The Social Security System (SSS) gave 30 more days to the five-day prescriptive period for filing sickness notifications of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for their illnesses not requiring hospitalization, in consideration of their limited time and accessibility to SSS offices while abroad.
Dr. Brenda P. Viola, SSS Officer-in-Charge of the Medical Services Division, said OFWs previously had five calendar days from the start of home confinement to file their sickness notification, and this prescriptive period is now extended to a total of 35 calendar days.
“For sickness notifications filed past the prescriptive period, the days of confinement to be covered by SSS is deemed to start only on the fifth day immediately prior to the date of filing. Hence, the longer prescriptive period helps OFWs avoid lower benefit amounts or rejected claims due to late notifications, as compared with the previous five-day leeway,” Viola said.
Under the previous SSS policy, if a sick OFW member was confined at home from June 1 to 15 and his sickness notification was filed only on June 12, or one week after the five-day prescriptive period, the computed sickness benefit would merely cover nine days from June 7 to 15. With the extended 35-day prescriptive period, the OFW will be compensated for the entire 15 days that he was sick given the same date of filing for the sickness notification and assuming the benefit claim was filed on time.
Apart from sickness notifications, the SSS also observes prescriptive periods for filing sickness benefit claims. For voluntary members such as OFWs, this prescriptive period is one year from start of illness for home confinement, and one year from date of discharge for illnesses with hospital confinement.
OFWs can file their sickness notifications and benefit claims in person, thru a representative or via mail to any SSS office in the Philippines or overseas. The SSS operates foreign representative offices in various OFW country destinations worldwide: Hong Kong, Macau, Brunei, Taipei (Taiwan), Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in Asia; Riyadh, Al-Khobar and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi and Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Kuwait, Doha (Qatar), Bahrain and Oman in the Middle East; Rome and Milan (Italy) and London (United Kingdom) in Europe; and in Toronto (Canada).
The SSS sickness benefit is a daily cash allowance granted to qualified members confined at home or in the hospital for at least four days, including the period for recovery, due to an illness or injury. The number of compensable days is up to 120 days per calendar year that can be extended for another 120 days the following year on account of the same medical condition. Illnesses or injuries that persist for over 240 days can qualify for SSS disability benefits.
Viola advised OFWs to file their notifications and claims on time to ensure that benefits will be paid for each day of sickness. OFW members can visit the SSS website (www.sss.gov.ph)
for more details on SSS programs and for downloadable application forms, as well as join the official SSS Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/SSSPh) for SSS updates and assistance.
“They may also reach the SSS OFW Contact Services Unit (OFW-CSU) anytime through e-mail at email@example.com, or through telephone at +632 364-7796 or +632 364-7798 from Mondays to Fridays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Philippine time). Within the year, we will announce the list of our international toll-free numbers for the SSS queries of our members based overseas,” she said.
The state-run SSS has 1.07 million OFW members as of June 2015, reflecting a nine-percent jump from about 983,000 registered OFWs as of June 2014.