By Chino S. Leyco
State-run Social Security System (SSS) said its pension loan releases hit the P1-billion mark after the fund relaxed some of its requirements for applicants.
In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive, said that 41,926 availees have already tapped the pension loan program (PLP) since September last year that is equivalent to total releases of P1.006 billion as of last May 27.
“We are pleased to note that our pensioners are now relying on SSS for their immediate financial needs instead of going to loan sharks,” Ignacio said.
SSS data showed Bacolod branch has the most number of approved loan applications at 2,696 and the highest amount of disbursed pension loan at P56.76 million.
Bacolod was followed by Diliman branch with 2,177 approved loan applications for P56.09 million amount of pension loan; Cebu branch with 1,547 availees for P38.42 million pension loan releases; and Victorias branch in Bacolod City with 1,733 availees for P36.48 million pension loan.
Further, of the total number of approved loan applications, majority of the pensioners or 92.16 percent preferred to pay their pension loan for 12 months followed by some 6.25 percent who chose to pay within six months while the remaining 1.59 percent opted to pay within a three-month period.
Last March, SSS relaxed its guidelines for more than 1.2 million qualified retiree pensioners so that those who are receiving their monthly pension even for just a month and is already posted in the system, is already qualified to avail of the SSS pension loan.
Previously, a retiree pensioner must be receiving his monthly pension for at least six months to qualify for the pension loan.
Further, the new guidelines for PLP application also allowed the presentation of other government-issued identifications cards aside from the Social Security Card or Unified Multi-Purpose Identification (UMID) card as a form of identification.
However, Ignacio said that while the program has met its objective to provide immediate financial assistance to its pensioners for their short-term and emergency needs, she urged pensioners to be vigilant and avoid transacting with “fixers” for their SSS transactions, especially for the PLP.
“Sad to say, there are people who take advantage of our pensioners during their times of need. This has to stop. And this will only stop if our pensioners will no longer entertain any deal with these individuals who exploit them,” Ignacio said.
SSS received an incident report last month from its Bacolod branch that 15 pensioners fell victims to unscrupulous fixers whose modus operandi was to advance portions of their approved SSS pension loan then ran away with the pensioners’ cash cards.