The Social Security System (SSS) released a total of P3.88 billion and P1.65 billion for maternity and sickness claims, respectively, for the first nine months of 2015, with corresponding double-digit growths of 21 percent and 18 percent in benefit payments due to the increase in number of availing members.

SSS Vice President for Benefits Administration Agnes E. San Jose said the state-run agency granted maternity benefits for 191,064 members within January to September this year, higher by 19 percent from 160,287 members for the same nine-month period last year.

“A total of 285,705 members also received SSS payments for sickness claims, up by 10 percent from 260,230 availments last year. Of these, 19,633 members were entitled to additional sickness benefits under the EC (Employees’ Compensation) program since their illnesses were work-related,” she said.

The SSS maternity benefit is a cash allowance of up to P32,000 covering 60 days for normal deliveries and up to P41,600 covering 78 days for Caesarian deliveries. Members can apply for maternity benefits for their first four pregnancies, including miscarriages.

SSS sickness benefits are available under the Social Security (SS) Program, which is the regular program offered by SSS, and the Employees’ Compensation Program, which provides additional benefits if the illness is caused by the member’s employment.

Members must have missed at least four work days due to an illness and employees must have used up all their sick leave credits in a given year to qualify for sickness benefits. The maximum amount of sickness benefits, which cover 240 days, is P115,200 and P48,000 under the SS and EC, respectively.

“Members must also have least three posted SSS contributions within the 12-month period prior to the semester of pregnancy or illness to be eligible for sickness and maternity benefits. We urge members to maintain an active SSS membership so that they qualify for benefits when the need arises,” San Jose said.

As provided by the Social Security Law, employers are required to pay in advance their workers’ sickness and maternity benefits, and then apply for the corresponding reimbursement from the SSS. The SSS would release the benefit reimbursement directly to the bank account designated by the employer.

Members whose employers refuse to advance the payment for their SSS sickness and maternity benefits may go to the nearest SSS branch and file a complaint. Complainants need to submit proof of employment, such as their company IDs, and the SSS sickness notification duly received by their employer.

Upon receiving the complaint, the SSS would first investigate, and if warranted, would then compel the employer to comply with the advancement of sickness and maternity benefit. If the employer still refuses to pay the employee, the institution would then refer the complaint to SSS lawyers for proper action.

Those who violate the provisions of the Social Security Law may be sentenced to a jail term of six years and one day up to twelve years, and pay fines ranging from P5,000 to P20,000, depending on the discretion of the court.

“Members are also reminded to carefully read any document before affixing their signatures. We have received reports about employees being asked to sign a document stating that their employers have already paid their SSS benefit, when in fact not a single centavo has been given to them,” San Jose said.

Employees accounted for P3.17 billion, or 82 percent, of the total SSS disbursements for maternity benefits released for the first three quarters of this year, as well as P1.42 billion, or 86 percent, of all sickness benefits paid during the same period.

Apart from short-term claims for sickness and maternity, the SSS also provides benefits for contingencies such as retirement, disability and death that includes payment of monthly pensions. The agency has over two million pensioners at present.(SSS Media Affairs Department)