Many pregnant women have high hopes for the proposed Expanded Maternity Leave Act, which seeks to provide new mothers a 120-day paid leave benefit. As we wait for it to be signed into law (hopefully soon), you can take advanatge of the Social Security System (SSS) Maternity Benefit. Below, we answer everything you need to know:
Who are qualified? "SSS maternity benefit is for all members of SSS regardless of employment status," shares Sharlene M. Picache, mom of two and a former HR specialist. According to the SSS website, female employees (married or not) who have given birth, had an ectopic pregnancy, or even a miscarriage, can avail the SSS maternity benefit. However, she needs to meet the following qualifying conditions:
• The female employee has paid at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period immediately before the semester of her childbirth or miscarriage.
For example, if your due date is in December this year, you are qualified to avail of the benefit if you had paid contributions for at least three months between July 2016 to June 2017. Count six months (one semester) before your due date, and then start checking your SSS contributions from that month up to 12 months prior.
• The female employee has given her employer or the SSS (for self-employed, voluntary, or members who are already separated from employment) notice and proof of her pregnancy. The next item lists what proof will be required plus a step-by-step guide for the application.
How do I apply? You need to notify your employer and SSS about your pregnancy first:
1. Accomplish the SSS Maternity Notification (download it from the SSS website here). 2. Submit the Maternity Notification form with proof of your pregnancy. These can be any of the following: your pregnancy test stick, an ultrasound report, or a medical certificate from your doctor. Some companies may ask for a combination of any of these proofs. 3. Prepare photocopies of your Unified Multi-Purpose ID card (UMID) or SSS biometrics ID card plus two other valid IDs, both with your signature and at least one with photo and date of birth. If you don't have a UMID or SSS ID yet, you need to apply for one.
If you are an employee, your company will file your papers with the SSS. Submit your papers to your company HR as soon as you can because the filing must be accomplished at least 60 days from the date of conception. Failure to notify SSS beforehand can be grounds to deny the application.
SSS has been notified. What's next? Make sure you get a copy of the SSS Maternity Notification Form you filed, duly stamped and received by SSS. It is one of the requirements when applying for reimbursement of the SSS Maternity Benefit. Here's what you'll need after you've given birth:
1. Your SSS Maternity Notification Form duly stamped and received by SSS. 2. Accomplished SSS Maternity Benefit Reimbursement Form (download it from the SSS website here). 3. Prepare photocopies of your UMID or SSS biometrics ID card plus two other valid IDs, both with your signature and at least one with photo and date of birth. 4. Proof of live birth. For normal deliveries, SSS will need a certified true copy of the registered birth from your local civil registrar (use the one with the original "Certified True Copy" stamp or mark) or from NSO although it can take two to four months to get it. (Read here how one mom got her son's birth certificate from NSO in less than a month.) You cannot use the birth certificate given by the hospital where you gave birth.
For C-section deliveries, SSS requires documents that prove a C-section apart from the certified true copy of birth certificate. These can be certified true copies of the operating room record, surgical memorandum, discharge summary report, medical clinical abstract, delivery report, or detailed invoice showing C-section delivery charges for those who delivered overseas.
What if I had a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy? You can still avail of benefits. You need to submit an obstetrical history indicating the number of pregnancies you've had, signed by your doctor, and proof of the circumstances of your miscarriage or failed pregnancy. These include the pregnancy test sticks before and after a miscarriage; ultrasound report as evidence of pregnancy; a medical certificate about the circumstances of your pregnancy; a dilation and curettage (D&C) report; or certified true copies of hospital/medical records, among others. If it was a stillbirth, you need to submit a registered death or fetal death certificate.
How much can you get from your SSS maternity benefit? The SSS maternity is equivalent to 100 percent of the member's average daily salary multiplied by 60 days for normal delivery or miscarriage, or by 78 days for C-section delivery or miscarriage.
Within the 12-month period mentioned above, add your top six highest contributions to get your total monthly salary credit. Divide your total monthly salary credit by 180 days to get your average salary credit or your daily maternity allowance. Then multiply your daily maternity allowance by 60 or 78 days to get your total amount.
Under the law, companies are required to pay for in advance their employee's maternity benefit within 30 days from the filing of the maternity leave application. The Social Security System (SSS) will then reimburse the company.
Is the process the same for self-employed SSS members? Self-employed members, voluntary members, and members separated from their employer will submit the Maternity Notification form at the nearest SSS branch. You can also notify SSS of your pregnancy online via its website or through the SSS Self-service Information Terminal (SSIT).
After birth, fill up the Maternity Benefit Application Form (download it from the SSS website here) and attach your SSS Maternity Notification Form duly stamped and received by SSS. (If you submitted your pregnancy notification online or through SSIT, the "Maternity Notification Submission Confirmation" would suffice.) Don't forget your certified true copy of registered birth and photocopies of your UMID or SSS biometrics ID card plus two other valid IDs, both with your signature and at least one with photo and date of birth. You also need to attach the proof of birth (see above).
Members separated from their employer will need to provide a certificate of employment that shows the date of separation and a certification of no advanced payment from the last employer. Under the law, you cannot avail of the maternity benefit when you have already claimed your sickness benefit.
Can you still avail of the benefit even if you're a stay-at-home mom or currently unemployed? HR specialist Loida M. Pondevida says yes as long as you've posted at least three monthly contributions before the semester of your date of delivery. She advises checking your membership status first by requesting a Static Information Sheet from SSS. Take note under the current law you can only apply for SSS Maternity Benefit for your first four pregnancies or failed pregnancies whether you've claimed them before or not.