SSS shatters retiree’s dream of financial security
An average person who depends on income from employment usually dreams of a retired life relying on pension from our social security agencies—the Government Service Insurance System for government employees and the Social Security System for private employees. This was also my simple dream.
Having been in private employment for more than 35 years, I looked forward to living a quiet, simple life in my twilight years, financially secured by SSS pension. I was into this dream, with a sense of accomplishment, feeling proud of having sent my children to a reputable school and having helped them earn college degrees. I have also been so proud of owning a medium-priced house and lot through a Pag-Ibig loan that I and my wife paid just out of our monthly salaries. But suddenly a nightmare came and altered my beautiful dream.
I applied for my retirement benefits with the SSS a few days after my 60th birthday on Aug. 23, 2013. In less than 60 days, I got my long-awaited notice. I was so excited that I could hardly find a pair of scissors to cut the envelope. My excitement suddenly fizzled out when I read the notice that my monthly pension would be P4,300. My feeling of frustration was so intense that at the moment I really did not know what to do or think.
I wished to turn back the clock to the time when I was dreaming of retirement and change course at the crossroads. My expectation was to receive an amount way above this figure since I had been a contributing member since 1976 and remitting an amount in the upper bracket and, for more than 10 years up to my last day of employment in 2006, the maximum in the contribution bracket. Even if I slid to the middle bracket when I became unemployed from 2006 up to 2013 as a voluntary member, I did not expect to get this pittance as pension for the rest of my life.
To me, the SSS is so cruel. I got the notice at the height of the controversy where the SSS board members were reported to have rewarded themselves at least a million pesos each as performance bonus. How could they call it performance if they cannot live up to its name, social security? I was so mad at them feeling that part, how small it may be, of the money they are feasting on is mine. The SSS is so cruel; I got my notice at the time my contemporary friends in the government service started receiving their lump-sum retirement benefit in seven figures plus the monthly pension in the figures of P30,000 after five years.
The SSS, a government retirement program for employees, is a misnomer. What it is giving me out of the contributions I made practically in half of my lifetime is financial insecurity. In hindsight, I could have invested my contributions in private retirement plans for a better return.
If there is one suggestion I can make, I want the SSS to make transparent its formula in computing retirement benefits. This way, an employee is able to calculate and opt to voluntarily raise the level of contributions in the remittance bracket. Some employers are amenable to this kind of arrangement.
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