When you live paycheck to paycheck, getting abruptly unemployed is one of the worst things that could ever happen. It is like suddenly getting deprived of your means for a living which covers the gamut of every household’s expenses such as the bills, food, and rent.
Fortunately, if you are not yet at the age of 60 and was previously or actively paying for your SSS contribution, then you are entitled for the so-called “SSS unemployment benefit,” courtesy of your SSS membership.
But this is the first benefit of its kind even for a well-established program such as the Social Security System and is thanks only to the recently enacted law, RA 11199, or the so-called Social Security Act of 2018.
The law was authored by Senator Richard Gordon and was signed by incumbent Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, last February 8, 2019.
What does Republic Act No. 11199 states?
According to this law, any individual who was let go from his employment—or forced to involuntary unemployment—and is an active paying member of SSS for at least three years is entitled to an SSS unemployed benefit that is equal to 50% of his average monthly wage for a maximum of 2 months.
For low-income earners e.g. minimum wage workers, this translates to at least Php10,000 per month or a minimum total of Php20,000 across the 2-month span, no less.
The goal of the SSS unemployment benefit is simply to help an SSS member in transitioning from being suddenly unemployed to finding his next employment, a process of which ideally will not last more than 2 months. Hence, why the benefit has a very short timeframe.
Citing the author of the bill-turned-law himself, Sen. Gordon claimed that it is the first time in the Philippines’ long history that we now have access to unemployment insurance. Unemployed SSS members can get up to Php10,000/month for as long as they are actively paying contributions under the maximum salary credit available.
While the Php10,000 per month amount is only sufficient to cover for important expenses such as the bills and food, the purpose of the benefit is indeed not to depend on it for the long-term. It is merely to aid the member in going through the rough times after having laid off from work in the shortest amount of time possible.
See also: How to verify your SSS number online
A Deeper Look into RA11199 for SSS Unemployment Beneficiaries
So, we have already given you a few facts about the Social Security Act of 2018. But let us take a look further into the other pertinent details that arise from the said law:
1. No, it is not a loan
Any pre-existing members of SSS might find the addition of the “SSS unemployment benefit” to fall outside of their membership and contribution’s typical benefits. They include sickness, disability, maternity, retirement, death, and funeral benefits.
In reality, thanks to the recently established law that is RA11199, there are now seven benefits that come from being an active and long-term paying member of SSS, including unemployment as the obvious addition.
So, yes, the SSS unemployment benefits should be taken literally as what its name suggests and not be mistaken for a “loan” seemingly guised with a subtle label.
Therefore, any claimant can rest easy that the money they have gotten during their unemployment from their contribution is truly theirs and not something they would be obligated to return with accrued interest.
2. SSS Unemployment Benefits are only good for 2 months
Even if you are one of the longest paying and active members of SSS, the “unemployment benefit” will strictly lasts for up to 2 months max. To reiterate, this “benefit” does not hold the same magnitude as a “retirement benefit” and thus must not be depended upon for long-term. It merely is there to cushion the difficulty which a laid off employee must go through after losing job.
Furthermore, while the unemployment benefit by SSS is legible to be claimed by any qualified members, it is worth noting that there is a cooling period for the validity of the benefit.
A valid SSS member can only avail of the unemployment benefit after every 3 years if the person falls into another involuntary unemployment after that span of time.
3. You must be unemployed to avail the benefit
The perk of the law will not be named SSS unemployment benefit if every qualified member can avail of it based solely out of whim and not during an actual loss of job.
True to its label, the “unemployment benefit” is intended only to valid members who are transitioning from one job to the next resulting from a sudden job loss.
4. The monthly cash support should be partially commensurate to 50% of the member’s average monthly salary
Although the minimum amount of cash which the benefit provides should not be lower than Php10,000, it does not mean that all qualified claimants get the same amount each month for 2 months resulting from it.
The amount actually depends on the member’s average monthly salary based on their last employment, in addition to other factors that are significant in the computation.
You may contact SSS’ 24/7 customer service hotline for any questions. If you are living abroad, here’s a list of international SSS branches and their contact numbers.
5. The benefit draws from SSS recent contribution hike
In order to sustain this level of support among its “needy” members, SSS has to draw the money from somewhere to make it feasible. In this case, the unemployment benefits come from SSS’ pool of money based on its recently increased contribution demand from its existing members.
In fact, it is RA 11199 that is the same law that caused the hike to begin with, albeit at a reasonable 1% increase from 11% to 12% for 2019. However, as extracted from the same law, there are still some expected future hikes of 1% after every 2 years beginning 2019.
Meaning, from 12% in 2019, it will subsequently be predicted to become 13% in 2021; 14% in 2023; and 15% in 2025. This “1 percent” may be small enough for an increase, but when you factor in all of the existing and paying members of SSS, then you get a considerable amount of funds that could sustain the dictates of the law for the benefit of each qualifying member.
The Positive Impacts of the SSS Unemployment Benefit
Finding an employment is not always easy, especially not for everybody. When you factor in “luck” as an essential aspect of getting a job, let alone when transitioning to a new one after getting laid off, then it clearly depicts a picture where job-hunting is challenging and not always guaranteed.
Senator Richard Gordon knows this for a fact and thus sought to alleviate the problem by giving deserving SSS members—meaning, actively paying members—an early access to one benefit they could be getting based on their own SSS contributions.
This perk is significantly better than having to wait for a ripe age of 60 to get a piece of one’s sacrifices as a long-term and active, paying member when younger.
When you think about it realistically, 2 months of financial support during unemployment is just a tiny advantage. But, as they say, “something is better than nothing, right?”
Ultimately, what this new SSS unemployment insurance implies is that, while it is not assured that employment will take its place for the recently laid off member in the next 2 months, it does soften the blow of having lost a means of income.
But trying to be optimistic during the situation, the situation could also entail a shift to a better thing such as finding a better job than what you had previously, among other things.