The Social Security System (SSS) has released P11.02 billion for the December and 13th month pensions of nearly two million SSS pensioners all over the country and overseas, as part of the annual SSS year-end tradition that started back in 1988.

Funds for the December and 13th month pensions were released as early as November 15, 2013 to the SSS’ partner banks, which in turn are tasked to credit the amount to pensioners’ bank accounts. Some 16,300 pensioners were scheduled to get the year-end benefit as pension checks sent via registered mail.

SSS pensioners can withdraw their monthly pensions on a schedule based on the members’ contingency date for retirement, disability or death. However, in the spirit of the Christmas season, the SSS has requested banks to disburse the 13th month pensions as early as the first week of this month.

The P11.02 billion total year-end pension this year is seven percent higher than the P10.27 billion released by SSS for December and 13th month pensions of 1.7 million pensioners in 2012.

The 13th month pension is equal to the amount of the regular monthly pension of retirees and survivor pensioners, while for disability pensioners this excludes the carer’s allowance. SSS members and beneficiaries getting regular pensions, including minor or incapacitated children of deceased members receiving dependent’s pensions, are entitled to the 13th month pension.

Over 99 percent of SSS’ 1.8 million pensioners are enrolled in the Pension Remittance Thru Banks Program, which enables them to withdraw their pensions directly from their single savings accounts through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). The SSS also releases pensions in the form of mailed checks to pensioners with approved requests for exemption from the program due to valid reasons such as inaccessibilty of ATMs in their area.

The SSS also reminded pensioners to mark their schedule for the Annual Confirmation of Pensioners or “ACOP” Program. During the members’ birth month, retiree and death pensioners must present themselves to their depository bank, and the disability pensioners to the nearest SSS branch as ACOP compliance to confirm their continued eligibility to receive monthly pensions.

Pensioners unable to report personally, such as those based overseas, with poor health, under confinement, or aged 80 years and above, are allowed to submit the ACOP requirements through mail or email, or through their designated representative. The SSS will also make special considerations and accept requests for home visits for pensioners who find it difficult to go to the bank or to SSS offices due to physical constraints.