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The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected the private sector, causing some businesses to dismiss workers or shut down operations permanently. The good news is, the government is stepping in to provide aid for the displaced employees. The state-run social insurance agency Social Security System, for one, is offering unemployment benefits ranging from P11,000 to P20,000 per worker, depending on an individual’s compensation.
Here’s everything you need to know about the program:
What’s the Program and What is It for?
The SSS Unemployment Benefit is enshrined in the Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018. The government projects that some 30,000 to 60,000 workers will lose their jobs, either from layoffs or business closures because of the Covid-19 pandemic. To manage this economic crisis, SSS offers the cash assistance program.
Earlier, some aviation companies, including the Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific, have made a sweeping move to lay off some workers. Some manufacturing businesses such as Honda likewise closed down its plant in Laguna, partly due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
If you’re from the tourism, manufacturing, or any industry hit by the pandemic, you can turn to the SSS unemployment benefits. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III himself expects workers in the sectors mentioned to apply for SSS cash assistance.
You can get the unemployment benefits if you:
- Are not over 60 years of age during the involuntary separation (for mineworkers, the age limit is 50 years old, while 55 on racehorse jockeys);
- Have been displaced because of retrenchment, closure or cessation of operation, or redundancy, among many others;
- Have paid the required minimum number of monthly contributions for three years
However, if a person who was laid off committed serious misconduct, willful disobedience to lawful orders, or gross and habitual neglect of duties, they will not be eligible for the unemployment benefits, in compliance with the Labor Code. The same is true for those who are involved in fraud or willful breach of trust or loss of confidence, the commission of a crime, or analogous cases like abandonment, gross inefficiency, disloyalty, conflict of interest or dishonesty.
What Do You Need to Apply?
First off, you need to have a certification from DOLE showing the nature and date of the involuntary separation. You must also submit either the notice of termination from your employer or the affidavit of termination of employment. Of course, IDs are a requirement as well. Some of the government IDs you can present are:
- Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) Card
- Driver’s License
- Alien Certificate of Registration
- Voter’s ID Card
- Postal Identity Card
- Seafarer’s Identification & Record Book
- National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance
- Firearm Registration
- License to Own and Possess Firearms
- Permit to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence
If you don’t have any of these, submit any two ID cards with your signature. By the end of April, SSS will offer online application services so you don’t need to go to their offices and do everything over the counter.
How Much Can You Get as Benefits?
Once your application has been approved, you will get monthly cash payments equivalent to 50 percent of your average monthly salary credit for a maximum of two months. The average eligible members get, however, is approximately P11,000. The maximum cash benefit is at around P20,000.
SSS can hand over P1.2 billion to cover as many as 60,000 premium-paying members. This is the maximum number of workers estimated to be laid off. Computed against the highest possible amount of cash benefit, the amount would total P1.2 billion.
How Is This Different from Loans?
Take note that the unemployment benefit is not a loan. Therefore, you don’t need to pay SSS back after securing your cash. The agency, however, offers loan assistance in the form of calamity loans and salary loans. In the former, you can get up to 20,000, with an interest rate of 10 percent per annum. The monthly amortization begins in the second month after the date of the loan and will last for 24 months. Pag-IBIG likewise has its calamity loan fund, too.
Meanwhile, in salary loans, a one-month salary loan is equivalent to the average of your latest posted 12 monthly salary credits (MSCs). It’s also payable within 24 months.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll not only on public health but also on the country’s economic growth. Fortunately, you can tap into government assistance programs to survive this crisis. Explore your options. Hang in there.