Calbayog City, Samar – The Social Security System (SSS) paid out to members in Central Visayas P2.04 billion in benefits for the first four months of 2015, posting a double-digit growth from the same period last year.

SSS Assistant Vice President for Central Visayas Division Helen Solito said disbursements for Social Security and Employees Compensation (EC) benefits increased by 14 percent or P252 million higher than 2014 record.

“Payments for our existing retiree, disability and survivor pensioners comprised the biggest share amounting to P1.83 billion or nearly 90 percent of the total disbursements. The other 10 percent consisted of initial and lump sum payments in pension and short term benefits.” the official noted.

Lump sum benefits pertain to one-time payouts for members who have not met the minimum requirements to qualify for a pension, while initial pension is for the accrued amount resulting from delayed applications for due benefits.

From January to April 2015, initial and lump sum benefits paid to members in the region were as follows: P4.69 million, retirement; P48.65 million, death; P7.25 million, disability; P50.02 million, maternity; P12.09 million, sickness; P85.54 million, funeral; and P340,000, EC medical services and rehabilitation.

“The increase in benefit releases also mirrors how much people rely on social security in times of financial need. Not only they see it as source of immediate cash, but also recognize their SSS savings as long-term investments,” Solito said.

SSS is the biggest pension fund in the country in terms of membership with over 32 million members worldwide. As of April 2015, SSS membership in Central Visayas widened to 2.4 million members, including some 24,000 new registrants.

“Aside from SSS and EC benefits, a large number of salary loan applications were received by our SSS offices from January to April 2015. For the period, we have granted about P548 million in salary loans and P15.41 million in educational loans,” Solito said.

Solito who was with SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros Jr. and other SSS senior officials in Samar province for a regional visit said the recent contribution rate hike and new monthly salary credit that was implemented last year also paved way for higher benefits.

“The higher figures posted, particularly for retirement were still an offshoot of the reforms we have taken last year,” she said, noting that SSS pensions were raised by five percent in June 2014, a few months after the 11-percent contribution rate was adopted.

SSS operations in Central Visayas cover the areas within the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Samar, and Leyte.