The Philippines, with the Social Security System (SSS) taking the lead in its pursuit, now has bilateral Social Security Agreements (SSAs) with Germany and Japan effective June 01 and August 01 of this year, respectively, ensuring the protection of social security rights for more than 230,000 Filipinos abroad.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said that these bilateral SSAs, aimed at reducing or eliminating nationality- and territory-based restrictions on social security, will benefit an estimated 47,214 Filipinos in Germany and 182,917 Filipinos in Japan, who are working or residing permanently in these two countries.
SSAs promote the welfare of all persons covered under the social security programs of either or both countries for retirement, disability and death contingencies. Its guiding principles are embodied in the 1962 ILO Social Security Convention No. 118 on the Equality of Treatment and the 1982 ILO Social Security Convention No. 157 on the Maintenance of Social Security Rights. There are four salient features of an SSA namely: (1) equality of treatment, (2) export of benefits, (3) totalization of insurance periods, and (4) mutual administrative assistance.
“With the bilateral SSAs in place, Filipinos are now entitled to social security benefits under the same conditions applicable to nationals of Germany and Japan and we are looking forward to extend the same protection to more Filipinos working or residing abroad,” said Dooc.
Covered persons and their beneficiaries, through the provision on export of benefits of the SSA, can receive their social security benefits regardless of whether they decide to reside in the Philippines, in Germany, in Japan, or even in another country.
The “totalization of insurance period” allows the consolidation of contribution periods made in both countries for the benefit of a worker who fails to meet the minimum qualifying conditions for pension entitlement in either or both countries.
For example, under the Philippine Social Security Law, a member must have at least 120 monthly contributions to qualify for a retirement pension. Without the SSA, a member with only 100 monthly contributions will only receive a lump-sum amount consisting of total contributions paid plus interest.
“Without the totalization provision of the agreement, a member will not be entitled to a retirement pension if only 100 monthly contributions are paid. However, under the agreement, he or she may qualify for a retirement pension if at least 20 or more monthly contributions or creditable periods are made under the social security scheme of Germany or Japan,” said Dooc.
Further, as designated liaison agencies, the bilateral SSAs will be implemented by the SSS and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the Philippines, the Deutsche Rentenversicherung for Germany and Japan Pension Service for Japan, to facilitate mutual administrative assistance.
“The SSS, in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other social security institutions, will continue to pursue SSAs with other countries to promote the welfare of overseas Filipinos and ensure social security protection in times of contingencies”, said Dooc.
In total, the Philippines has 13 bilateral SSAs with Austria, UK and Northern Ireland, Spain, France, Canada, Quebec, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Germany and Japan covering more than 1.34 million OFWs.