SSS pension loan availments hit over P100M

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AVAILMENTS under the pension loan program of the Social Security System (SSS) reached over P100 million during the first month of implementation, the state-run firm said on Friday.

In a statement, the SSS said disbursements under the program reached P107.77 million as of Oct. 3, a month since the facility was announced in September.

A total of 4,341 pensioners secured fresh credit funding for their “short-term financial needs,” the state-run firm said.

The pension fund for private sector employees launched the loan program on Sept. 3 to respond to growing demand from senior citizens for cheap loans — particularly for emergency medical expenses — and steer them away from loan sharks and other informal lenders.

Pensioners can avail of a minimum loan equal to twice the amount of his/her basic monthly pension, while the ceiling is set at P32,000.

Qualified to apply for loans are retired SSS members aged 55 to 80 who have no outstanding loan balances or payables to the pension fund. The retiree must also have no advance pension under the SSS Calamity Package and should be receiving regular monthly pension for at least six months.

The SSS said their Diliman branch saw the biggest loan releases amounting to P17.87 million, followed by Cebu (P8.99 million), Bacolod (P7.26 million), Bacoor (P5.88 million), and Zamboanga (P4.99 million).

The loans will be charged a 10% interest rate per annum. The amount can be repaid within three, six, or 12 months to be deducted from their monthly pension payments. Deductions will start two months after the loan has been granted to the SSS member.

The SSS is awaiting approval on its proposal to raise contribution rates in order to preserve its fund life, which has been shortened following the P1,000 across-the-board increase in monthly pensions which took effect January last year.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc wants to raise the monthly rate for members to 14% from 11% in order to make the pension fund last until 2044 from the current 2032.

Mr. Dooc has also cautioned that the signing into law of the 105-day maternity leave for working mothers would mean that the SSS needs to shell out an additional P4 billion every year just to accommodate the additional benefit. This would be on top of the P5.5-6 billion disbursed for maternity leaves every year. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez