Hold leaving SSS benefits for departing OFWs

Leaving the country to work abroad can be a difficult decision for Filipino workers. As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), you make enormous personal and financial sacrifices to secure a better future for your family back home. Receiving your hard-earned benefits upon retirement should be a given. However, due to issues like taxes and unforeseen circumstances that may force you to return earlier than planned, it’s best to know your options on how to manage your SSS benefits while working abroad.

How OFWs can defer SSS benefit claims

The Social Security System allows OFWs to hold off claiming their benefits until they return to the Philippines for good. Instead of filing for retirement, disability, unemployment or other monetary claims piecemeal whenever situations allow while abroad, OFWs have the option to accumulate all benefits due throughout their overseas stint only to be claimed in one go.

This deferment of SSS benefit claims can be advantageous in two key ways:

Avoid taxes and fees on periodic benefit claims

Receiving SSS benefits while abroad may subject you to taxes in your host country. There could also be bank charges every time you transfer funds from your SSS benefit claim to your accounts back home. Deferred claims prevent such expenses from eating into your benefits. Instead, you receive your benefits in full tax-free upon your return.

Get incentives exclusive only to final claims

The deferral allows you to avail of certain incentives offered by SSS and other government agencies that apply only when the benefits are claimed as a final one-time payment. These include:

  • SSS incentives – Upon your permanent return, you can request to receive your deferred claims in two lump sum amounts instead of one in order to qualify for double the incentives given by SSS. Their incentive program grants cash gifts, healthcare benefits and others to retiring members.
  • OWWA incentives – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration offers healthcare, livelihood and other financial assistance programs to returning OFWs but only if they claim their full SSS benefits in one go.
  • PhilHealth coverage – Lifetime PhilHealth insurance coverage can also be availed provided deferred SSS claims are taken as a whole.

How to file for deferred SSS benefit claims

The process of notifying SSS that you wish to hold off benefit claims until you return from overseas work is simple. Here are the steps:

1. Submit the SSS e-Form for deferred claims

Login to the My.SSS portal using your SSS digitized ID or UMID e-Card and accomplish the e-Form for “Deferment of Benefit Claim”. Indicate your projected date of final return when you plan to claim accumulated benefits.

Alternative options to file the e-Form are through email or at your nearest SSS branch.

2. Renew deferment application before projected return date

As the initially declared date of final return approaches, you must renew your application for deferred claims if you still have not come back by then. This renewal can be made at least 30 days before the projected return date expires. You can also use this opportunity to check the latest sss ofw contribution table and other SSS guides to ensure you are aware of any new incentives, programs or contribution schedules before you return.

3. Notify SSS of actual return

Inform SSS once you have permanently returned within 60 days from your arrival. Submit proof of return such as immigration documents and clearance from your overseas job contract.

You will then be advised on the claiming process for all deferred benefits plus any additional claims accumulated from your remaining time abroad after initial deferment.

Other important reminders

A few other notable pointers for OFWs planning to defer their SSS benefit claims:

  • Monthly pension claims cannot be deferred, only one-time lump sum benefits.
  • You continue to be a registered SSS member even while claims are deferred so keep paying any applicable contributions.
  • Benefits can remain deferred for up to 5 years total after which claims are automatically paid out.
  • In case of disability or death while abroad, deferred benefits are immediately released.

The option to hold off receiving your SSS benefit entitlements until you wrap up your overseas job allows you the peace of mind that your hard-earned benefits await your return in full. Make sure to inform SSS in advance that you wish to defer claims to avail of all associated incentives exclusive to returning OFWs.

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