SSS contributions fall, miss 2020 goal

The coronavirus pandemic has pulled down contributions to state-run Social Security System (SSS) last year, according to the Department of Finance (DoF).

In a statement on Friday, the DoF cited the state-run pension fund’s report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd in saying that these contributions hit P204.75 billion in 2020, a 7.1-percent reduction from the P220.38 billion collected a year earlier.

The contributions also fell short of the SSS’s P246.83-billion target by 17 percent.

“The drop was the result of 1.5 million members unable to pay their contributions because of Covid-related job losses,” the pension fund explained.

Benefits paid also shrank by 2 percent year-on-year to P192.84 billion from P196.76 billion.

Last year, the SSS released P31.69 billion in calamity loans for 2.12 million member-borrowers and P1.71 billion in unemployment insurance benefits (UIB) for 136,000 claimants.

“UIB claims rose nearly 10 times from [the] 15,000 claimants availing of P178 million in benefits in 2019 to 136,000 beneficiaries claiming a combined P1.71 billion in 2020,” it said.

The fund also released P30.47 billion in salary loans for 1.28 million members and extended pension loans worth P3.4 billion to 74,799 borrowers.

Pension loan releases last year were up 34.6 percent from P2.52 billion in 2019, which the SSS credited to its enhanced guidelines.

These raised the maximum loanable amount under this program from P32,000 to P200,000 starting in October 2019.

Loan releases to members rose by more than half from P40.59 billion in 2019 to P62.35 billion in 2020, but member loan collections from January to November slid by 17.6 percent to P32.44 billion amid the implemented moratoriums and the pandemic-induced recession.

The pension fund’s operating expenses dived by 17.7 percent year-on-year to P8.18 billion from P9.93 billion.

Its investment income declined to P32.47 billion from P40.97 billion in 2019.