House bill seeks to triple unemployment benefits from SSS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 7) — A lawmaker has filed a bill which seeks to triple the amount of unemployment benefits that laid off workers can receive from the Social Security System.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel filed House Bill 8594, which proposes to grant displaced workers a one-time insurance claim amounting to 50 percent of their monthly salary for a maximum of six months.

This measure would amend the Social Security Act of 2018, wherein the current claim is equal to 50 percent of the monthly salary for a maximum of two months.

If approved and signed into law, this means that an individual who used to have a monthly income of ₱15,000 can receive ₱45,000 in unemployment benefits. At present, the same person can receive only ₱15,000.

“Our bill seeks to give more meaning to social security and to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State to afford full protection to labor,” Pimentel said. “We have to guarantee households income security and safeguard them against distress when breadwinners lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

Millions of Filipinos in the country and overseas were left jobless due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected the global economy. Among the more recent major workforce reductions was announced last week by the Philippine Airlines, which will lay off 30% of its employees, or about 2,300 people, amid losses due to the crisis.

Those forced out of work may avail of the unemployment benefit from SSS guaranteed under the Social Security Act of 2018. This is a cash grant which covers employees, including kasambahays and overseas Filipino workers, who were separated from employment due to “retrenchment or downsizing, closure or cessation of operation, installation of labor-saving devices, or redundancy,” among other cases as may be determined by the SSS or the Department of Labor and Employment.

To be eligible for the claim, an SSS member should not be over 60 years old at the time of the termination; not over 50, if an underground or surface mineworker; and not over 55, if a racehorse jockey. A member should also have paid at least 36 monthly contributions, 12 months of which should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation.

The benefit is granted through a one-time payment, and the claim must be filed within a year from the date of the separation.

Documentary requirements include the original and a photocopy of any of the valid ID cards or documents (see list of valid IDs/documents here) and the Department of Labor and Employment certification on the termination.

The cash grant shall be credited to the member's SSS UMID card enrolled as ATM, or UBP Quick Card Account.