The Social Security System (SSS) marked another banner year in 2013, highlighted by the sustained growth both in net income and assets. Net income for 2013 was P38 billion, registering an increase of six percent from P36 billion in 2012, while total assets likewise grew by six percent to P385 billion.
May Catherine Ciriaco, SSS Vice President for Management Services and Planning, credited the increase to improved financial operations as reflected by the 9.3 percent jump in contribution collections that for the first time surpassed the century mark at P103 billion.
“Investment and other income stood at P34.4 billion, up by 1.5 percent from P33.9 billion in 2012 despite the low interest rate scenario and volatility in the financial market. SSS’ 8.7 percent return on investment continues to outperform market benchmarks such as the four percent 10-year T-bond rate and 0.7 percent 364-day Treasury bill rate,” Ciriaco noted.
SSS benefit releases totaled P91 billion, with over half of which or P49 billion paid for retirement claims, and about one-third or P30 billion disbursed to survivors of deceased members. Payments for maternity, which totaled P4 billion, and retirement posted the highest rates of increase among SSS benefit types last year at 12.6 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively.
The contribution-benefit surplus — or the positive difference between collected contributions and disbursed benefits — grew by 16 percent to P12 billion. The 2013 surplus marked a five-year high, and was six times more than the P2 billion surplus in 2010.
Ciriaco said prudent management of operating and capital expenditures led to improved SSS operating efficiency despite higher transaction levels, greater number of members served and increased SSS presence locally and overseas.
“SSS operating expenses in 2013 reached only P7.6 billion, which was relatively flat compared to 2012. More significantly, spending for SSS operations in 2013 represented only 57 percent of our allowed charter limit, even as we were able to reach out to more members and handle a heavier transaction load last year,” she added.
Transaction volume swelled by 6.4 percent to 33.7 million last year from 31.7 million in 2012, with contribution-related transactions, accounting for half of the 2013 total. The growth in SSS transactions is in step with the 4.3 percent growth in SSS coverage to 30.7 million individual members, while the number of registered employers totaled about 912,000 by end-2013.
To provide members greater convenience and easier access to SSS services and facilities, the agency last year opened a total of 21 local offices nationwide – namely three new branches at Panabo (Davao), Guadalupe (Makati City) and Congressional (Quezon City), as well as 18 rent-free SSS Service Offices located in 17 malls and one inside the Muntinlupa City Hall.
“To reach out to overseas Filipino workers, SSS opened two foreign representative offices for Filipino communities in Macau and Bahrain that have a high concentration of migrant workers. We also deployed more roving SSS officers to bolster our coverage activities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia and encourage OFWs to register or re-activate their SSS membership,” Ciriaco explained.
Members also benefited from the six-day work week implemented by all SSS branches from October to December 2013, as well as the special Saturday schedule of all SSS offices in June 2013 to accommodate household employers and domestic workers complying with the Batas Kasambahay enacted last year.
In 2013, the agency accredited 12 microfinance institutions, cooperatives and organized groups as servicing or collecting partner agents so that their members can transact with SSS via authorized representatives within their own organizations. SSS also signed last year coverage agreements with the Insurance Commission and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers – Quezon City Chapter.
“Implementation of the AlkanSSSya Program, which was introduced in 2012 as a major driver for the social protection of informal sector workers, picked up its pace last year with nearly 600 groups representing more than 53,000 members nationwide joining the program in 2013 alone,” Ciriaco said. “SSS plans to further expand the AlkanSSSya’s reach this year to extend social protection to more workers in all corners of the country.”
There were government offices also joining the AlkanSSSya Program in 2013 to provide SSS coverage for their job order (JO) and contractual workers who are not covered by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), with Brgy. Pulang Lupa Dos in Las Piñas City as the first participating local government unit. SSS further strengthened its coverage campaign for this sector by signing agreements in 2014 with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“We continue to seek ways to make transacting with SSS easier, faster and more convenient for members. As part of this thrust, we installed E-Centers where members can use or access SSS’ desktop computers, telephones, information kiosks and other self-service facilities to help cut down the time spent transacting at our branches,” Ciriaco said.
Members can also check their records and transact without going to the nearest branch through the SSS Website (www.sss.gov.ph) as an alternative and more convenient option. The number of SSS Web accounts rose to 2.9 million as of end-2013, with new enrollees last year totaling 804,492 members and 91,056 employers. About two million SSS website transactions were also recorded last year, from over a half a million in 2012.
The SSS also met with stakeholders through communication forums to provide updates on SSS plans and programs, as well as gather direct feedback to help identify and address barriers to active SSS membership. SSS briefings in 2013 were held at overseas Filipino communities in Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oslo, Berlin, Hamburg, Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, USA and Canada, while local regional visits were also conducted in Zamboanga, Tacloban, Butuan and Palawan.