How to Apply for SSS Unemployment Benefit: Updated for COVID-19 Pandemic


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Nothing is as terrifying as losing your job without any warning, more so if you’re the family’s breadwinner.

Sadly, this is the reality for most Filipinos who rely on employment as their only source of income.

But thanks to the SSS unemployment benefit, one of the key provisions of the Republic Act 11199 (also known as the Social Security Act of 2018), Filipino employees who just got laid off can have a temporary source of income to keep things afloat while they’re looking for a new job.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to apply or file an SSS unemployment benefits claim so you won’t lose your mind after losing your job. After all, unemployment is not the end of the world!

Go back to the main article: SSS Contribution Table (with Detailed Computations and Explanations)

 

What is the SSS unemployment benefit?

 

For starters, here are the basic things you should know about the SSS unemployment benefit:

  • Also known as unemployment insurance or involuntary separation benefit, it’s a form of cash benefit given to support Filipino employees, including the kasambahays and Overseas Filipino Workers (both sea-based and land-based), who are unexpectedly displaced from their jobs.
  • It’s a benefit, NOT a loan that SSS members have to pay. In fact, it’s the 7th and newest benefit being offered by the Social Security System (SSS) which provides social security protection for all Filipino workers. The other SSS benefits you can also avail of are maternity, sickness, disability, retirement, funeral, and death.
  • It’s one of the landmark provisions of the Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018. This unemployment benefits program is now being carried out through Rule 27 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 11199. In fact, as a result of the adverse economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), SSS announced that it’s willing to approve up to Php 1.2 billion of unemployment benefits for as many as 60,000 premium-paying members who might lose or already lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
  • SSS is capable of financing unemployment benefits, thanks to the increased SSS contribution. The Social Security Act of 2018 (RA 11199), the same law that has finally made unemployment benefits a reality, is also the law that led to SSS contribution hike (11% to 12% in 2019; 13% in 2021; 14% in 2023; and 15% in 2025), two-thirds and one-third of which will be shouldered by the employer and the employee, respectively.

Related: How to Apply for Pag-IBIG Calamity Loan

 

When did the SSS unemployment benefit become effective?

According to the SSS Circular No. 2019-011, the guidelines for the unemployment benefits shall be applied to involuntary separations that occur on or after March 5, 2019.

In other words, Filipino employees who have lost their jobs on March 5, 2019, onwards are covered by the SSS unemployment insurance, provided that they meet the qualification requirements that will be discussed later on.

 

How much unemployment benefits/insurance will be given to qualified SSS members?

Employees who are qualified to get the unemployment benefits will be granted an amount equivalent to twice the 1/2 of their average monthly salary credit (AMSC).

As you may recall, SSS uses the monthly salary credit (MSC) to determine the amount of contribution that will be deducted from the employee’s salary.

Basically, the MSC is the median of the range of compensation, with the minimum and maximum MSC currently set at 2,000 and 20,000, respectively.

Let’s say you have a monthly salary of Php 10,000. As you can see in this SSS contribution table, that salary falls in the 9,750 – 10,249.99 range so your monthly salary credit (MSC) is Php 10,000.

Take note that monthly salary credit (MSC) is different from the average monthly salary credit (AMSC). 

According to the guideline written in the Social Security Act of 2018, here’s how to compute your average monthly salary credit (AMSC):

“…the sum of the last sixty (60) monthly salary credits immediately preceding the semester of contingency by sixty (60), or the result obtained by dividing the sum of all the monthly salary credits paid prior to the semester of contingency by the number of monthly contributions paid in the same period, whichever is greater..”

Related: How to View and Check Your SSS Contribution: 5 Easy Ways

Assuming that your salary never changed, then your AMSC remains Php 10,000.

Now, to learn how much unemployment benefit you’ll receive, simply get 1/2 of your AMSC which in this case is Php 5,000 (Php 10,000/2). That’s what you’ll receive for 1 month.

But since unemployed members are covered for a maximum of 2 months, multiply Php 5,000 to 2 and you’ll get a total of Php 10,000 worth of unemployment benefits.

 

Who are qualified to get SSS unemployment benefits?

sss unemployment benefit 1

The SSS unemployment insurance or involuntary separation benefit is available to employees, including the kasambahays and OFWs, provided that they meet the following qualification requirements:

1. Must not be more than 60 years old at the time of sudden unemployment. However, a lower age requirement is applied for those working as an underground/surface mineworker and racehorse jockey who must NOT be over 50 and 55 years old, respectively.

2. Has paid at least 3 years (36 months) worth of monthly contributions, 12 months of which should be in the 18-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation/unemployment.

3. With no settled SSS unemployment benefit within the last 3 years prior to the date of unemployment. You can only apply for this benefit ONCE every three years so if you already received this benefit within this period, you’ll be disqualified to get another one.

