SSS assets expand to P415B

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The Social Security System (SSS) said its total assets expanded over the first five months of 2014 to an estimated P415 billion from P385 billion at the end of December 2013.

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May Catherine Ciriaco, SSS vice president for Management Services and Planning, said 97 percent of SSS assets are in the form of investments. The newly released figures represent 6 percent growth in the agency’s investment level, she added.

“The growth in assets augurs well for SSS’ drive to improve the system’s long-term viability and regain a perpetual fund life of 70 years, in line with international social security standards,” Ciriaco said.

Based on results of the latest SSS actuarial valuation, SSS funds are currently projected to last until 2043, with four years recently added to its fund life as a result of the 0.6 percent contribution rate hike and the new P16,000 maximum monthly salary credit effective January 2014.

The agency’s total revenues reached P64 billion during the first five months of 2014, which is eight percent higher from P59 billion for the same period last year.

SSS contribution collections, representing 77 percent of the agency’s revenues, surged 16 percent to P49 billion, with the bulk of payments coming from the employed sector.

Combined contributions from regular and household employees jumped by 16 percent to P42 billion; self-employed workers’ contributions grew by 10 percent to P2 billion; and contributions from voluntary members increased by 23 percent to P4 billion.

Ciriaco said SSS investment and other income surpassed the P9 billion target for the five-month period by 59 percent, primarily from higher-than-expected equity earnings.

On the expenditure side, P41 billion or 93 percent of expenditures were attributed to benefit payments, which increased 16 percent due to streamlined claims processing, particularly for death, disability and retirement (DDR) claims that normally comprise the majority of benefit payouts.

For the first five months of 2014, DDR payments totaled P38 billion, or 93 percent of benefit releases for the period.

Benefit payments during this five-month period also covered the six months’ worth of advanced pension payments disbursed to pensioners affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Meanwhile, SSS operating expenses posted a modest increase of four percent to P3 billion, utilizing only 49 percent of the allowed charter limit.

The slightly higher operating costs were attributed to initiatives such as conducting information campaigns, and expanding and relocating SSS office spaces to provide better facilities for members.

“Operating expenses included the five new branches and seven Sos [service offices]launched from January to May this year. We plan to open additional SSS offices in other key locations to reach out to more workers and widen members’ access to our services,” Ciriaco said.

As of June 2014, the number of local SSS offices totaled 239, which includes 141 branches, 33 representative offices, and 65 SOs.

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