Image Credit: Facebook

Dubai: Joan Orallo, an overseas Filipino worker here, borrowed 12,000 pesos (Dh820) back in 2012 from the Philippines' state-own Social Security System (SSS) while working for a private company in Manila. 

A few months later, she landed a job in Dubai and initially asked a relative to pay the monthly amortisations back home. But due to the cumbersome process — the need for a notarised authorisation letter, for example — she had neglected the  payments.

Six years later, her 12,000-peso loan had ballooned to 30,000 pesos (Dh2,052), including interest and penalties.

"I made good use of that money, so it's just right that I pay it back," said Orallo, 29, who works for a Dubai hotel as human resources coordinator. 

Read more:
Guide: How to get your payment reference number
Are you a regular SSS member?
Flexi Fund: For $3.73 per month, OFWs can start investing

The state pension fund offers not only retirement and maternity benefits, but also salary, housing, education and calamity loans to members. Its board recently offered a six-month amnesty for delinquent borrowers, which ends October 1, 2018.

Mary Ann Regatuna, 38, took out a 5,000-peso (about Dh342) loan from the fund in December 2004. In March 2005, she paid the first monthly installment of 318 pesos.

Two months later, in May 2005, she flew to the UAE, where she started working as a cashier for a retailer. She hadn't paid her loan since.

Joan Orallo, 29 Mary Ann Regatuna, 38
Loan amount: Php12,000 Loan amount: Php5,000 
Years of non-payment: 6 years Years of non-payment: 14 years
Penalties waived: Php8,424 Penalties waived: Php16,209

"I borrowed from SSS as a me-too kind of thing," said Regatuna, from Cagayan de Oro. "But since I left for the UAE, I didn't know how to pay it from here. I also became inactive with my SSS payments."

After a 13-year delinquency, Regatuna is saving 16,209 pesos in waived penalties, thanks to the on-going the Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) of the state fund. 

Orallo and Regatuna are the poster girls for the latest loan restructuring scheme offered by the fund. The blanket loan amnesty offer lasts until October 1, 2018.

"I'm thankful for this program, and the payment terms are much easier," said Orallo. "Parang nabunutan ako ng tinik (It's like a thorn was taken off my throat)," said Regatuna. 

Just a quick clarification: the six-month grace period, which kicked off on April 2, covers condonation of penalties for those who are delinquent in their loan payments.

Hundreds of UAE-based OFWs are applying for leniency each month, said Mark Roue Oliva, SSS Representative in Dubai.

Read more #Pinoy stories 

Oliva appeals to delinquent members to avoid waiting for the last minute before settling their loans.

Here's our guide on this amnesty for delinquent SSS borrowers.

(Disclaimer: This is just a general guide on the 2018 Loan Restructuring Program. For specific questions, please check with the SSS representative or branch near you.)

1. What is SSS Loan Restructuring Programme?

The SSS Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) is aimed to rope in delinquent member-borrowers to regularise their status with the pension fund by settling unpaid loans, without the added pain of high interest.

2. Why is the SSS offering this now?

It's not the first time the SSS has offered such restructing to delinquent members. The goal of this six-month leniency period is to help borrowers and allow them to regularise their status with the fund, explained Mark Roue N. Oliva, SSS representative in Dubai.

The are some who were not able to avail themselves of the LRP last time. And there are new members who were affected by calamities — like the Marawi and Zamboanga siege, the latest would be the victims of Mayon Volcano eruption and flooding in Manila and Central Luzon. 

These are some of the reasons considered by the SSS board in offering the latest amnesty for delinquencies.

3. How does LRP work? Can I pay in installments?

Yes. The LRP allows member-borrowers to settle their overdue loan principal and interest in full by installment — but with a restricted term — depending on the member's capacity to pay.

Both payment schemes shall waive loan penalties after a member has completed the restructured loan.

4. How long is a payment period?

It depends on the loan amount. If it's 18,000 pesos or below, you can pay it within one year. For a maximum of 72,000 pesos in restructured loan, SSS allows a repayment period of up to five years (60 months). 

5. How much is expected from this loan penalties condonation programme?

The 2018 LRP is expected to generate Php1.2 billion, while condoning some Php2.85 billion in penalties, according to SSS President and CEO Emmanuel F. Dooc. Around 250,000 members are expected to benefit from the LRP. 

6. How do I qualify? What loans are covered?

According to the SSS, "the program covers all member-borrowers who have past-due loans like the salary loan, emergency loan, (old) educational plan, study-now-pay-later plan, voc-tech loans, Y2K loans and investment incentive loan."

To qualify, the delinquent member-borrower should be residing or working as of date of the disaster in a calamity or disaster-stricken area as declared by the Naitonal Disaster Risk REduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

7. How fast can I get the LRP application done? 

According to Orallo, SSS has simplified the process. "I walked into their office at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. I filled up some forms. It was processed in less than one hour. The compulation and processing were all done online."

8. Is there an online loan restructuring form I need to fill up?

Yes. Download it here.

9. Where can I apply for this SSS loan restructuring? 

Check with the right staff at the SSS branch you visit. If you're in Dubai or the Northern Emirates, better send an email first via dubai@sss.gov.ph with your details (name, SSS number, loan amount) to know the requirements in applying for this LRP.

There's an SSS office within the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.

The SSS office in the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Map shows SSS headquarters in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines