Unemployment Benefits and Other COVID-19 Government Assistance Schemes

Published: April 1, 2020 | Updated: April 21, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Government Services


COVID-19 Government Assistance in the Philippines | Moneymax

Infected or not, Filipinos are grappling with the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in one way or another. Suddenly, the public health crisis disrupted the lives of many—from simple inconveniences like getting stuck in one’s home to more serious problems like the increased risk of coronavirus infection and loss of income.

The national government declared an enhanced community quarantine all over Luzon, and some local governments in other parts of the Philippines followed suit.

To help Filipinos recover from the loss of economic opportunities due to the lockdown, the government has started to provide unemployment benefits, financial aid, and other forms of assistance. We compiled them into one place, so you know which ones you can benefit from.

Know if you are at risk for COVID-19 with our COVID-19 Self Assessment tool. Click here.

Table of Contents:

COVID-19 Government Assistance for Filipinos

Free Medical Consultation

COVID-19 Government Assistance - Coronavirus Free Medical Consultation

Do you or any family member have possible symptoms of the coronavirus disease? You can call any of the following DOH COVID-19 emergency hotlines [1] to ask about your condition:

  • DOH COVID-19 Hotline: (02) 8 952-6843
  • For PLDT, Smart, Sun, and TNT subscribers: 1555

This free service is available 24/7 for questions from people who suspect they might be infected with COVID-19. Through this emergency hotline, DOH also accommodates requests from those with symptoms and/or known exposure to positive cases and/or patients under investigation (PUIs).

Requests are forwarded to the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center and other relevant agencies, which will provide an immediate response.

PhilHealth Coverage for COVID-19 Patients

COVID-19 Government Assistance - Coronavirus PhilHealth Coverage

PhilHealth members won’t have to pay for COVID-19 testing and hospitalization due to the coronavirus disease, as these will be shouldered by PhilHealth. This is one of the COVID-19 government assistance launched during the lockdown.

Non-members can also make a claim for PhilHealth benefits by submitting an accomplished PhilHealth Membership Registration Form (PMRF)[2] in addition to the requirements for COVID-19 claims.

Learn More: Do You Have COVID-19? Take This Coronavirus Self Assessment Test

Read more: Does Health Insurance Cover COVID-19? What Filipinos Need to Know

Unemployment Benefits for Affected Workers

SSS Unemployment Benefit

Got laid off after your company shut down due to the enhanced community quarantine? You can avail of COVID-19 government assistance through the SSS unemployment benefit.

Who Can Apply?

This unemployment insurance provides cash aid to covered employees, including OFWs and kasambahays, who are involuntarily separated from their jobs for any of the following reasons:

  • Redundancy
  • Retrenchment
  • Business closure or cessation of operation
  • Installation of labor-saving devices
  • Illness

How Much is the SSS Unemployment Benefit?

The SSS will pay qualified members a cash benefit worth half of their average monthly salary credit for up to two months.

According to the Department of Finance (DOF)[3], the average unemployment benefit for qualified SSS members is around PHP 11,000, and the maximum amount is PHP 20,000.

How to Apply for SSS Unemployment Benefit

Because of the Luzon-wide lockdown, filing of claims for unemployment benefits is done differently during the quarantine period.

Instead of transacting directly with SSS personnel, members must submit the requirements using the no-contact dropbox system in any SSS branch from Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Claims can be filed within one year from the job termination.

The SSS is also planning to shift to the online filing of claims that could be available in April.

Here are the requirements for SSS unemployment benefit claims:

  • Original and photocopy of the member’s primary valid ID or two secondary IDs
  • Certification of involuntary separation from the Department of Labor and Employment (for local workers) or Philippine Overseas Labor Office (for OFWs)

To get a DOLE or POLO certification, applicants must present a valid ID and a copy of the notice of termination issued by the employer. If the latter is not available, a notarized affidavit of termination of employment can be submitted.

Laid-off workers in the Philippines can apply for the DOLE certification at the DOLE field or provincial office in the area where they live or where their former employer’s office is located.

OFWs can apply for the certification at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in the area where their former employers operate or reside or the DOLE field or provincial office nearest their home in the Philippines.

If approved, unemployment benefits are released through the members’ UMID card enrolled as ATM or UnionBank Quick Card account.

Read more: SSS Unemployment Benefits: What SSS Members Must Know

DOLE CAMP: P5,000 Cash Aid for Local Workers

The government will pay lump-sum cash assistance of PHP 5,000 to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the DOLE’s COVID Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP)[4].

Who Can Apply for the DOLE Cash Assistance?

