Friday, September 18, 2015

SSS, GSIS, Pag-Ibig Fund inform Bicol members of expanded benefits
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 17 (PNA) – The Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund have announced the recently upgraded and expanded benefits that can be availed by their respective members in Bicol.

In a statement on Thursday, the SSS regional branch based in Naga City said its members in the region could now avail of sickness assistance, a new benefit which is a daily cash allowance paid for the number of days a member is unable to work due to sickness or injury.

SSS vice-president for Bicol Ma. Teresa Ignacio, in the statement, said a member can qualify for the sickness benefit when he or she is unable to work due to sickness or injury and confined either in a hospital or at home for at least four days.

Members who want to avail of the benefit should also have at least three months of contributions within the 12-month period immediately before the semester of sickness has been paid and all company sick leaves with pay for the current year has been exhausted, she said.

The amount of a member’s sickness benefit per day is equivalent to 90 percent of his/her average daily salary credit, according to Ignacio.

This sickness benefit, she said, is apart from the usual retirement, maternity, disability, death, funeral and employees compensation assistance that members enjoy.

As part of the benefit expansion program, Ignacio said, the funeral entitlement has been increased from Php 20,000 to the variable amount reaching as much as Php 40,000 following the approval by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III of the benefit enhancement.

The increase will depend on the member’s number of contributions and average monthly salary credit (AMSC).

SSS also has a program offering an option to sell shares of stocks under stocks investment loan while the release of educational assistance loan is now being done at their branch offices in the provinces unlike before that it is mailed to recipients, she announced.

She also encouraged employers to enroll their “Kasambahay” to SSS, citing a very minimal compliance among employers in Bicol of the “Batas Kasambahay”.

SSS will also implement Personal Equity Savings Options (PESO) on the last quarter of this year for its members, Ignacio said, adding that the agency has online portals that allow members to access to their contributions and membership records, make online transactions, set appointments with their servicing branch and request copies of their records.

On the part of the GSIS, its regional office, also based in Naga City, said in a separate statement that its Enhanced Conso-Loan Plus Program offered since July this year can be availed of by members.

Members can borrow a 12-month salary loan when he/she is at least 15 years in service with paid premiums while those with not less than 25 years of service will be eligible for a 14-month loan, it said.

The new or enhanced Conso-Loan program of the GSIS features an extended maximum term from six years to 10 years for members with at least 10 years of period with paid premiums (PPP) and increased maximum loanable amount for members with at least 15 years of PPP.

Availing of the Enhanced Conso-Loan Plus Program will result in the consolidation of the following salary loans: Salary Loan, Restructured Salary Loan, Enhanced Salary Loan, Emergency Loan Assistance and Summer One-Month Salary.

The GSIS is also working on the increase in the funeral benefit of a deceased member from PHP20,000 to PHP30,000 as well as in the designation of survivor if the member is single.

These moves are now in Congress under deliberation, it said.

For the HDMF, its regional office here has urged members to join the Modified Pag-IBIG II (MP2) Program, a savings scheme designed to provide members with another savings option similar to time deposit scheme that will grant them with higher yield for a period of five to 10 years.

The program has been around since 2012 but very few have availed of it, it said.

The HDMF said those who wish to join the MP2 may contribute Php500 per month, aside from the mandatory deductions and the interest rate is 4.68 percent per annum and is tax free.

In its socialized housing program, the agency said, interest rates have also been reduced to only 4.5 percent while on other housing loans interest rates have been lowered from 6.985 to 6.5 percent.

It also clarified that those who already availed of the housing loan can again apply for another housing loan provided that it will not exceed Php6 million.

Previously housing loan can be availed one at a time and cannot have another one unless the previous one has been paid.

Acquisition and installation of solar power will be allowed in Pag-IBIG Fund and it is just waiting for the guidelines for its implementation, it added. (PNA) RMA/BNB/FGS/DOC/CBD/