THE SOCIAL Security System’s (SSS) disbursements of sickness benefits reached P984.42 million in the first four months, higher than the P875.42 million released in the same period in 2018.

In a statement on Sunday, the state pension fund said it saw a P109-million year-on-year climb in sickness benefit disbursements in the January-April period.

Meanwhile, the number of beneficiaries of sickness benefit in the four months ended April climbed to 155,856 members from the 145,370 beneficiaries recorded in the same period in 2018.

SSS released P913.88 million in sickness benefits under the social security program between January and April, up 9.5% from P834.22 million disbursed in the same period in 2018.

Some P70.54 million was also paid out for sickness benefits for work-related sickness and injuries under the Employee’s Compensation Program, 71.3% higher than P41.19 million released year-on-year.

“A qualified member under the sickness benefit program receives a daily cash allowance for the number of days he is unable to work due to sickness or injury,” SSS said.

To qualify for sickness benefit, a member must have been unable to work due to an illness for at least four days, whether confined at home or in a hospital. The member must have at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period before the semester of illness.

A member can receive a maximum of 120 days in sickness benefit in one calendar year. If the member is still not capable of working after this period, the worker must report to the SSS to determine qualification for disability benefit.

“SSS aims to provide meaningful social protection to its members through the benefits that we provide and the programs that we continuously develop,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said in the statement.

“We hope that our members view the contribution rate increase as bigger savings for their future, especially in times of need,” she added. — KANV