Building on its solid financial performance since the start of the year, the Social Security System (SSS) saw its total assets expand by eight percent to P415 billion as of May 2014, showing a growth of over P30 billion in just five months from its P385 billion asset level as of December 2013.

May Catherine Ciriaco, SSS Vice President for Management Services and Planning, credited the increase in assets to the six percent growth in investment level, which stood at P401 billion as of May 2014, compared to P371 billion as of end of last year. Ninety-seven percent of SSS assets are in the form of investments.

“The growth in assets augurs well for SSS’ drive to improve the system’s long-term viability and regain a perpetual fund life of 70 years, in line with international social security standards,” noted Ciriaco. Based on results of the latest SSS actuarial valuation, SSS funds are currently projected to last until 2043, with four years recently added to its fund life as a result of the 0.6 percent contribution rate hike and the new P16,000 maximum monthly salary credit effective January 2014.

Total revenues reached P64 billion during the first five months of 2014, up eight percent from P59 billion for the same period last year. Contribution collections, representing 77 percent of revenues, surged 16 percent to P49 billion, with the bulk of payments coming from the employed sector. Combined contributions from regular and household employees jumped by 16 percent to P42 billion; self-employed workers by 10 percent to P2 billion; and voluntary members by 23 percent to P4 billion.

Ciriaco said SSS investment and other income surpassed the P9 billion target for the five-month period by 59 percent primarily accounted for by equity earnings.

On the expenditure side, P41 billion or 93 percent were attributed to benefit payments, which went up by 16 percent due to streamlined claims processing — particularly for death, disability and retirement (DDR) that normally comprise majority of benefit payouts. For the first five months of 2014, DDR payments totaled P38 billion, or 93 percent of benefit releases for the period.

Benefit payments during this five-month period also covered the six months’ worth of advanced pension disbursed to pensioners affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Meanwhile, operating expenses (opex) posted a modest increase of four percent to P3 billion, utilizing only 49 percent of allowed charter limit. The higher opex can be attributed to other initiatives such as conducting information campaigns, and expanding and relocating SSS office spaces to provide better facilities for members.

“Opex included the five new branches and seven SOs launched from January to May this year. We plan to open additional SSS offices in other key locations to reach out to more workers and widen members’ access to our services,” Ciriaco said. As of June 2014, the number of local SSS offices totaled 239, which includes 141 branches, 33 representative offices, and 65 SOs.