THE SOCIAL Security System’s pension and benefit disbursements climbed in the first half.

THE SOCIAL Security System (SSS) has released benefits and pensions worth P95.71 billion in the first six months to its 3.19 million members, with the bulk going to retirement funds.

In a statement on Tuesday, the state pension fund said it disbursed P55.7 billion worth of retirement benefits to 1.57 million pensioners from January to June, 8.6% higher than the P51.28 billion released in the same period last year.

Payouts for death claims by one million beneficiaries saw an increase of 4.8% to P28.63 billion in the first half from P27.32 billion a year ago.

Disbursements for disability and funeral benefits in the January-June period respectively totalled P3.59 billion, up 7.8% year-on-year, and P2.14 billion, up 9.7%, and went to 208,863 recipients.

Sickness benefits also climbed 14.9% to P1.51 billion in the first semester from the P1.32 billion logged in the same period last year, and went to 235,000 members.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said in the statement that the growth in beneficiaries and claims may be attributed to the implementation of the Republic Act (RA) 11220 Expanded Maternity Leave Law in May and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 signed into law last February.

RA 11220 increased the paid maternity leave to 105 days from 60 days, with an additional 15 days for solo mothers.

Meanwhile, RA 11199 adjusted SSS’ contribution rate to 12% from 11% and the monthly salary credits of its members to a minimum of P2,000 and P20,000 maximum.

“In the first half of 2019 alone, the number of beneficiaries and claims have already posted significant growth since the implementation of new laws and policies of the administration,” Ms. Ignacio said.

Meanwhile, total revenues of the state pension fund increased to P115.53 billion in the first half, up 20.9% from last year’s P95.55 billion, SSS said in the statement.

Broken down, contribution collections and investments and other income stood at P99.08 billion and P16.45 billion, respectively, in the first half, which SSS said climbed due to the higher contribution rate and monthly salary credit.

“Further, our investment and other income bounced back this period driven by strong and favorable market conditions,” Ms. Ignacio added.

SSS’ assets stood at P542.27 billion at end-June, 6% higher than the P511.47 billion booked in the comparable year-ago period.

“With our strong financial performance this semester, we are hoping to further strengthen the fund and ensure the continued service and providing for more and more members in the future until perpetuity,” Ms. Ignacio said. — BML