By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
SAN FRANCISCO (JGL) – Did you pay your contributions to the Social Security System in the Philippines but decided to stop paying so you can leave to work overseas? If so, you don’t have to go home to the Philippines to resume paying your voluntary contributions until you paid up your premiums for at least 10 years. When you turn 60, you can get your pension.
The SSS is now accepting your contributions in the United States starting January 16, 2016.
Those Filipinos in Canada had started paying their contributions in the SSS office in Toronto as early last year.
The San Francisco SSS office in California becomes the 21st SSS office set up overseas, growing by more than 60 percent from the previous total of 13 overseas branches since 2010.
These SSS foreign offices are located in Hongkong, Macau, Taipei (Taiwan), Brunei, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in Asia. In Middle East, they are found in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha. In Europe, they are found in Rome, Milan and London.
As of Sept. 2015, there are 286 SSS branches, including overseas, a jump of 63%. Some of these branches in the Philippines also dot popular major malls.
Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr., president and chief executive officer of SSS, said, “SSS does not want to make it hard for overseas Filipinos to pay their contributions by going home to the Philippines just to pay their contributions.
“Because of the preponderance of Filipinos in northern California, the SSS has decided to open an office in San Francisco to serve the burgeoning needs of Filipino employees, who are members of the SSS but had to go overseas to pursue their employment overseas.”
There is no doubt in Mr. De Quiros’ mind when he came to Chicago, Illinois recently (Nov. 28) that the soaring collection of contributions of Filipino employees to the SSS by more than 30 percent from P141-Billion (US$3.2-B) under the Aquino Administration starting in 2010 to P439-B (US$10-B) in 2015 was enough reason for the SSS to set up shop overseas.
“Net revenues for 2013, 2014, and the rest of 2015 was high at 30.67 but for the month of Dec. (2015), it is flat at -9.9%, including investment and other income at -16.9%, because interests came down not only in U.S. but also in Philippines,” according to the soft-spoken brother of well-known columnist Conrado De Quiros of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
For those who have completed paying their 10-year contributions, they can get a monthly pension of P1,200 (US$27) (this will double shortly if President Aquino does not veto the bill passed by Philippine Congress) for life.
If an employee worked for 20 years, he gets P2,400 (US$54) (which will also double very shortly when the new law takes effect).
If the contributor gets sick, he gets Disability and Death benefits of P1,000 monthly, P1,200 monthly, of P2,400 monthly, depending on the length of contributions.
Funeral benefits for those employed less than one year contributing an average of P1,000 a month and those working for 21 years paying an average monthly of P4,000 can get an average benefit of P20,000 (US$454). (In the U.S., the Social Security Administration only gives an SS member $255 funeral benefit.)
In an employee has additional contributions, when he dies his survivors can get a maximum of P40,000 (US$909) in funeral expenses.
If an OFW gets sick for 120 days and has three qualifying contributions, he gets up to P50,000 (US$1,136). This benefit could be received in monthly installment payment of P1,650 for three months and cash allowance of P9,000 or a maximum of monthly payment of P5,280 for three months and a cash allowance of P28,800.
If a female OFW gives birth with at least three qualifying monthly contributions (P1,650 up to P5,280), she gets a maternity benefit of more than P30,000. If she has contributed between three to 12 months before the semester of delivery, if she cannot work, she gets a daily cash allowance of from P5,000 to P6,500 for 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for Caesarian delivery, respectively; and P16,000 up to P20,800, or more than four times in return.
For an OFW member, who becomes partially disabled for two years with 36 qualifying contributions at a minimum contribution of P19,800 and a maximum of P63,360, he gets a pension of P65,000 and a maximum of P179,400 for two years.
If an OFW member is totally disabled with 36 qualifying contributions from a minimum of P19,800 to maximum of P63,360, he gets P162,500 up to P448,500 pension in five years, which is up to eight times in return.
If an OFW dies and leaves primary beneficiaries with 36 qualifying contributions at minimum of P19,800 up to maximum of P63,360, his survivors get a pension of a minimum of P150,900 to a maximum of P438,880, which is eight times in return from his original contributions. His survivors will also get 13th month pension and funeral grant.
From monthly contributions from P550 to P1,760 for 20 years with funeral cost, a member gets P650,000 up to P1,697,040 for a monthly pension of 20 years that starts at 67 years of age at P2,400 and P6,380, respectively, or a ratio contribution of minimum of P1 contribution to P20 benefit and maximum of P1 contribution to P12 benefit.
Some issues of OFW labor migration that favor them to stay with the SSS include OFW’s who have temporary contracts or are immigrant or permanent basis; they are excluded from coverage of social security schemes by their host countries, which only include their nationals. They also have no access to basic safety nets, especially for long-term needs such as retirement (pensions); and they lack protection of social security rights and only get benefit entitlement if they worked for 15-20 years.
The SSS also offers a Flexi-Fund Program for OFW’s, which are invested in guaranteed low bearing but government securities. Among these investments are placed on SSS’ short-term peso placements or 91-T-bills, whichever is higher. These are re-priced quarterly. The investment of the OFW contributions are credited every month’s end and at compounded interest.
The management fees are fixed at 1% of individual member’s equity.
“Always plan for your retirement. Hindi ‘yong basta kung ano lang ang naitabi natin, yon na lang. (You should not be resigned to a wrong fatalistic mentality that whatever you happen to save, that’s it.)” Ms. Judy Frances A. See, Sr. Vice President of SSS, intoned. “At least, with us at the SSS, if you save us, your money grows.”
Aside from Mr. De Quiros and Ms. See, others in the party are Maria Lourdes N. Mendoza, Special Assistant to the to the President/CEO, and Joy A. Villacorta, Department Manager. They were welcomed by Consul General Generoso D.G. Calonge of the Midwest Philippine Consulate in Chicago.
Those interested to get more details about SSS may reach out the SSS Foreign Representative Office, San Francisco SSS Representative: Ms. Marites C. Marin, Suite 701, 7/F Philippine Center, 447 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California, 94108, USA; Viber at +659 844 4384; or E-mail: email@example.com.
For North America, a dedicated hotline number can be dialed Mondays, 6 a.m. to Saturdays, 6 a.m. Philippine Time at USA: 001-760-797-2187 and for Canada: 001 760 406 5152. To contact OFW-Contact Services Unit email at firstname.lastname@example.org.(JGL via PhilAmPress)