The Social Security System’s (SSS) benefit releases amounted to P83.66 billion for the first nine months of 2015, up by 10 percent from P76.17 billion for the same period last year, as the total number of members who applied for various SSS benefits increased by eight percent to 2.7 million.

SSS Vice President for Benefits Administration Division Agnes E. San Jose said that 99 percent of the nine-month benefit releases were paid under the Social Security (SS) Program, which is the standard benefit package for members. SS benefit payments grew by 10 percent from 75.41 billion to P82.84 billion.

“About 40,800 members eligible for benefits under the Employees’ Compensation or ‘EC’ Program received a total of P817.97 million in additional financial support from the SSS due to the work-related nature of their sickness, disability or death. This was higher by seven percent from the P763.82 million EC benefits disbursed for the same period last year,” San Jose noted.

Benefit types offered under the SS Program include retirement, death, disability, maternity, sickness and funeral, while the EC Program covers work-related contingencies such as death, disability, sickness, funeral, medical services and rehabilitation. Both the SS and EC programs offer pension benefits.

“A wide range of contingencies are covered by the SSS. We urge members to ensure that their contributions are up-to-date so that they and their loved ones qualify for benefits when the need arises. Members with higher and more frequent contributions also reap higher computed benefits,” San Jose said.

SS retirement claims, which reached P46.67 billion or 56 percent of the total benefit disbursements, jumped 13 percent from P41.41 billion in 2014. Other SS benefit payments include P25.43 billion for death, P3.88 billion for maternity, P3.07 billion for disability, P2.23 billion for funeral, and P1.57 billion for sickness.

Death claims accounted for the largest share of EC benefits at 78 percent of the total. The SSS also disbursed EC benefits amounting to P83.07 million for disability, P77.68 million for sickness, P12.75 million for medical services and rehabilitation, and P6.17 million for funeral grants.

In terms of pension releases, combined payments under the SS and EC programs amounted to P57.69 billion, higher by 10 percent from P52.42 billion paid from January to September last year. The nine-month SS and EC pension payments this year totaled P57.09 billion and P598.87 million, respectively.

“Nearly 70 percent of all benefit releases were paid for the SSS pensions of members and beneficiaries. Pensioners normally receive their benefits through their own bank accounts, but there are also rare cases of those who choose to get monthly SSS pension checks from the mail,” San Jose noted.

About 60 percent of pension disbursements, or P34.43 billion, were paid for SS retirement claims. SSS pension payments also include P20.77 billion for SS death, P1.89 billion for SS disability, P546.15 million for EC death, and P52.72 million for EC disability.

The SSS has granted a series of benefit hikes in recent years, such as the increase in SS funeral grants from a fixed amount of P20,000 to a variable amount ranging from P20,000 to P40,000, depending on the member’s number of contributions and average monthly salary credit or reported income to the SSS, and the five-percent across-the-board pension increase for all SSS pensioners that took effect in June 2014.

Effective September 2013, the SSS also increased EC pensions for disability and death by ten percent, and EC funeral grants were doubled from the previous P10,000 to P20,000.