SSS to accept online filing of maternity benefit claims starting May 31

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2021   •   480

MANILA, Philippines — The Social Security System (SSS) on Friday said it will soon accept online Maternity Benefit Applications (MBA) and Maternity Benefit Reimbursement Applications (MBRA).

In a statement, SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the online filing of MBA and MBRA through the My.SSS portal on the SSS website would start on May 31.

Ignacio said this is in line with SSS’ scheduled mandatory implementation, which will take effect on September 1.

“As part of our digitalization initiatives, the SSS has now allowed maternity benefit applications to be filed online, along with sickness benefit reimbursement, unemployment, retirement, and funeral. We recognize the current situation of our female members who are high-risk individuals to COVID-19 infection. Their health and safety remain our top priority,” Ignacio said.

The dropbox or over-the-counter filing will still be allowed at the SSS Branch Office/Foreign Representative Office (FRO)/Medical Evaluation Center (MEC) until August 31.

Maternity benefit covers all female self-employed, voluntary, overseas Filipino workers (OFW), non-working spouse members, and female members who are separated from employment and have not yet received any advance payment of maternity benefit from their previous employers. Meanwhile, maternity benefit reimbursement covers all employers, including household employers.

Online filing through the member or employer’s My.SSS account applies to all initial or new claims as well as cases for adjustments, including the following instances:

  • Member is qualified as a solo parent;
  • With correction on the type of delivery from normal to caesarian delivery or from miscarriage to ectopic pregnancy with operation;
  • SSS computation is higher than the employer’s computation;
  • Additional posted contributions will increase the benefit amount;
  • Correction of the approved number of compensable days from 60 (normal delivery) or 78 (caesarian section delivery) to 105 days; and
  • Allocation of leave credits not used due to separation from employment of child’s father or qualified alternate caregiver.

“Required supporting documents corresponding to the type of claim need to be scanned and uploaded by the filer for review by SSS,” the agency said.

For MBRAs, the receipt of the advance payment by an employer must be confirmed/ certified by the female employed member within seven working days from the date of the e-mail notification sent by SSS.

“The member may access the confirmation/ certification facility through the link in the SSS e-mail or the account in My.SSS,” the agency said.

If the member fails to confirm/certify within the prescribed period, the claim will be rejected and the employer will have to re-submit or re-file another MBRA as a new transaction.

For cases wherein the member is separated from employment, absence without leave (AWOL), or deceased before filing the claim, confirmation/certification is no longer required.

The maternity benefit offered by SSS is a cash allowance granted to qualified female members.

To qualify, there must be at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period immediately preceding the semester of the childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination of pregnancy (ETP).

For employed members, they should notify their employers upon learning about their pregnancy. For self-employed, voluntary, and OFW members, they may submit the maternity notification via the My.SSS portal on the SSS website or through the SSS Mobile App.

Members are reminded that only contributions paid prior to the semester of childbirth, miscarriage, or ETP will be considered in determining eligibility for maternity benefits.

The 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law implemented on March 11, 2019 increases the number of compensable days of maternity leave, from the initial 60 days for normal delivery, or 78 days for caesarian section delivery, to 105 days for live childbirth—regardless of the type of delivery. There is also an additional 15 days paid leave if the female worker qualifies as a solo parent.

In case of miscarriage, the entitlement is 60 days of paid maternity leave. The law also granted further consideration to our women by extending maternity leave to every instance of pregnancy, and miscarriage, regardless of frequency, from the previous limit of the first four deliveries or miscarriages.

“We encourage our members and employers to register at My.SSS and enroll their bank accounts in the Disbursement Account Enrollment Module (DAEM) to receive their benefits at the soonest possible time,” Ignacio said.

“The online service offerings are part of our brand campaign through ExpreSSS for faster, easier, and simpler means of transacting with SSS,” she added.

DOLE reiterates rights, protection of delivery riders under Labor law

Marje Pelayo   •   July 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reiterates the rights of riders in food delivery and courier activities under the Labor Code of the Philippines or their contract with the digital platform company, depending on the existence of an employer-employee relationship.

In an advisory, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said all delivery riders who are considered employees of a digital platform company are entitled to the minimum benefits under the Labor Code.

Meanwhile, those who work as independent contractors or freelancers shall be governed by their respective contracts or agreements with the digital platform company.

DOLE issued the advisory in order to set the standards in determining work relationships between food delivery companies and their respective riders.

This employer-employee relationship between the delivery rider and the digital platform company, Bello said, may be determined in consideration of the flexibility of work which includes working time, control through technology, and use of the equipment and other inputs.

