THE SOCIAL SECURITY System (SSS) has released P84 million worth of unemployment benefits in the first two months of implementation, it said in a statement at the weekend. The financial assistance went to 6,907 members of the pension fund who lost their jobs as of Oct. 21 or two months after it started receiving applications for the unemployment benefit, SSS Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said.

“We are now seeing the fruits of labor of our lawmakers, stakeholders and SSS representatives who have crafted the Social Security Act of 2018,” she said. “We are able to provide cash benefits to qualified members who needed the SSS the most when they unexpectedly lost their jobs.”

The Makati branch approved the highest number of unemployment benefit applications at 943 with releases amounting to P13.76 million, followed by Bacoor branch with 876 applications and P8.98 million in benefits, and Biñan branch with 833 applications and P9.74 million in benefits. The Pasig-Pioneer and Cebu branches both had 437 approved applications with releases worth P6.10 million and P5.16 million, respectively.

Ms. Ignacio said that members who may avail themselves of the unemployment benefits are those who were involuntarily separated from work starting March 5 this year and should not be more than 60 years old.

The Social Security Act of 2018 provides cash benefits to members equivalent to 50% of their average monthly salary for two months at most.

Involuntary separation includes installation of labor-saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment, closure and illness of the worker whose continued employment is illegal or bad to their co-workers’ health. — Beatrice M. Laforga