SSS to work closely with DFA, DOLE to ensure OFW coverage

The state-run Social Security System (SSS) is expected to work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in ensuring the compulsory social security coverage of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) under the proposed Senate Bill that will amend the Social Security Law with Senator Richard Gordon as principal author.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said that one of the proposed measures under Senate Bill 1753, which seeks to amend the 21-year old charter of the pension fund, is the mandatory coverage of OFWs over the world to protect them from hazards of contingencies.

“Based on latest statistics, there are more than two million OFWs around the world but only more than 583,000 are actively paying their SSS monthly contributions. With the help of Sen. Richard Gordon, our SS champion in the Senate, our goal is to make sure that all Filipinos in and out of the country are protected under the SSS,” Dooc said.

“And we are also aware that this goal of ours is not as simple as it seems. This means tremendous work for us and partner agencies like DFA and DOLE, which oversee OFWs. We will be working closely with them to deliver the SSS mandate and to make sure that we will make the hopefully soon-to-be-law implemented,” Dooc added.

Senator Gordon ensured other lawmakers during the interpellation on the Senate floor that the mandatory coverage of OFWs will be properly implemented by the SSS as they work hand-in-hand with other government agencies.

Gordon, together with officials of the pension fund, said one of the ways to implement this is through strengthened bilateral agreements with different countries in the world.

“There are only 13 states that have agreed to have a treaty with us to cover all workers but that should not stop us. Today, we have 13, tomorrow, well 15, your honor. Next year, we may have 17 and of course, that should not stop the Department of Foreign Affairs and our DOLE. And all of us should always bring this advocacy that we should protect all workers of the world,” Gordon said.

To date, the Philippines thru the SSS as lead negotiator, has already forged into 13 bilateral social security agreements with Austria, UK and Northern Ireland, Spain, France, Canada, Quebec, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Germany and Japan.

Gordon deemed the proposed measure a landmark bill as it will enable the SSS to fulfill its objective of universal coverage.

“It is our constitutional duty to afford full protection to labor, whether local or overseas, and fundamental to this is the provision of social security protection to all Filipinos, including OFWs. It is likewise provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone has the right to social security,” the senator said.

Dooc, meanwhile, said that the main purpose is to provide OFWs the mechanism to save in order to secure their retirement through entitlement to lifetime SSS pension benefits, the value of which is at least P5.00 per peso amount of what they contributed.

He explained that an OFW paying the maximum monthly SSS contribution of P1,760 (or about USD35) for at least 10 years will be entitled to a wide range of SSS benefits and privileges such as: basic monthly pension amounting to at least P6,400 upon retirement, disability or death, with an additional monthly benefit of P1,000; other benefits for pensioners like 13th month pension, dependents pension, and supplemental monthly allowance of P500 for disability pensioners; short-term benefits in the form of cash allowances for sickness (up to P57,600 per year; and maternity for female members (up to P32,000 for normal delivery/miscarriage and P41,600 for caesarian delivery); funeral grant amounting to at least P20,000; salary loan of up to P32,000, and direct housing loan of up to P2-million.

In the event of death, 100% of their pension will be transferred to their spouse and dependent children as primary beneficiaries. The least that they can get if unable to complete 10 years of contributions upon retirement is a refund of all their contributions plus interest.

A provident fund scheme, called the SSS Flexi-fund, is also being offered exclusively to OFWs to allow them to set aside an additional portion of their earnings abroad and maximize their returns.

“SSS contributions are OFWs’ long-term savings for the future, especially when they eventually decide to return home and stay for good to retire,” Dooc said.

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

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