The advisory stated that all delivery riders who are deemed employees of the digital platform company shall enjoy the minimum standards and benefits which include: minimum wage, holiday pay, premium pay, overtime pay, night shift differential, service incentive leave, thirteenth-month pay, separation pay, and retirement pay.

They are also entitled to get occupational safety and health (OSH) standards, including SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG, and other benefits under existing laws.

Riders shall also enjoy the right to security of tenure, self-organization, and collective bargaining.

Meanwhile, riders who are considered independent contractors or freelancers shall be governed by their respective contracts or agreements with the digital platform company.

The contract or agreement shall stipulate the following provisions, including but not limited to:

  • the payment of fair and equitable compensation, which shall not be lower than the prevailing minimum wage rates and facilitation of registration;
  • coverage under SSS, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG;
  • compliance with applicable OSH standards;
  • attendance to regular training and seminars on road and traffic rules and road safety. This shall be arranged by the digital platform company in coordination with relevant government agencies;
  • arrangement with concerned local government units and/or merchants in setting up designated waiting areas for delivery riders

The Labor Advisory further states that any complaint or grievance of delivery riders or digital platform company shall be settled and resolved through conciliation, mediation, inspection, or arbitration, whichever is applicable, under existing rules and regulations.

Senate OKs bill granting presidential powers to defer SSS contribution hike

Robie de Guzman   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to grant the President limited power to postpone increases in the Social Security System (SSS) contributions for six months in times of national emergency or calamity.

The Senate Bill 2027 was passed on Monday after receiving 21 affirmative votes from senators. It was sponsored by Sen. Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.

Under the measure, the President, upon the recommendation of the Social Security Commission, may suspend the scheduled increase for six months and may extend the deferment for another six months for a total of one year.

The bill seeks to amend section 4(a)(9) of Republic Act No. 11199, also known as the “Social Security Act of 2018,” which allows the Social Security Commission, the governing body of the SSS, to implement the contribution rate increase.

Under Sec. 4(a)(9) of Republic Act (RA) No. 11199, a one percent contribution increase will be imposed on SSS members every two years starting 2019 until 2025.

This means that from a contribution rate of 12 percent in 2020, contribution rate will increase to 13 percent beginning January 2021.

Gordon, also one of the bill’s authors, pointed out that having the mandated contribution increase under RA 11199 is not timely because of the continuing hardship brought about by COVID-19 pandemic to the people and to the business sector.

“This bill seeks to provide the people with flexibility to adapt to the pandemic by empowering the President to temporarily suspend or defend the increase in contributions scheduled under RA 11199, so that the people will be able to have financial breathing space to be able to adjust to the on-going National Emergency,” Gordon said in a statement.

The bill also states that other scheduled contribution rates and the monthly salary credits shall continue to be valid and effective, provided that no changes in the implementing rules or administrative procedures would be introduced by the Social Security Commission that will defer the disbursement of benefits.

Senate committee approves bill giving Duterte authority to defer SSS hike

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises on Tuesday (January 26) approved a Senate bill that will grant President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to defer or suspend the Social Security System (SSS) contribution rate hike.

Under Senate Bill 1970, the Chief Executive can suspend the implementation of the SSS contribution hike during a national emergency or state of calamity for six months.

While the SSS administration acknowledges the bill, it reiterated the need to implement the contribution hike this year.

SSS President and CEO Andrea Ignacio said delaying the implementation might have a negative effect on the government’s financial situation.

“Delaying this implementation of any reform will worsen an already dire financial institution. The new contribution schedule in the SSS Charter is a long overdue reform. SSS has increased its pension benefit 25 times while it adjusted contribution rate only 8 times to date,” he said.

He added that SSS would not have enough budget to pay their pensioners for the next 30 to 40 years. However, Ignacio said they will not force unemployed individuals to pay.

“We acknowledge that the contribution hike will add a little burden to our employers and workers but, at the same time, the fact is we are asking for this hike only to those who are able to do so. The employers who are operating and the workers that still have their jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Joel Villanueva and committee chairperson Senator Richard Gordon said the contribution hike will further burden the citizens, especially during the pandemic.

Iyong may trabaho at may negosyo, sa halip na hindi na natin sila i-burden out, bibigyan pa natin sila ng additional burden na isipin (Those with jobs and business, instead of easing their burden, we are giving them an additional burden they have to think about), Villanueva said.

Lalala ang situation, baka ang mangyari masyadong hirap na. Talagang dapat tingnan natin kung anong gagawin natin to alleviate their pain (The situation might worsen. We should look for ways on how to alleviate their pain),” said Gordon.

Under Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 the contribution hike for this year will increase by 13% and 15% by 2025. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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