FAST FACTS: What is the SSS unemployment benefit?

Pauline Macaraeg

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FAST FACTS: What is the SSS unemployment benefit?
The Social Security System says they are ‘prepared’ to give benefits to employees laid off due to novel coronavirus

MANILA, Philippines – The novel coronavirus pandemic is not only affecting public health but also the economy. (READ: Novel coronavirus: What makes an outbreak a pandemic?)

Citing the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a meeting with Social Security System (SSS) officials on Wednesday, March 11, that some 30,000 to 60,000 workers are projected to lose their jobs nationwide as a result of the possible layoffs or closures of private companies hit by the economic fallout.

In response, Dominguez announced on Thursday, March 12, that the SSS is ready to pay up to P1.2 billion for unemployment benefits of workers affected by such layoffs and closures.

Dominguez also chairs the Social Security Commission (SSC).

What is the SSS unemployment benefit?

Also called unemployment insurance or involuntary separation benefit, this is a cash benefit granted to covered employees who are involuntarily separated from employment. It is provided under Republic Act No. 11199 or Social Security Act of 2018.

The unemployment benefit is not a loan, which means that there is no need to pay an additional amount to the SSS for this benefit.

Who are eligible for the SSS unemployment benefit, and how can they avail it? 

All laid-off employees covered by the SSS are qualified to avail of the unemployment benefit. This includes domestic workers and overseas Filipino workers, provided that they are not over 60 years old at the time of involuntary separation. Possible causes of employment termination include retrenchment or downsizing, closing of operation, redundancy, etc. 

The age limit is different for underground or surface mineworkers (50 years old) and racehorse jockeys (55 years old).

In addition, members who wish to get the benefit should have paid at least 36 monthly contributions – 12 months of which should be part of the 18-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation.

To apply, members should have one original and one photocopy of a primary identification document and certification of involuntary separation from the Department of Labor and Employment.

Who are not qualified for SSS unemployment benefits?

Members who were involuntary separated from their companies are not eligible for the unemployment insurance if they were terminated due to serious misconduct, willful disobedience to lawful orders, gross and habitual neglect of duties, fraud or breach of trust, commission of crime or offense, and analogous cases like abandonment, gross inefficiency, and disloyalty.

How much can an individual get as unemployment benefit?

Members will be paid by the SSS in the form of monthly cash payments equivalent to 50% of their average monthly salary credit for a maximum of two months. You can find how much your monthly salary credit is in this table prepared by the SSS.

Can the SSS afford this?

Dominguez said SSS Senior Vice President and chief actuary Edgar Cruz confirmed that the SSS has set aside P660 million for the distribution of unemployment benefits, and up to P1.2 billion “under a worst-case scenario.”

The DOF added that the average unemployment benefit of qualified members is about P11,000, while the maximum cash benefit members can avail is at P20,000. 

Cruz explained that if all the 60,000 workers in the worst-case scenario are laid off and apply for the benefit, the total amount would be P660 million. If this is computed using the maximum amount, it would total P1.2 billion.

The current cash position of SSS is at P21 billion, according to Cruz. In 2018, SSS recorded earnings worth P22.67 billion from revenues of P212.55 billion. Its actuarial life is projected to last until 2045 – extended by 13 more years following the enactment of the Social Security Act of 2018. –

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Pauline Macaraeg

Pauline Macaraeg is digital forensics researcher for Rappler. She started as a fact checker and researcher in 2019, before becoming part of Rappler's Digital Forensics Team. She writes about the developing digital landscape, as well as the spread and impact of disinformation and harmful online content. When she's not working, you can find her listening to podcasts or K-pop bops.