Workers are entitled to the DOLE cash assistance if they’re employed by private establishments (micro, small, or medium enterprises) that either adopted work-from-home arrangements or closed temporarily due to the Luzon-wide lockdown.

The DOLE CAMP covers such workers who are displaced from the onset of the coronavirus disease in January 2020 until the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine.

These employees are covered regardless of employment status—whether new hire, probationary, permanent, or contractual. This is one of the important features of this COVID-19 government assistance program.

The financial assistance is given only to workers with temporary income reduction or loss as a result of the lockdown. Employees still receiving their full salary and benefits, even if they’re working from home, are exempted.

How to Apply for DOLE CAMP

COVID-19 Government Assistance - DOLE Cash Assistance (CAMP)

Affected companies are responsible for filing an application for the cash aid for their employees. Below are the requirements to prepare:

DOLE Cash Assistance Requirements and Process:

  • Employers should submit an Establishment Report on COVID-19 (downloadable from the DOLE website)[5] and company payroll for the month before implementing work-from-home policies or temporary closure.
  • Requirements can be submitted through email to the DOLE regional/provincial/field office in the employer’s area.
  • Every application will undergo evaluation. Within three working days, the DOLE office will issue to the employer either a notice of approval or denial through email.

Within two weeks after issuing the notice of approval, the financial aid will be credited to the beneficiaries’ payroll accounts through bank transfer.

What If the Employer Refuses to Apply?

The DOLE advises qualified employees whose employers refuse to apply for the cash assistance to report them to the agency and provide the company details. The Labor Department will then contact and urge the companies to submit the application.

Temporary Jobs for Informal Workers

COVID-19 Government Assistance - Temporary Jobs for Informal Workers

The DOLE is also providing alternative jobs to informal sector workers through the Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), the government’s emergency employment program[6].

Under the program, beneficiaries will work for the government for 10 days, performing tasks like disinfecting homes and roads. Beneficiaries will receive the daily minimum wage together with a personal accident insurance, personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning kit.

Who Can Join the DOLE TUPAD Program?

Qualified for the TUPAD program are underemployed, self-employed, and displaced marginalized workers whose source of livelihood has been affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

These informal workers include jeepney/tricycle/taxi drivers, fruit and vegetable vendors,

Formal workers are also welcome to apply for the temporary employment program.

How to Apply for DOLE TUPAD Program

Since this temporary employment program has been implemented in barangays before the outbreak, the application process will be easy and quick, according to the DOLE.

Simply approach your barangay officials and let them know you’re interested in joining the program. They will then include your name in the list of beneficiaries, which will be forwarded to the nearest DOLE regional or field office along with supporting documents.

$200 Cash Aid and Repatriation for OFWs

All OFWs who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic will receive cash assistance of USD 200 (around PHP 10,000) from the DOLE. [7]

OFWs who are still abroad may also make a repatriation request so that DOLE can arrange for their return to the Philippines.

How to Apply for OFW Assistance

To avail of the program, overseas Filipinos must contact the POLO in their host country. OFWs who are currently in the Philippines must visit the nearest OWWA regional office.

OFWs just need to submit a certificate of employment issued by their agencies, which will be used to evaluate if they’re qualified for the cash assistance.

Related:

COVID-19 Emergency Assistance for Filipinos

P5,000 to P8,000 Cash Aid for Low-Income Families

A PHP 200-billion aid package under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469) will be distributed to households belonging to vulnerable sectors affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

President Rodrigo Duterte said that the emergency subsidy program[8] is the “largest and widest social protection program in the country’s history.”

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is the agency in charge of processing and distributing government assistance.

How Much is the Cash Assistance?

The social amelioration program will be given to affected families in cash and in-kind (e.g., food packs) worth PHP 5,000 to PHP 8,000 good for two months based on the regional minimum wage.

Who Can Apply?

The following vulnerable groups qualify for the Social Amelioration Program:

  • Senior citizens
  • Persons with disability (PWDs)
  • Pregnant women
  • Solo parents
  • Distressed and repatriated OFWs
  • Indigenous people
  • Homeless people
  • Farmers
  • Fisherfolks
  • Self-employed citizens
  • Informal settlers
  • Workers affected by the No Work, No Pay Policy (such as PUV drivers, kasambahays, construction workers, etc.)

Read more:

How to Avail of the Social Amelioration Program

If your family is eligible for the program, you should receive a DSWD-issued Social Amelioration Card (SAC) from your barangay. This card will be the government’s basis in providing assistance and monitoring any duplication of delivery of aid.

