The Social Security System (SSS) has announced a calamity relief package that offers early release of pensions, eased-down loan terms, and an extended payment period to help members affected by widespread floods caused by heavy southwest monsoon rains.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. said the package covers members in calamity areas officially declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which include affected cities and municipalities in the National Capital Region; Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales and Bulacan in Region III; Laguna in Region IV-A; Culion, El Nido and Linacapan in Palawan in Region IV-B; and other areas which may be declared by the NDRRMC.
“The various provisions in the SSS relief package will help affected members and pensioners to recover from the disaster, rebuild their homes, re-establish their source of livelihood and attend to their immediate needs such as food, clothing, shelter and health care,” he stated.
Firstly, the package includes a three–month advance in pensions for pensioners residing in declared calamity areas. Those who apply on or before August 31, 2012 will get their October, November and December pensions, while those who apply after August 31 until September 30, 2012, will receive their November, December and January 2013 pensions. Applicants must submit a certification of residence coming from their Barangay Chairman. “Under the relief package, retirement, disability and survivor pensioners who applied for advance release of pensions will get their pensions through checks. However, the 13th month pension will still be given in December so that they can still look forward to a bonus at the end of the year,” the SSS chief explained.
Meanwhile, employed, self-employed and voluntary members affected by the floods can apply for an SSS Salary Loan, as long as they have at least 36 months contributions, including six monthly premiums paid within the twelve-month period prior to loan application. Members with at least 72 months contributions are eligible for the two-month salary loan.
“For those with existing salary loans, we have opened the Salary Loan Early Renewal Program or ‘SLERP’ to enable them to renew their loan ahead of the prescribed two-year period,” de Quiros said. “The sanctions imposed under the current Loan Penalty Condonation Program will be lifted and the loan’s service fee of one percent will be waived.” The SLERP is open for application until September 30, 2012.
“For members whose homes were damaged by the floods, the interest rates of our Direct House Repair and Improvement Loans are now lower by two percentage points. Under the calamity relief package, the applicable interest rate will be six percent per annum for loans P400,000 and below, and seven percent for loans over P400,000 up to P1 million,” de Quiros explained. “Since it takes time to put together the required documents, members have until June 30, 2013 to avail themselves of the Direct House Repair Loan.”
Finally, the SSS extended the payment deadline to August 15 for members in affected areas whose cut-off date for contributions and loan amortizations falls within August 7 to 14. The extended deadline applies to all members whose 10-digit SS number ends with “1” or “2.”
“We recognize the devastation that the monsoon rains have wrought on our countrymen. As the state institution in-charge of their social security, we aim to provide our members with some comfort and relief in these times of calamity, so that they can get back on their feet as soon as possible,” de Quiros affirmed. – Sigfredo Ibay, SSS Media