The Social Security System (SSS) has announced a moratorium on housing and member loan payments and lower interest rates for borrowers in areas devastated by Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” while calamity-stricken employers are given an extended payment deadline for their monthly contributions.

The relaxed payment terms for contributions and loans are among the recent enhancements in the SSS Calamity Relief Package for victims of “Yolanda,” as approved by the Social Security Commission (SSC) on November 27. These cover specifically areas in central Philippines declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under a “State of Calamity,” such as Leyte, Bacolod, Samar, Palawan, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and Cebu.

“Employers are required to remit contributions only for the months that their business has been actively operating. Because of the destruction wrought by Yolanda, we understand that employers in the typhoon-stricken areas have had to stop operations,” SSS explained. “As part of the relief package, the deadline of all employer contributions that correspond to the months of actual operations from October 2013 to March 2014 will be on April 30, 2014. This extended deadline will enable affected companies to use their current resources in fully restoring their businesses.”

Resumption of regular payment deadlines will take effect for employer contributions on April 2014 onwards. Companies that remain non-operational after March 2014 must submit an accomplished SSS Form R-8 (Employer Data Change Request), along with the supporting documents, to suspend or terminate their membership with SSS.

Borrowers affected by “Yolanda” will also get a reprieve from their SSS payments under a moratorium on loan amortizations that fall due on November 2013 to June 2014. The moratorium will benefit only calamity-hit borrowers with housing, salary and other short-term member loans, as well as those paying for acquired SSS housing assets in monthly installments.

“The moratorium gives affected borrowers an eight-month grace period on loan payments due to the adjustment in their due date. This will help them use their limited funds for their subsistence needs and rebuilding expenses, without their worrying about the monthly loan penalty of one percent,” SSS added.

The interest rate for amortizations within the moratorium period was dropped to one percent per annum — in line with Malacañang’s directive to grant interest-free loans, while still adhering to the SSS Charter’s requirement for investments to earn at no less than the average Treasury-bill rate.

The applicable interest rate for new salary loans and Salary Loan Early Renewal Program (SLERP) availments under the enhanced relief package will also be one percent per annum, lower than the regular rate of 10 percent. Loan repayment will start on the sixth month after the loan grant, instead of the usual two-month grace period before the start of loan amortization.

As for loan renewals under the SLERP, deductions from the loan proceeds shall only include the outstanding principal and interest. Accrued penalties, if any, will not bear any interest and may be incorporated into the monthly amortizations of the new loan. Borrowers can directly claim their loan checks from the SSS branch where they filed their application for a quicker loan release.

The enhanced relief package also includes the increase in advance pensions to six months from the original three months for calamity-stricken pensioners. SSS also waived the P300 replacement fee for members who lost their SSS IDs or Unified Multi-purpose Identification System or “UMID” cards during the typhoon.

Earlier announced as part of the SSS relief package are the SLERP, which enables current borrowers to renew their salary loans ahead of the prescribed period; the waived one percent service fee for both new salary loan and SLERP applications; and the reduced six percent annual interest rate and waived application fee of up to P3,000 for House Repair and Improvement Loans.

The deadline of applications for the SSS Calamity Relief Package for “Yolanda” is on April 30, 2014, while members interested in the special House Repair and Improvement Loan have one year from the issuance date of the SSS circular to file their application.