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The number of Social Security System (SSS) members filing unemployment-insurance claims skyrocketed since the pandemic began in March last year, the government’s chief economic manager revealed.

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III

Since the SSS unemployment insurance benefit (UIB) program began in March 2019, the pension fund released P2.62 billion worth of jobless claims as of June this year.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III revealed that of the total amount, P2.35 billion or 90 percent of the cash grants were released during the COVID-19 pandemic period from March 2020 to June 2021.

Moreover, 173,791 out of the total of 196,021 SSS members who availed of the UIB received the cash grants during the pandemic period, Dominguez said.

“Implemented effective March 2019, the UIB program is among the key institutional responses of the SSS to the COVID-19 pandemic for its affected members since March 2020,” said Dominguez, who is also Social Security Commission (SSC) chairman.

Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, the UIB shall be granted the separation or involuntary unemployment of the members.

Amid the pandemic, the SSS has made it easier and more convenient for members to apply for UIB claims by allowing applications online through the My.SSS member portal in the SSS website, Dominguez said.

The SSS also started using electronic payment systems in releasing the UIB and other benefit claims in line with Dominguez’s instructions for the pension fund to digitize its system in order to speed up the grant of loans and benefits to its members.

Under the law, an employee who is involuntarily unemployed can only claim the UIB once every three- years.

But in case of the concurrence of two or more involuntarily unemployment events, RA 11199 states that only the highest benefit shall be paid by SSS, subject to the rules and regulations prescribe.

Source: Manila Bulletin (