MUCH HAS been written about the recently published new policy of the Social Security System on members who have reached the age of 65 with less than 120 monthly contributions. Widely criticized, the policy nevertheless was not profoundly discussed for the enlightenment of the public. And media interviews with SSS officials have not been helpful either. And despicable are the press releases that are totally misleading, like the ones telling the public that SSS terms for pensions have been softened, as if the policy is beneficial to members.
Prior to this policy:
3. A member who has paid at least 120 monthly contributions and has reached the age of 60 and is already separated from employment, or has reached the age of 65 is entitled to retirement pension.
In case of separation from employment and he wishes to complete the required number of contributions for him to qualify for retirement pension, or for his primary beneficiaries to qualify for survivors’ pension, he is allowed to continue paying voluntary contributions, regardless of his age and number of contributions paid.
The following are the effects of the new policy on a member initially covered at age 56 or above:
2. In case a member who has already celebrated his 65th birthday dies, the only benefit due is the funeral benefit. No survivors’ pension; and no lump sum unless he did not avail of the lump sum prior to his death, in which case the same is to be paid to his legal heirs.
In view of this new policy, the SSS might as well tell this categorical and truthful advice to members who have less than 120 monthly contributions or were covered at or after age 56: “Dying at age of 65 or over is extremely disadvantageous to your family—there will be no death benefit due, only the refund of your contributions!”
In other words, a member who has less than 120 monthly contributions or has been covered at or after age 56 must die before celebrating his 65th birthday so that his family may enjoy the death benefit. But the Social Security Law explicitly cites the qualifications for entitlement to death benefit and mentions nothing regarding the disqualification for deaths at age of 65 or over. So which will prevail—the SS Law or the policy in question?
—OSCAR R. NAVALES,