A Metro Manila solon asked the Social Security System (SSS) to explain the reported delay and confusion over the payment of pension benefits.
Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo expressed alarm over reports that pensioners in their 70s were crowding the SSS members’ assistance center in Quezon City and inquiring about their delayed pension.
Since most government personnel are on work-from-home arrangement, only a few SSS employees attended to the complaining retirees.
“These are senior citizens who should be staying home. By going out to inquire about their pension, they exposed themselves to the infectious new coronavirus,” Castelo said.
According to Castelo, there should be no delay in the release or payment of pension, especially at this time of pandemic.
“Our elderly need their monthly benefit, which is barely enough for their medicines,” she said.
She added that part of the alleged delay could be the result of confusion over the revised schedule of payment of pension.
Reports quoting a spokesman for the SSS said that the new schedule is based on the birthday of pensioners, who are required to register online for those with internet and in person in any SSS office for those without internet access.
The spokesman said failure to register would mean suspension of pension until they comply with the requirement.
He was also quoted as saying the SSS shifted to a new benefits payment system that does away with the use of checks.
“Again, why introduce these changes amid the pandemic even if the objective is to save money by discarding the practice of issuing checks? Why expose our senior citizen-retirees to health and physical risks unnecessarily?” Castelo asked.
She said the shift to a new payment schedule and the requirement to register online or personally resulted in many pensioners not receiving the money due them on time.
The lady solon then urged the SSS to return to its old payment system under which it deposited pensions in banks where retirees were required to open individual accounts to receive their money.
“That scheme was working well. Our retirees do not understand the decision to change it and make it difficult for them to get their benefits at this time,” she added.