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The Social Security System (SSS)  said it released P178 million in 2019 under its unemployment benefit or involuntary separation insurance program, which is one of the key features of Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 which took effect on March 5, 2019.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said the pension fund received  15,151 unemployment benefit applications in 2019 of which 14,895 were approved and translated to P178 million of benefit releases.

The unemployment benefit program is the newest among the benefits being offered by SSS which allows qualified SSS members who are involuntarily separated from work to claim for a cash allowance equivalent to two times his average monthly salary credit.

Since its implementation in August 2019,  the bulk of the unemployment benefit applications were received in October with 4,596 approved applications which corresponded to P54.61 million released to qualified members.

“We are hoping that with the newest benefit, we will help more SSS members during times of unexpected job loss. The program was patterned after the unemployment benefit program in European countries. Our primary objective is to assist them while they are looking for another job after they were involuntarily separated from their work. They may also use the benefit for their retooling and capacity building to find a better job or work that will suit their skills, ” Ignacio said.

To qualify for unemployment benefit, members must not be more than 60 years old at the time of involuntary separation, except for underground and surface mineworkers, and racehorse jockeys whose age should not be more than 50 and 55 years old, respectively.

"The unemployment benefit can be claimed only once every three years starting from the date of involuntary separation from work. If two or more compensable contingencies occurred within the same period, SSS will only pay the highest benefit from the recorded contingencies.   They are given one year from the time of their separation to file for their benefit claim,” Ignacio added.

Member-applicant must have paid at least 36 monthly contributions, wherein 12 months of those should have been paid within the 18-month period prior to the month of involuntary separation.

Ignacio reminded unemployment benefit applicants that to qualify for the benefit,   the reason for separation should be any of the following: installation of labor-saving devices; redundancy; retrenchment; closure or cessation of operation; and disease or illness %u200Bof the employee whose continued employment is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his or her co-employee's health.

Further, separation from employment because of employee’s serious misconduct, willful disobedience to lawful orders, gross and habitual neglect of duties, fraud or willful breach of trust, commission of a crime or offense and analogous cases like abandonment, gross inefficiency, and disloyalty/conflict of interest will not qualify the employee to receive the unemployment benefit.

Applicants are required to submit a DOLE-issued certification establishing the nature and date of involuntary separation as well as the Notice of Termination from the employer or the Affidavit of Termination of Employment.

Aside from the government-issued documents, applicants should present an original and photocopy of one primary ID card or document or in the absence of which, any two ID cards or documents, both with signature and at least one with photo at any SSS local branch or foreign office.

As of now, the benefit will be credited to the savings account  %u200Bunder the member's UMID card enrolled as ATM or Union Bank of Philippines (UBP) Quick Card.  If the member has no UMID card enrolled as ATM or UBP Quick Card, the member will be instructed by the branch to open or avail of the UBP Quick Card to have their benefit automatically credited to their savings account and can be availed thru UBP Kiosks in selected SSS branches nationwide.

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