THE Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) were urged on Thursday to change their “proof of life” rule for their pensioners while there is a coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
In making the appeal, House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said the requirement that a pensioner should personally report to the nearest GSIS or SSS office on his birthday to prove that he is alive should be temporarily suspended.
Castelo, a vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development, said she understands that the personal appearance requirement aims to foreclose the possibility that GSIS or SSS continues to pay pension benefits to a dead retiree.
“But at this time of pandemic, it is unsafe for pensioners, who by the way are senior citizens, to go out of their homes and report to the GSIS or SSS office nearest them,” Castelo pointed out.t
It is also against the policy of the inter-agency task force (IATF) on Covid-19 response prohibiting senior citizens from going out unless they have to buy household essentials or they are working in permitted establishments, Castelo stressed.
She suggested that instead of requiring their pensioners to personally report to their offices or branches on their birthday, the GSIS or SSS could take the initiative to reach their retirees via the Internet or mobile communication devices.
Alternatively, a retiree could be asked to submit a video or photo showing him or her with the day’s newspaper, she said.
This is what former presidential aide Sen. Bong Go usually does whenever the public is wondering where President Duterte has gone or has been doing after an absence of a few days, according to Castelo.
Another way of verifying whether a retiree is alive is through the bank where GSIS or SSS deposits his/her pension, Castelo said.
“Let’s not burden our pensioners with asking them to go to a GSIS or SSS branch for proof of life, at least while this infectious virus is with us, when there are other ways of verification,” Castelo stressed.