SSS unemployment benefits hit P870 million

Published by rudy Date posted on November 20, 2021

by Elijah Felice Rosales – The Philippine Star, 20 Nov 2021

MANILA, Philippines — State-run provident fund Social Security System (SSS) has issued P870 million in unemployment benefits in nine months to September as thousands of workers have yet to go back to the jobs they lost to the pandemic.

SSS president and CEO Aurora Ignacio yesterday said the amount served the financial needs of 67,937 members displaced by the health crisis.

Ignacio said the SSS will sustain the distribution of unemployment benefits to its jobless members amid the gradual recovery of the economy from the pandemic.

“We fully understand the plight of private sector workers who have been laid off from their jobs. With this milestone benefit, we remain committed in providing financial aid amid the pandemic,” Ignacio said.

The government said the jobless rate in September jumped to a year high of 8.9 percent, translating to 4.25 million unemployed Filipinos during the month.

Also, participation rate slid to 63.3 percent, from 63.6 percent in August, forcing at least 269,000 Filipinos to drop out of the labor force, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Ignacio said the unemployment benefit forms part of SSS programs mandated under the Social Security Act of 2018, which expanded the provident fund’s services to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and scheduled the increase in the contribution rate.

Under the law, members who lost their jobs to involuntary separation should be paid by the SSS with cash equivalent to 50 percent of their monthly salary credit for up to two months. However, the beneficiary must be below the age of 60 and has remitted at least 36 months of contribution.

Further, a member can only claim unemployment benefits once every three years. Ignacio said the program covers even kasambahays and OFWs who were forced out of their employment.

According to SSS, involuntary separation refers to removal from work caused by the installation of labor-saving devices, such as artificial intelligence; downsizing, redundancy or retrenchment; business closure; economic downturn or natural calamities like the pandemic; among others.

Last year unemployment benefits extended by the SSS ballooned 10-fold to P1.7 billion, from P177.86 million in 2019, as firms forced shut by the lockdowns had to lay off workers to cut their losses.

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