HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo on Sunday appealed to the Social Security System (SSS) to resolve the issue on the delay and confusion on the payment of pension benefits.
Castelo made the appeal after watching a report on television (TV) showing tens of pensioners in their 70s 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, Castelo lamented 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.
She added 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,” Castelo said.
Castelo added that part of the alleged delay could be the result of confusion on the revised schedule of payment of pension.
The House leader noted that the TV report quoted an SSS spokesman as saying 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 has 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.
Castelo urged the SSS to return to its old payment system under which it deposited the 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 said.