Prescription for filing sickness notices raised

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The Social Security System has increased to 35 days the prescriptive period for filing sickness notifications by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for their illnesses not requiring hospitalization because of their limited time and accessibility to SSS offices.

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Before, the filing of sickness notifications was within a five-day calendar period only.

Dr. Brenda Viola, SSS officer-in-charge of the Medical Services Division, said the change was made to ensure that the OFWs would have enough time to process their claims for sickness.

“For sickness notifications filed past the prescriptive period, the days of confinement to be covered by SSS are deemed to start only on the fifth day immediately prior to the date of filing. Hence, the longer prescriptive period helps OFWs avoid lower benefit amounts or rejected claims due to late notifications, as compared with the previous five-day leeway,” she explained.

The SSS sickness benefit is a daily cash allowance granted to qualified members confined at home or in the hospital for at least four days, including the period for recovery, because of an illness or injury.

The number of compensable days is up to 120 per calendar year that can be extended for another 120 days the following year on account of the same medical condition.

Illnesses or injuries that persist for over 240 days can qualify for SSS disability benefits.

Under the previous SSS policy, if a sick OFW member is confined at home, for example, from June 1 to 15 and his sickness notification was filed only on June 12, or one week after the five-day prescriptive period, the computed sickness benefit would merely cover nine days from June 7 to 15.

Viola pointed out that by raising the number of days in the filing of notification to 35 days from 5, the OFW will be compensated for the entire 15 days that he was sick given the same date of filing for the sickness notification and assuming the benefit claim was filed on time.

Apart from sickness notifications, the SSS also observes prescriptive periods for filing sickness benefit claims.

For voluntary members such as OFWs, this prescriptive period is one year from start of illness for home confinement, and one year from date of discharge for illnesses with hospital confinement.

NELSON S. BADILLA

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