The Philippines’ Social Security System (SSS) paid out 4.23 billion pesos (US$83.05 million) in benefits to its members working in land-based jobs abroad last year, which was equivalent to two-thirds of the amount they contributed, according to the pension fund’s top executive.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio says the benefits were paid to 61,406 workers.
The payments included 2.87 billion pesos for regular benefits such as retirement, death and disability, and 271 million pesos for sickness, maternity and other short-term benefits. Initial and lump-sum payments totalled 1.09 billion pesos.
Filipinos working overseas contributed 6.37 billion pesos to the pension fund last year.
"We are glad that we were able to translate the contributions of our dear [overseas foreign workers] into benefits that were disbursed to them during time of contingencies," Ms. Ignacio says in a statement on August 11.
Her remarks are a veiled reminder that Filipinos working overseas stand to benefit by becoming SSS members.
Legislation passed this February makes it mandatory for these workers to contribute 12% of their monthly salaries to the pension fund, the same as domestic private sector employees. The contribution rate, which was up from 11% previously, will increase to 15% by 2025. Contributions are shared between employers and employees.
Ms. Ignacio urged Filipinos working abroad to view the compulsory coverage as added savings and protection for their future, instead of a burden
"We would like our members to know that membership in SSS is for life. We also want them to see their SSS contributions as long-term savings and not as an added expense,” she says.
According to the Philippine Statistics Office, as of September 2018, there were 2.3 million Filipinos working abroad, including as domestic helpers, and in the food and beverage and healthcare sectors.
The SSS, the largest pension fund in the Philippines, had nearly 500 billion pesos of assets under management at the end of 2018, 43% of which was invested in government bonds and 19% in stocks. The rest of the assets were in bank deposits, loans to members, corporate bonds, real estate, and fund of funds.