Mark Roue Oliva, SSS Representative in Dubai.
Mark Roue Oliva, SSS Representative in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: It is now mandatory for all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to make monthly contributions for their social security that will entitle them to a pension fund and other benefits under a new law.

President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed into law Senate Bill 1753, or the “Social Security Act of 2018”, which widens the scope of the Social Security System (SSS), extending it to all OFWs around the world. The actual date of implementation, however, and its specific details have yet to be released through the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Currently, only around 500,000 OFWs are covered by SSS since contributions are voluntary. With the new law, SSS membership of OFWs could increase to 2.5 million.

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Mark Roue Oliva, the SSS Representative in Dubai, said the government-run provident fund will benefit both land-based and sea-based OFWs, including those in the UAE.

“Because contributions were voluntary for OFWs in the old law, most OFWs, majority of whom are from the Middle East, forget to contribute. So once they retire, they are not qualified to get pension from SSS,” Oliva told Gulf News.

In Dubai, more than 7,000 Filipinos paid their premium in January 2018.

But the average contributors for 2018 for Dubai and the northern emirates was just 4,800.

An est imated 600,000 to nearly one million Filipinos work in the UAE.

7,000

Number of Filipinos who paid their Social Security premium in January 2018.

All SSS benefits enjoyed by members in the Philippines such as lifetime pension and other benefits such as salary loan, sickness, retirement, maternity, disability, death, funeral are also being received by OFWs in the UAE, he explained.

'It is better to be covered than have nothing'

“I would like to emphasise Senator Richard Gordon’s earlier statement that the bill [now law] does not promise an abundance of wealth but to secure people in case they would encounter unwanted situations in their lives. It is better to be covered than have nothing,” Oliva said.

“For maternity benefits for example, I process at least 20 claims in a month. I have also processed retirement claims. The processing takes roughly one month and the cheque is deposited directly to the claimant’s bank account,” he added.

The benefits vary depending on the monthly contributions. For those paying the maximum amount based on the old law of 1,750 pesos (Dh126) per month, for example, they receive a maximum maternity benefit for caesarean amounting to 41,600 pesos. For normal delivery, the benefit is 32,000 pesos.

Those with minimum contribution of 550 pesos get 10,000 pesos as benefit for normal delivery, and 13,000 pesos for caesarean.

“These contributions and benefits may change based on the new IRR. But the main message to our compatriots is not to treat SSS as an expense but an investment. Every peso they contribute will be given back to them or their beneficiaries through a pension or lump sum. This is one of the ways that they can invest in themselves and in their future.”

HOW TO PAY SSS:

  1. SSS members who want to pay should first get a Payment Reference Number by visiting the nearest SSS branch or emailing to PRNHelpline@sss.gov.ph.
  2. Payment can be made at any of the SSS-linked remittance centres namely Orient Exchange, UAE Exchange, Al Ghurair Exchange, or Al Rostamani. They can pay monthly, quarterly, yearly, or a maximum of five years.
  3. The new contribution per OFW will depend on the provisions of the new law. But officials advise OFWs to ideally make the maximum contribution to get the maximum benefit.