BUTUAN CITY – Benefit disbursements for Social Security System (SSS) members in this city and the rest of Northern Mindanao reached P1.98 billion for the first six months of 2015, reflecting an increase of 14 percent from the P1.73 billion released for the same period last year.

SSS Assistant Vice President for Mindanao North Division Edwin M. Alo said the payments for regular pensions of about 95,400 SSS pensioners in the area, which amounted to P1.78 billion, comprised 91 percent of the total benefit disbursements from January to June 2015.

“The six-month pension total for North Mindanao was 15 percent higher than the P1.55 billion we disbursed here for the first half of 2014. This increase was bolstered by recent SSS benefit enhancements, particularly the five percent across-the-board SSS pension hike that took effect just last year,” Alo said.

Upgrading members’ benefits is among the key reforms implemented by current SSS management within the past five years. Effective September 2013, the SSS increased Employees Compensation (EC) pensions across-the-board by 10 percent and doubled the previous P10,000 EC funeral benefit to P20,000.

Following the EC increases, the SSS announced a five percent across-the-board pension hike that benefited nearly two million pensioners under the Social Security (SS) program effective June 2014. The SSS also increased its P20,000 SS funeral benefit to a variable amount of up to P40,000, depending on the members’ number of monthly contributions and average monthly salary credit.

Alo reminded workers of the advantages of active SSS membership, which entitles them and their beneficiaries to benefits for various contingencies such as sickness, maternity, partial and total disability, old age or retirement, and death. Lifetime pensions for retirement, disability and death are provided by SSS.

Butuan City is among the three North Mindanao locations covered by the SSS Regional Visit headed by SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr on September 21 to 23. The other two stops are Agusan and Surigao, where de Quiros and a panel of top SSS officials are scheduled to meet with employers and other SSS stakeholders in the area on September 22.

The SSS North Mindanao Division is headquartered in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City. Apart from its CDO hub office, the division also supervises the operations of 10 SSS branches, including Butuan, CDO-Lapasan, Camiguin, Gingoog, Iligan, Oroquieta, Ozamis, Surigao, Tandag and Valencia.

It also oversees SSS Service Offices in Robinsons Place Butuan, Robinsons CDO and San Francisco, Agusan, as well as SSS Representative Offices in Cabadbaran, Trento and Dapa.