4. Has been involuntarily separated/laid off due to a valid reason.

This valid reason can either be one of the authorized causes for termination of the employee under Articles 298 (283) and 299 (284) of P.D. No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines), as amended:

  • Installation of labor-saving devices;
  • Redundancy;
  • Retrenchment or downsizing;
  • Closure or cessation of operation; or
  • Disease/illness of the employee whose continued employment is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his or his co-employees’ health.

Or, one of the causes that allow an employee to quit his job without notice to the employer, as stated under Article 300 (285) of P.D. No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines), as amended. These are:

  • Serious insult by the employer or his representative on the honor and person of the employee;
  • The inhuman and unbearable treatment accorded the employee by the employer or his representative;
  • Commission of a crime or offense by the employer or his representative against the person of the employee or any of the immediate members of his/her family; and
  • Other causes that are analogous to any of the foregoing.

5. Economic downturn (e.g., job loss due to the recession)

6. Natural or man-made disasters/calamities.

7. Other similar cases to be determined by the SSS or the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

 

Who are NOT qualified to get SSS unemployment benefits?

sss unemployment benefit 2

Not all employees who were involuntarily laid off can avail of the unemployment insurance from SSS. As a rule, employees can’t get unemployment benefits if the cause of the termination is one (or more) of the causes stated under Article 297 (282) of P.D. No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines), as amended. These are:

  • Serious misconduct;
  • Willful disobedience to lawful orders;
  • Gross and habitual neglect of duties;
  • Fraud or willful breach of trust/loss of confidence;
  • Commission of a crime or offense; or
  • Similar cases like abandonment, gross inefficiency, disloyalty/conflict of interest/dishonesty.

In other words, you are qualified to get the benefits if the reason why you’re laid off is outside of your control and not caused by your negative behavior. Otherwise, you’ll be disqualified and your employer has the upper hand in preventing you from getting the unemployment insurance.

 

How to Apply for SSS Unemployment Benefit Over the Counter: 3 Steps.

1. Complete the SS unemployment benefit requirements.

a. Original copy and photocopy of at least one (1) valid ID.

You can bring any one of the following primary ID card/documents:

If you don’t have any of the above-mentioned valid IDs, you can bring the original copies and photocopies of any two (2) ID cards/documents, provided that both of them contain your signature and at least one of them shows your photo.

 

b. DOLE Certification with the attached Notice of Termination or Affidavit of Termination of Employment.

All qualified employees who want to avail of the SSS unemployment insurance/benefits are required to secure a DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) certification establishing the nature and date of the involuntary separation.

To apply for the DOLE certification, you need the following:

  • At least one (1) valid ID (see the previous section). However, most DOLE offices require an original copy and photocopy of 2 valid IDs so make sure you bring an additional ID on the day of your application; and
  • Either a copy of Notice of Termination of Employment issued by the employer (also known as “Termination Contract”) or a duly notarized Affidavit of Termination of Employment (see a sample here). You need to bring an original copy and photocopy of the document.
  • Certification Form (to be given by DOLE).

Once you already have the above requirements, proceed to the following office to file your application for DOLE certification:

  • For local employees and kasambahays: DOLE Field or Provincial Office where the company of the employer is located or where the employee resides.
  • For OFWs: Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) where the employer operates or the DOLE Field/Provincial Office where the OFW resides.

As long as the documentary requirements you’ve submitted are complete, expect the DOLE Office or POLO to issue you the DOLE certification within one (1) day after receiving and verifying your application. 

 

c. A UMID-ATM card or a Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP) Quick Card.

Should you get approved, you won’t receive the benefits in the form of cash or check. Instead, SSS requires those who will avail of this benefit to have either of the two:

  • UMID card enrolled as an ATM; or
  • UBP (Union Bank of the Philippines) Quick Card. Your bank statement/certificate containing your name, account number, bank branch, and address is also accepted.

After approval, the unemployment benefits will be credited to your account so it’s imperative to have either of the two mentioned above. If you don’t have any of them, you’ve got two options:

  • Apply for a UMID-ATM card. In case you already have the UMID card (without the ATM functionality), you can also apply for UMID-ATM card, this time as a replacement; or
  • Apply for a UBP Quick Card at the Union Bank of the Philippines Kiosk located at selected SSS branches.

Between the two, I recommend getting the UBP Quick Card because:

  • It’s a Visa card so you can use it as a debit card for online or offline purchases;
  • It has no maintaining balance;
  • It can be used as a personal bank account (Related: Best Bank in the Philippines – A Definitive Guide);
  • It can be used for remittances;
  • It’s easy to obtain since you can apply for it at the same SSS branch where you’ll file your application. You can find UBP Kiosks at select SSS branches, including the main branches in Diliman, Makati, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao;
  • It can be used to receive other SSS claims.

