Investing in SSS Flexi-Fund: Savings for OFWs

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Do you know that Social Security System has a special savings program exclusive to Filipinos working abroad?

It’s called SSS Flexi-Fund, and it’s an investment option for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who would want to invest in a transparent, high-yielding savings offered by SSS. This article is going to discuss the benefits, eligibility, and how you can actually start your own savings.

What is SSS Flexi-Fund?

According to SSS, it is a provident savings program that is exclusively open to all OFWs. The program was launched in 2001. Its goal is to provide additional income on top of what the regular SSS savings provides in preparation for your pension during retirement.

As a voluntary program, there is a need to start the account separate from the mandatory SSS membership savings. The interest it earns is higher than what accounts in the bank offer.

How are the Flexi-fund contributions invested?

How does SSS spend the contributions that they collect?

Available materials coming from SSS do not spell out how the contributions under the program will be exactly invested. The money that is collected will be used to invest in fixed income securities. What is clear is that the yields will be higher than the interest earned in deposit accounts in the banks in the same comparable period of time.

Who are qualified to open an SSS Flexi-fund?

The fund is open to all overseas Filipinos worjers and younger than 60 years old. They must be paying the maximum contribution on their regular SSS savings based on the most current schedule, and they can be any one of the following:

  • Living permanently in another country.
  • Hired to work in an employment position based abroad.
  • Earning income from a foreign country.

So the program is designed to allow Pinoys abroad to be able to build their savings and maximize its returns.

SSS Flexi-fund benefits

Tax-free earnings

The savings will be exempted from any taxes.

Guaranteed earnings

Earnings from the fund are guaranteed. One source says that the earnings are at 4%, and another stated that the earnings can go up as high as 5.1%.

Re-pricing

Rate of returns are re-computed periodically. This makes it transparent as it actually reflects the prevailing situations of the country’s economy. The earnings rate of the current period reflects the re-pricing that was assessed in the previous three months, which are credited to the account to form part of the accumulated funds.

AIB

AIB is annual incentive benefit. It was launched just a few years ago. It is given to participants of the fund who have not made any claims within the year.

The amount of AIB depends on the income of SSS at the end of each year and is divided among savers proportionate to the amount of their savings. It increases the returns that OFWs can get from the program.

Compound interest

Because the earnings are credited regularly, there is a chance to earn compound interest and even higher return as the savings grow in value over time.

Advantages of SSS Flexi-Fund

So what are the advantages of SSS Flexi-fund?

  • It is transparent. The contributions are used to invest in fixed income securities. Also, it is managed by SSS, a government-owned corporation.
  • The benefits are risk-free because the returns are based on whichever is higher between the short-term SSS peso placements and 90-day treasury bills.
  • The benefits that you get when you open the account are backed up by the government, safe, and tax-free.
  • Because of the way that the contributions are invested, the returns are comparably higher than the ones released by the banks through their deposit accounts.
  • The program is also designed as a provident fund, which is geared towards addressing retirement, total disability or unexpected death.
  • If there are any urgent need for cash and you’d like to get your money back, withdrawal is allowed. There is no lock-in period or other similar conditions.
  • Registration is easy. You can open the account either in the country or branches that are located abroad.
  • Payment is made easier through online portals, participating payment centers, and various SSS branches.
  • You can start with a low capital as the initial deposit is small.
  • You may choose to save consistently every month.
  • Qualified savers can take advantage of the annual incentive bonus (AIB). It increases the chances of having even higher returns for your money.

Flexi-fund disadvantages

  • Fees are assessed when the account is closed within the first year.
  • A management fee of 1% is assessed for the operation and management of the program, which would be deducted from the account at the end of each month.
  • The AIB is only given to eligible savers and its amount is dependent on the income that is declared by the SSS annually.
  • Registration may be challenging for people who are nowhere near any branches of SSS.
  • Proof of identity and other related documents are required upon opening of the account.

How much can you earn from SS Flexi Fund?

According to SSS, the fund is invested in or SSS short-term placements and 91-day treasury bills, and the earnings may be whichever is higher between the two. We don’t have data for SSS short-term placements, but BSP publishes rates from 91-day treasury bills. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data shows it can range anywhere between 1.7% to 5.754%. Another news item stated that the savings can earn 4% per annum. Check this projected estimates of SSS Flexi Fund earnings.

How can you open an SSS Flexi-fund?

Opening the Flexi-fund account is relatively easy. You may choose to visit any SSS branches located across the archipelago. For OFWs currently abroad, they may drop by any SSS branches that are located near them.

Upon registration, it is best to have the following documents prepared.

  • SSS membership registration which is the Personal Record form (SS Form E-1) You may ask one to be printed for you at the branch. Or you can also download from the MySSS. portal and accomplish the process by filling out the required information.
  • Any valid identification cards for proof of identity such as baptismal certificate, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) ID, or Seaman’s Books.

Another alternative registration is going online. You may choose to send an email to ofw.relations@sss.gov.ph.

The third way is to go to the SSS website at www.sss.gov.ph. Just follow the instructions as detailed on the page. You will be asked to access the page for issuance of SSS number. Make sure that you complete the registration process by filling out the information that are asked from you.

How much can you contribute?

According to the rules, you may contribute at least ₱200 for as long as you are contributing the maximum amount based on your declared income in Philippine pesos. Of course, you may opt to save bigger amounts if you choose to.

You may check the image below for the schedule of contributions.

Where can you pay for SSS Flexi fund?

You can remit your contributions the same way that you do with the regular savings.

  • Relatives in the Philippines may pay through SSS branches.
  • You can pay through Coins.ph. See the instructions here.
  • Payments are also received through participating payment channels.
  • You may also request for contributions to be automatically deducted from your account through any participating banks.
  • Remittance centers locally or abroad
  • Money exchange houses
  • Banks and/or foreign affiliates: Asia United Bank (AUB) Gintong Hatid, Banco de Oro (BDO) Remit Services, BOC SIKAPPINOY, Philippine National Bank (PNB) Overseas Bills Payment Service.
  • Online branches of i-Remit, Lucky Money , Ventaja, and Sky Freight

Is there due date for Flexifund contribution?

Generally, there is actually no due date on when you can contribute.

Bear in mind though that they may be credited according to the months declared. For instance, January to December contributions can be paid any time of the year.

Also, January 31st is the last day anyone can pay for the last quarter of the previous year (October, November, and December).

Flexi-fund fees

According to SSS, there is a management fee of 1%.

When can I get my money back?

There is actually no lock-in period that is set. Anyone can withdraw the money they put in any time or when the need arises. Remember that closing the account within the first year may incur fees.

  • Get your money back any time. Fees may be applicable if you close the account before the first year ends.
  • Annual Incentive Bonus or AIB is credited to the account for members who have not made any withdrawal claims for the applicable year.
  • Earnings are credited at the end of each month.
  • Provident needs such as retirement, partial or total disability, or unexpected deaths.

Will Flexi-fund go bankrupt? If so, what’s going to happen?

SSS has never gone bankrupt. In its existence since the 1950s, never had it gone to request for a bailout.

But in the unlikely event that its funds are depleted and the program’s value is wiped out, the law states that SSS is backed up by the state. According to the Republic Act No. 8282, the government ensures its existence through the backing of the tax-paying Filipino citizens.

References

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