DOF chief lauds digitalization, other feats of former SSS president since 2019

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has commended former Social Security System (SSS) President and CEO Aurora Ignacio for her accomplishments since she took over the helm of the pension fund in 2019, citing in particular her efforts to accelerate the digitalization of the agency’s processes for the benefit of its members.

Ignacio spearheaded the implementation of various digitalization initiatives in the SSS, all of which were put on the fast track at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Most SSS transactions by the public have now shifted to digital. In 2021, 75 percent of transactions were done through various electronic and online channels.

These include online filing of retirement benefit for particular retirees; unemployment insurance benefit; sickness benefit and maternity benefit application and notification for individual members; sickness and maternity benefit reimbursement for employers; and funeral benefit for member-claimants. The salary and calamity loan applications and the renewal of pension loans are now also done online.

“The SSS’ timely digital switch on the watch of Aurora Ignacio as its President and CEO has enabled the pension fund to continue doing business with its more than 40 million members with relative ease—and releasing on time the benefits due them—despite the mobility restrictions that the government has had to impose nationwide to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Dominguez, who is concurrent chairman of the Social Security Commission (SSC).

Under Ignacio’s leadership, SSS benefit claims and loan proceeds are now released to the designated disbursement account of the SSS member or pensioner through PESONet participating banks/e-wallets and Remittance Transfer Companies/Cash Payout Outlets.

The SSS Mobile App was also further enhanced with more features and capabilities.

By the end 2021, it had a total cumulative download of 22,518,473 and a total cumulative volume of transactions and inquiries of 115,194,517.

In 2018, when the mobile app was launched, there were only 824,006 downloads.

Dominguez also recognized the SSS’ key role under Ignacio in the successful implementation of the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) program in 2020 – a paperless, corruption-free, and efficient distribution of the national government’s amelioration program.

A total of P45 billion in wage subsidies benefited around 3.1 million employee-beneficiaries and 113,000 employers.

When Ignacio assumed her post in the SSS, the pension fund had successfully collected more than half a billion pesos covering a universal bank’s unremitted and delayed remittances of contributions.

Through Ignacio’s initiative, the SSS also effectively implemented the terms of a lease contract where the lessee was obliged to turn over to SSS a building with a fair market value of P4 billion.

SSS was likewise able to negotiate the settlement of a long-standing collectible from another government agency amounting to P4.8 billion, with P1.56 billion paid in cash as initial settlement.

Ignacio led the state pension fund agency in carrying out the provisions of the Social Security Act of 2018 or Republic Act (RA) No. 11199, which replaced the three-decade-old SS Law, RA No. 8282.

These include the legislated new contribution rates and new Monthly Salary Credits (minimum and maximum); the New Mandatory Provident Fund Program also known as the Workers’ Investment and Savings Program (WISP); rationalization of the powers of the SSC including condonation of penalties on delinquent contributions which SSS had offered in 2019 and 2021; and the new SSS Unemployment Benefit Program, which provides a temporary cash benefit for eligible members after an involuntary separation from work.

SSS has released P2.9 billion in unemployment benefit disbursements to at least 216,000 members since March 2019.

“With the commitment and determination of our workforce, we have successfully transformed the institution to become better, more responsive to the needs of the stakeholders and certainly more sustainable” Ignacio said during the Turnover Ceremonies for the new SSS President and CEO last March 14.

Michael Regino has been named the new SSS President and CEO following Ignacio’s assignment to the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) as a member of its Board of Directors. (DOF)