked,” she said.
Losarito did not provide a copy of the 1968 resolution, and the SSS Website could only go as far back as the 2006 resolutions.
SSS officials, who agreed to speak on condition that they would not be identified, said citing a 45-year-old resolution was highly suspicious because it might have been amended or even revoked by succeeding resolutions.
“There are hundreds or even thousands of resolutions in the past 42 years. Nobody here spends time looking at all those voluminous resolutions,” one official said.
The 1968 resolution was brought up to shield from blame the SSS management under President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros and the Social Security Commission under Chairman Juan Santos, the officials said.
De Quiros signed the circular that cut off from the pension program the 65-year-old members who lacked 120 monthly contributions effective on April 1 this year. The circular was based on a resolution approved by the Social Security Commission on December 5, 2012.
At the House of Representatives, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan said she would summon De Quiros to appear in the Question Hour to explain the new SSS policy, which she described as “violative of the mandate of SSS and the rights of the members.”
House Minority Leader and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano expressed anger at the SSS for the shabby treatment of its senior members and said: “It is clear that SSS must pay pensions.”
Citizens Battle Against Corruption Rep. Sherwin Tugna said De Quiros should explain because “every public official owes it to the public to explain the status of the funds of his office ... to quell public queries and doubts.”
“Iyan ay panibagong pagpapahirap sa mga mangagawa, na nagsunog ng kilay, nagsikap sa paghahanap-buhay subalit pagdating ng kanilang retirement age ay ni singko walang makukuha mula sa SSS,” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, one of the largest trade unions in the country, called on the administration to stop the SSS from implementing its new policy.
TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said many workers could not hold on to their jobs because many companies had closed down, and it was not their fault that their contributions stopped.
“Maraming SSS members ang nangangailangan ng kanilang serbisyo. Dapat bigyan sila ng consideration, Malamang nawalan sila ng trabaho kaya natigil ang kanilang remittance,” Tanjusay said. With Maricel Cruz
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