Bicam OKs SS Act of 2018 to strengthen state pension fund

The Social Security System (SSS) said Senators and Congressmen comprising the bicameral conference committee approved on Wednesday the bill seeking to amend the 21-year old charter of the state-run pension fund.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc expressed his gratitude to the bicameral conference committee who have approved and adopted the almost unchanged Senate Bill 1753 or the Social Security Act of 2018.

“I am thankful to the Senate and the House of Representatives contingents for their leadership, and for sponsoring and shepherding this bill. Hopefully, this will be signed by the President and become a law,” Dooc added.

Members of the bicameral panel who were present during the meeting for the consolidation of SB 1753 and House Bill 2158 were Senators Richard Gordon, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Win Gatchalian, and Representatives Prospero Pichay and Mark Go. The meeting was held immediately a day after the senate version of the bill was approved on third and final reading on October 8, with 20-0-0 votes in the upper chamber.

One of the salient features of the Senate Bill 1753 is the rationalization of powers of the Social Security Commission, the policy-making body of the SSS, allowing it to expand the investing capacity of the pension fund that will generate better income for the benefit of its members and pensioners.

It also aims to strengthen the pension fund through the implementation of the gradual increase on monthly contributions from the current 11 percent to an additional of 1 percentage point starting on the year of implementation until it reaches 15 percent in 2025, and the gradual adjustment of the minimum and maximum monthly salary credit.

Further, the bill, once enacted into law, will ensure the social security of the growing number of Filipinos outside the country as it provides for the mandatory SSS coverage of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

“Right now, despite the huge number of OFWs – some say there are about 10 million of them at present – we only cover about 550,000 of them. So this law will mandatorily cover all the OFWs to ensure their social security protection,” Dooc said.

Among the features of the bicam-approved version is the inclusion of the unemployment insurance for SSS members who will be displaced involuntarily.

“Under the proposed measure, displaced workers will get a financial assistance from SSS in the form of cash equivalent to half of their average monthly salary credit for two months,” Dooc said.

Dooc, however, reminds that there will be qualifications to be entitled to this benefit.

Gordon, the principal author of SB 1753 earlier mentioned that the bill, if enacted into law, will expand, protect and grow the fund so there will be pension for all when the time of their retirement comes.

“The bill is an enhancement of the previous laws; it ensures hope that the people would not be a burden to the country; that they are partners of the government not by way of exaction of taxes but by their contribution so that their welfare is assured. The passage of the bill would expand, protect and increase the SSS fund so that when the time comes, there would be available pension for the people. It will ensure a more meaningful social security protection to members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of disability, sickness, maternity, old age, death, and other contingencies resulting in loss of income or financial burden,” Gordon said.

He further stressed that every Filipino worker during his productive years should follow the sure-fire formula, “WORK, SAVE, INVEST, PROSPER,” to become self-reliant and financially independent.