PENSIONS released by Social Security System (SSS) rose by P4.84 billion from a year earlier to P62.19 billion as of May, it said in a statement.

The state pension fund traced the increase to more pensioners, which rose by 100,000 to 2.5 million.

SSS pension releases accounted for 78.6% of total benefit disbursements in the five months to May. The agency had more than 1.5 million retiree-pensioners, about 940,000 survivorship pensioners and 85,000 pensioners receiving disability benefits. SSS has three types of pensions — retirement, death and disability.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of SSS pensioners relying now on our pension loan program for their short-term and emergency needs instead of going to loan sharks,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said in the statement.

Retiree-pensioners are members who are 60 years or older with at least 120 monthly contributions before their retirement. Survivorship-pensioners are primary beneficiaries of a deceased member who paid at least 36 monthly contributions.

“We cannot overemphasize the importance of consistently paying monthly contributions to SSs so that in contingencies where there is loss of income, the SSS can provide them with assistance in the form of pension, cash allowances or loans,” Mr. Ignacio said. “If they also wish to have higher pensions, they must also save more with SSS.” — Beatrice M. Laforga