Laughable ‘Acop’ shows SSS loves redundant, burdensome tasks

I am a Social Security System pensioner. Last Feb. 29, I presented myself at our local SSS office and accomplished the form called Acop (Annual Confirmation of Pensioners). Introduced in 2012 or thereabouts, it purports to stop continuing pension payments to already dead pensioners.

Actually, I accomplished two Acops: one, to restore my retirement pension which had been suspended since November 2015 because I forgot to present myself at an SSS office last October, my birth month; another to catch up with the last day of my deceased wife’s birth month; otherwise the death benefit I derive from her might also be cut off beginning this month. That is how the Acop strictly operates.

While I was waiting for my name to be called by the Acop-processing clerk, a nearby bespectacled and ostensibly highly educated senior citizen asked me what I thought about this annual exercise. I replied, “OK lang, sir, I do it yearly.”

I was surprised when he came back rather disappointed: “It’s unfortunate … this is unnecessary!  When we die, our survivors will claim for burial reimbursements and submit our death certificates; isn’t that enough? This is nothing for you and me who can still move around, but certainly not for the bedridden who can’t even go to church on their birthday! How many of us now here present have been unduly deprived of our maintenance medicines owing to sheer forgetfulness?”

I knew the filing of Acop allows for proxies, but I no longer cared to retort. How extremely naive had I been to be grossly unaware of what he said! Indeed, prior to the Acop, we can all agree that the claim for burial expenses had always been the built-in deterrent against unscrupulous survivors who may want to keep getting the usual pensions after the pensioners had died.

And so, with due respect, I address this letter to the present SSS management: Pray tell, dear sirs and madams, where had that old and fairly time-honored control mechanism failed such that you have to introduce the Acop and contend, to say the least, with the extra administrative process and difficulties it entails?

You must really love redundant work very much! What with the additional clerks you now surely need, both locally and at the head office? That, though it takes a minimum of two months for an actually erroneously suspended pension to resume.

Second, given the Acop, I must have been virtually dead in your eyes as far as my retirement pension was concerned and still alive with respect to the death benefits I get from my deceased spouse. Can there be anything else as laughable as that?

Third, isn’t the present system a shotgun approach to fell down a few targets? Or, are there really so many retirees’ survivors nowadays who would rather waive P25,000 in immediate lump-sum burial-expense reimbursement in exchange for receiving, say, only P5,000 in pension every month? If so, can’t the anomaly be still discovered and appropriate actions taken when the claim for burial expense is eventually filed, it being not an easy thing to falsify actual dates in a death certificate? I mean, shouldn’t the anomaly be taken on a case-by-case basis, not on a generalized and highly presumptuous perspective?

At any rate, I refuse to imagine that dishonest characters are a growing tribe in our midst and times!

—RUDY L. CORONEL, rudycoronel