SSS grants OFWs more time to file sickness notifications
MANILA, Philippines — The Social Security System (SSS) is now allowing Filipinos working overseas to file their sickness notifications with the agency’s offices abroad within 35 calendar days—a longer period compared with just five days after start of home confinement previously.
In a statement, the state-run pension fund said the extension of the prescriptive period to file notifications for overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) illnesses not requiring hospitalization has been “in consideration of their limited time and accessibility to SSS offices while abroad.”
As of mid-2015, the SSS has 1.07 million OFW-members, up 9 percent from the about 983,000 members working abroad in mid-2014.
“For sickness notifications filed past the prescriptive period, the days of confinement to be covered by SSS are deemed to start only on the fifth day immediately prior to the date of filing. Hence, the longer prescriptive period helps OFWs avoid lower benefit amounts or rejected claims due to late notifications, as compared with the previous five-day leeway,” Brenda P. Viola, officer-in-charge of the SSS’ medical services division, explained.
“With the extended 35-day prescriptive period, the OFW will be compensated for the entire 15 days that he was sick given the same date of filing for the sickness notification and assuming the benefit claim was filed on time,” according to the SSS.
The SSS’ sickness benefit is “a daily cash allowance granted to qualified members confined at home or in the hospital for at least four days, including the period for recovery, due to an illness or injury.”
“The number of compensable days is up to 120 days per calendar year that can be extended for another 120 days the following year on account of the same medical condition. Illnesses or injuries that persist for over 240 days can qualify for SSS disability benefits,” the SSS said.
This grant of an additional 30-day grace period in filing sickness claims not requiring hospitalization was implemented through the SSS’ Circular No. 2015-11 dated Aug. 18.
The circular was issued following the Social Security Commission’s Resolution No. 524 series of 2015 dated Jul. 8, which aimed “to address the concern of members who are OFWs that due to the distance between their place of work/residence and the nearest SSS foreign office, their claim for sickness benefit are often penalized for late-filing,” SSS president and chief executive Emilio S. de Quiros Jr. said.
Also, the SSS is reminding OFWs, who are considered voluntary members, that it likewise implements prescriptive periods to file sickness benefit claims: one year from start of illness for those confined at home, and one year from date of discharge for those confined in hospitals.
“OFWs can file their sickness notifications and benefit claims in person, through a representative or via mail to any SSS office in the Philippines or overseas,” it added.
At present, the SSS has foreign representative offices in Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Kuwait, Macau, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom.
“Within the year, we will announce the list of our international toll-free numbers for the SSS queries of our members based overseas,” Viola disclosed. SFM
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