MANILA – The Social Security System (SSS) has received about 346,375 applications, which is equivalent to some PHP5.4 billion, for its Calamity Loan Assistance Program (CLAP) since its launch on June 15 until June 30, an official said Wednesday.

SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio in a Laging Handa public briefing said they have received some 4,496 applications, equivalent to PHP60 million, for their Unemployment Insurance Benefits from June 1 to 23.

Ignacio said CLAP is an ongoing program of the agency which is given whenever there is a localized calamity in the country.

However, because of the pronouncement by President Rodrigo Duterte placing the entire country under a state of calamity due to the coronavirus pandemic, she said the program has been opened to aid those who need assistance.

Available po itong assistance program na ito para sa mamamayan ng buong bansa na nangangailangan ng tulong para sa Covid calamity, Covid quarantine ano po. So, galing po ito sa pondo ng SSS (This assistance is available to all our members nationwide who need assistance due to Covi-19. This will come from the funds of the SSS),” she said.

Ignacio said the average loan assistance fund is between PHP11,500 up to PHP16,400.

She clarified, though, that to be able to apply for CLAP, a member should have paid his or her membership for the past three years, of which, six months of it should have been paid in the last 12 months before applying for the calamity loan program.

So, kung hindi po sila nakapagbayad for the last three years at wala nga po iyong six months na iyon in the last 12 months, mari-reject po sila dito. So, lahat po ng myembro ng SSS or would-be members, ini-encourage po natin talagang ipagpatuloy at walang putul-putol po ng payment ng contribution para ma-qualify po kayo doon sa mga dapat pong benefits or loans na puwede ninyong ma-avail (so, if they did not pay for the last three years, and the last six months, their application will be rejected. We encourage all SSS members and would-be members to continue the payment of their contribution to qualify for the benefits and loans available to them),” Ignacio said.

So far, SSS has already rejected about 119,000 applications for not being able to meet the requirements.

To be able to comply with the Inter-Agency Task Force's health and safety protocols, all applications are done online.

Payment process

Interest rates for the SSS calamity loan program are capped at 6 percent.

SSS is offering CLAP for three months and the agency will accept online applications until September 14.

The terms of payment are two years and three months or equivalent to 27 months.

"Ang ibig sabihin po nito, iyong first three months after na nag-apply ay naka-moratorium po, wala po kayong babayaran na installment during that time at magsisimula po ang collection only on the fourth month pa po after the application (This means, the first three months after they applied is under moratorium. There is no payment of installment and the collection will start on the fourth month after the application)," Ignacio said.

For the Unemployment Insurance Benefit which is included in the approved SSS charter in 2018 and took effect in 2019, a member can apply if he or she went unemployed involuntarily.

So, kung na-unemployed po ang isang miyembro ng SSS, involuntarily, at sila po ay natanggal, na-redundant, nawalan ng trabaho, nagsara iyong kumpaniya, hindi po voluntary ‘no, puwede po silang mag-apply ng unemployment insurance benefit. Pero ganoon din po, kailangan po sila ay nag-contribute na the last 36 months at 12 months doon ay nabayaran nila in the last 18 months (If an SSS member went unemployed involuntarily, they were relieved, lost their job, or the company closed, they can apply for the unemployment insurance benefit. They should have contributed in the last 36 months of which, the last 12 months should have been paid in the last 18 months)," she said.

Ignacio said from August 2019, SSS already paid around PHP354 million to its members through the Unemployment Insurance Benefit.

This is equivalent to about 30,000 employees.

To be able to avail of this benefit, a member should not be over 60-years-old, and “ang separation naman nila should not be voluntary, kailangan po na-retrench sila, na-downsize, nagkaroon ng closure or pagtigil ng negosyo o iyong reasons brought about by the coronavirus (their separation from the company was not voluntary, there's retrenchment, downsizing, closure, brought about by the coronavirus)."

Applications should also be done online through my.sss.

"Ang unemployment benefit po na ito ay equivalent ng 50 percent of the member’s average monthly salary credit for two months. So, kung halimbawa po ang suweldo mo ay nasa, sabihin na lang po nating PHP20,000, ang 50 percent po niyan PHP10,000 ang makukuha ninyo for the two months...consecutive months (This unemployment benefit is equivalent to 50 percent of the member's average monthly salary credit for two months. For example, the salary is PHP20,000, 50 percent of that is PHP10,000, which they will get for two months)," she said.

“Ang submission po ng application ay one-year prescriptive period simula ng separation, tapos ang atin pong mga miyembro ay kailangan magpakita ng certification nga po na na-displace sila. Pati overseas workers po puwede (The submission of application has a one-year prescriptive period from the start of separation. the member should present a certification that they were displaced. Even overseas workers may avail of this)," she added.

Aside from these programs, SSS has also offered the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program for small business employees which ended on June 28.

The fund for the SBWS was given by the national government as a subsidy, amounting to PHP50 billion.

The agency targeted to benefit around 3.4 million employees and they were able to cater to 91 percent of this, which was given in April, May, and June in two tranches.

Unused funds were returned by the SSS to the Bureau of Treasury with a total amount of PHP5 billion, which may be used for other programs to help small businesses. (PNA)