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Retiree apologizes to SSS but feels poorer still

/ 12:20 AM March 08, 2014

I must acknowledge a debt of thanks and apologize to the Social Security System in relation to my claim that I have not received a change in my pension in the last 14 years (“SSS upped pensions 3x in 14 years,” Opinion, 2/22/14), lest I be taken for a liar, which I am not!

Having given the matter some deeper thought—to be honest, amid a sudden surge of self-shame—I now realize why I had all along kept that erroneous impression, both mentally and emotionally, through these years. Please consider the following circumstances.

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Unlike when we were still employed, we, retirees, generally no longer receive pay slips or formal advice from employers to enable us to keep track of changes in our income. When I received my first pension in 2000, I outright calculated if it could cope at least with the basic household utilities I used to take care of before I retired, to wit: electricity, water, telephone, cooking gas and cable television bills. Thank God, it just exactly did! My youngest daughter, whose family lives with me in our ancestral home, was then insisting that she picked up our monthly costs en toto, which I knew she fairly could. But, then already widowed, I did not want my pension to end up practically useless. And so, I only had to simply and yet kind of proudly tell her, “Ano ako, poor?” for her to gladly give way to my wish. In 2007, I was diagnosed with hypertension and had to take daily maintenance medicines. I suddenly felt I had virtually grown poorer, being no longer in a position to maintain my health without giving up one or two of the household utility costs I had been shouldering. Now my daughter pays our Meralco bills.

Why am I relating this personal story?  Certainly, neither to express ingratitude for the three 10 percent across the board pension increases the SSS granted retirees in the last 14 years; nor to justify my ironic ignorance thereof. Very much less do I mean to pick up a quarrel with anybody in this regard. I merely wish to state a fact: When duly averaged, those increases do not approximate even a bit the annual inflationary trends in our midst and times. And so, alas, we retirees indeed feel poorer, rather than reasonably socially secure, in the remaining days of our lives.

FEATURED STORIES
OPINION

—RUDY L. CORONEL,

[email protected]

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