 

2. File your unemployment benefits claim at any SSS branch.

After completing your requirements, proceed to ANY SSS branch or SSS foreign office to file your claim.

The filing must be done within a year from the date of involuntary separation/unemployment. 

Once your application is approved, you’ll be informed when you’ll receive the SSS unemployment insurance/benefits.

 

3. Receive the cash benefit.

You’ll receive the one-time payment of the unemployment benefit through your UMID-ATM card or your UBP Quick Card account, whichever you’ve chosen. SSS doesn’t make the payment through cash or check.

Based on some members’ experience, the SSS unemployment benefits are usually credited to your account an average of 5-10 working days from the date of application. 

Aside from the two cards, there are also other modes of payment currently under development. Once implemented, the following payment channels will also be available to receive your unemployment benefits:

  • Banks under PESONet;
  • Non-bank cash pick-up.

 

How to Apply for SSS Unemployment Benefits Online (to be Updated).

The sudden surge of unemployment brought about by the COVID-19 lockdown has pushed the Social Security System (SSS) to work on an online filing system that will fast track the application process for SSS unemployment benefits.

According to SSS President and CEO Aurora Ignacio, the said online filing system could be available as early as April to all the displaced workers due to the pandemic, the total number of which is yet to be accounted for due to the limited workforce of the SSS.

Rest assured that we’ll update this article as soon as instructions on how to apply for SSS unemployment benefits online are released to the public. 

 

Tips and Warnings.

  • A qualified employee can only claim the SSS unemployment benefit once every three (3) years starting from the date of involuntary separation/unemployment.
  • If there are two or more compensable contingencies within the same compensable period, you’ll receive only the highest benefit.
  • The settled/approved unemployment benefit will be deducted, either in partial or full, from the future benefits you might receive if: (1) There are overlapping benefits; (2) When the involuntarily laid off employee files a case against the employer; (3) When the filing or payments involve false claims; or (4) When the employee is rehired within the same compensable period.
  • For more information about the SSS unemployment benefits, you may contact SSS via email ([email protected]), hotline (1455), call center (7917-7777), or any of their social media channels.

 

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. I resigned from my job. Can I avail of SSS unemployment benefits?

No. Because it’s an “involuntary” separation benefit (meaning it’s not your choice to be fired), employees who voluntarily quit the job with their resignation clearly indicated in their termination contract will not be granted a DOLE certificate, thereby disqualifying them from getting the SSS unemployment benefits.

 

2. My application for DOLE certification has been denied/rejected. Why?

There are plenty of reasons why DOLE may refuse to issue you a certification. Here are the most common ones:

  • You were terminated but your employer didn’t issue you a termination contract;
  • You were terminated due to redundancy, retrenchment/downsizing, business closure, etc. but your employer failed to declare it to DOLE prior to giving you the termination contract;
  • You were terminated due to serious misconduct or other reasons stated under Article 297 (282) of P.D. No. 442 (For more information, please see “Who are NOT qualified to get SSS unemployment benefits?”);
  • You resigned from your job and the same is stated in your termination contract (again, this is an “involuntary” separation benefit);
  • Your termination contract contains wrong information/typographical error/spelling errors (if this is the case, request for a revised contract from your company HR);
  • You’re applying for DOLE certification more than a year after the date of your termination (Remember: You should file your claim WITHIN A YEAR from the date of your involuntary separation).

 

3. I’m an SSS voluntary member. Can I avail of this unemployment benefit?

Unfortunately, no. The SSS unemployment benefits/insurance is only available to employed members (including the kasambahays and OFWs) in the event that they get laid off from their jobs. If you’re a voluntary member who needs cash for your short-term needs, you can apply for an SSS salary loan instead.

 

4. Can I still apply for the unemployment benefits even if I have an outstanding/existing SSS loan?

Yes. The unemployment benefit is a BENEFIT, not a loan. Therefore, having an existing loan won’t prevent you from availing it. As long as you meet all the qualification requirements listed here and you didn’t resign from your job, then you’re welcome to apply.

 

5. How long is the processing time of the SSS unemployment benefits?

You’ll receive the cash benefit after 5-10 working days from the date of application.

 

About the Author.

Luisito E. Batongbakal Jr. is the founder and chief content strategist of FilipiKnow, a leading online portal for free educational, Filipino-centric content. His curiosity and passion for learning have helped millions of Filipinos around the world get access to free insightful and practical information at the touch of their fingertips. With him at the helm, FilipiKnow has won numerous awards including the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2013, the 2015 Globe Tatt Awards, and the 2015 Philippine Bloggys Awards (nomination). Connect with him on Linkedin.

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