Even with the nationwide rollout still a few weeks away, the Social Security System’s (SSS) new retirement savings program for local workers has already drawn over 100 enrollees, with total investments now past the P1-million mark since its limited launch in 10 SSS branches in Metro Manila last May 2015.
Agnes San Jose, SSS Vice President for Benefits Administration, said a total of 163 members to date have invested P1.4 million in the SSS Personal Equity and Savings Option (PESO) Fund, a voluntary provident program enabling local workers to save for retirement in a tax-free facility with guaranteed earnings.
“Since regular SSS contributions only cover a maximum income of P16,000, members with the capacity to save more now have an additional option to augment their retirement savings thru the SSS PESO Fund program. It is a risk-free investment that offers better returns as compared with bank deposits,” San Jose explained.
SSS branches that began accepting PESO Fund applications last May 5, the date of the program’s soft launch, include SSS Diliman, Cubao, San Francisco del Monte, Pasig-Shaw, Mandaluyong, Taguig, Makati-Gil Puyat, Alabang, Legarda and Pasay-Roxas Boulevard. All SSS branches nationwide will implement the program by the end of September 2015, coinciding with the anniversary month of the SSS.
San Jose said nearly 40 percent of current PESO Fund enrollees belong to the 31-40 bracket, while the youngest 21-30 age group has the least number of savers at only 15 percent. About 24 percent were from the 41-50 age group, and the oldest eligible age bracket of 51-54 accounted for 23 percent.
“Results of our soft launch so far have been encouraging. It is heartening to see members even from the young age bracket already starting to prepare for their retirement, as well as for future contingencies, on a voluntary basis thru the SSS PESO Fund program,”she shared.
The SSS PESO Fund is open to local workers aged 54 and below who are registered as regular employees,  self-employed, voluntary members or household helpers. To qualify, a member must have at least six monthly contributions in the 12-month period right before the month of PESO Fund enrollment, and has no final SSS claim such as retirement or total disability.
“PESO Fund savings are safely invested in government securities, and the SSS provides tax-free and guaranteed earnings based on 5-year Treasury bond and one-year Treasury bill rates. The excess income that remains after the guaranteed earnings are credited to individual PESO Fund accounts every year will also be shared among the enrollees, so their savings further grow,” San Jose said.
SSS PESO Fund savings may be used for retirement, medical, and general purposes such as education and housing. The SSS Flexi-fund, a similar SSS program for overseas Filipino workers launched in 2001, currently has over 45,000 OFW enrollees and a total members’ equity of around P485 million.