SOCIAL Security System (SSS) saw its benefit disbursements rise by 13.2% to P236.3 billion in the first 11 months of the year, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Regino said the increase in disbursements came on the back of higher benefit claims from members and pensioners and benefit releases for retirement, disability, and death.

“For the first 11 months of 2022, we have received 4.58 million benefit claims. This is 7.3% higher than the 4.27 million benefit claims we received for the same period last year,” Mr. Regino said.

“Our pensioners, which stood at three million in 2021, grew to 3.18 million by November 2022, while our retirement, disability, and death benefit monthly disbursements, which averaged at P16.6 billion in 2021, increased to P19.53 billion for January to November this year,” he added.

SSS said its benefit disbursements and claims grew by an average of 11.4% and 7.9%, respectively, from 2016 to 2021 despite the 1% decrease seen during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The upward trend in SSS benefit payments in recent years is also attributed to the grant of additional monthly benefit, implementation of a new benefit program, and higher salary base for benefit computation,” the state pension fund added.

“With all these changes, we were able to disburse P1.20 trillion benefits through 23.87 million claims in less than six years, specifically from January 2017 to November 2022,” Mr. Regino added.

In 2017, SSS gave an additional monthly benefit of P1,000 for pensioners following an order from the then-President.

Meanwhile, in 2019, the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 expanded SSS’ mandatory membership coverage, introduced the Unemployment Benefit Program and Workers’ Investment Savings Program, and increased the minimum and maximum monthly salary credit (MSC).

RA No. 11210 was also signed in the same year, which increased the number of compensable days of maternity leave to 105 days for live childbirth, regardless of the type of delivery, and an additional 15 days if the female worker qualifies as a solo parent. This was from the previous 60 days for normal delivery and 78 days for cesarean section delivery.

The law also extended the maternity leave to every pregnancy. including miscarriage or emergency termination, and regardless of frequency. Previously, this was limited to the first four deliveries or miscarriages.

Meanwhile, from 2011 to 2016, SSS’ benefit disbursements stood at P606.47 billion for 16.79 million claims.

“As we continue to see higher benefit payments through these developments, it is equally important for us to also implement the scheduled reforms provided under the Social Security Act of 2018 that aim to strengthen the SSS fund for us to continue serving our current and future members and their beneficiaries,” Mr. Regino said.

Next month, SSS will increase its contribution rate to 14% from 13% previously, as mandated under RA No. 11199.

The employer’s share of the contribution will rise to 9.5% from 8.5%, while that of the employee will stay at 4.5%.

Meanwhile, self-employed, voluntary, and land-based overseas Filipino worker members will shoulder the increase.

The minimum and maximum MSCs will also rise to P4,000 from P3,000 and P30,000 from P25,000, respectively. — A.M.C. Sy