Beneficiaries may be required to present proof of status, such as senior citizen ID for senior citizens, PWD ID for PWDs, solo parent ID for single parents, or barangay certification for homeless people.

If you haven’t received the SAC yet, coordinate with your barangay officials for assistance.

SSS Salary Loan

Despite the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSS still accepts and processes salary loan applications from its members. This is good news, especially if your source of income is affected and you need extra money to cover your living and medical expenses during the quarantine.

You can apply for an SSS salary loan online through your My.SSS account or by leaving your documents in any designated dropbox in SSS offices. The SSS does not accept over-the-counter loan applications in any of its offices to contain the coronavirus spread.

Read more: Quick Guide to Applying for an SSS Salary Loan Online

SSS and GSIS Calamity Loans

Starting around the second week of April 2020, the SSS and GSIS will make their respective calamity loan packages available to members who need to borrow money during the Luzon-wide quarantine.

SSS members can apply for a calamity loan up to PHP 20,000 depending on their posted monthly contribution. Those with an existing SSS salary loan can also avail of the calamity loan, as long as they’ve been making timely loan repayments.

SSS calamity loan applications can be done online or through designated drop boxes in SSS branches.

The SSS advised members to wait for further announcements regarding the SSS calamity loan.

Meanwhile, the GSIS will also provide an emergency or calamity loan of up to PHP 20,000 to government employees. As of this writing, the agency is still working on the system for GSIS emergency loan application and processing. Wait for an official announcement from the GSIS regarding the calamity loan details.

Read more: How to Apply for an SSS or Pag-IBIG Calamity Loan

Pag-IBIG Multi-Purpose and Calamity Loans

COVID-19 Government Assistance - Pag-IBIG Multi-Purpose Loan

The Pag-IBIG Fund is still processing loan applications filed before and during the enhanced community quarantine. This means members can borrow up to 80% of their total accumulated savings with the Fund through a salary or calamity loan.

Who Can Apply for a Pag-IBIG Loan?

Members with an existing Pag-IBIG multi-purpose loan (MPL) may still apply for another MPL if they’ve made at least six monthly repayments to the first MPL account.

You can apply for a Pag-IBIG calamity loan (whether you have an existing MPL or not) if you live or work in an area placed under the enhanced community quarantine and have at least 24 posted monthly contributions.

How to Apply for Pag-IBIG Salary/Calamity Loan Online

Pag-IBIG loan applications can be filed only via email. Here’s how:

  1. Download an MPL or Calamity Loan Application Form from the Pag-IBIG Fund website[9]. Fill out and sign the form.
  2. Email the PDF copy of the accomplished form to your company HR. Your employer or HR will sign the Application Agreement form and send back the form to you via email.
  3. Take a clear photo of your valid ID and Pag-IBIG Loyalty Card Plus or DBP/LANDBANK/UCPB cash card, whichever is available.
  4. Send your loan application form and images of your valid ID and cash card to the email address of the Pag-IBIG Fund office[10] located near your employer’s office. Alternatively, you may request your employer to send your loan application on your behalf instead.

It will take longer than usual (within seven to 20 working days) to process an MPL or calamity loan application because the Pag- IBIG Fund is currently operating with a reduced workforce during the lockdown.

Borrowers will be notified via SMS upon loan approval and release.

Read more: Quick Guide to Pag-IBIG Salary Loan Application

Payment Deadline Extensions

SSS Contribution Remittance Deadline Extension

COVID-19 Government Assistance - SSS Payment Deadline Extensions

Worried about not paying your SSS contributions because you can’t get out of your house? Don’t be—the SSS has extended the due dates for contribution payments. This is one the recently launched COVID-19 government assistance.[11]

The new deadline is June 1, 2020 for self-employed, voluntary, and non-working spouse members (contributions for January-March 2020), as well as business employers and household employers (contributions for February-April 2020).

Moratorium on SSS Short-Term Loan Payments

Qualified members with an existing SSS loan need not worry about making repayments for February to April 2020, as the SSS issued a moratorium on short-term loans. This means that you can pay for your loan up to three months upon deadline without interest and penalties.

Who are Qualified?

All members in the entire Philippines with the following SSS loans qualify for the three-month moratorium:

  • Salary loan
  • Calamity loan
  • Emergency loan
  • Restructured loan under the Loan Restructuring Program (LRP)
  • Educational assistance loan

How to Avail of the SSS Loan Moratorium

Qualified SSS members are automatically covered by the moratorium, which means there’s no need to apply for it.

For employees, their employers should immediately and temporarily stop the salary deduction for SSS loan payments. Loan deduction will resume after the end of the moratorium period for the applicable month of May onwards.

3-Month Moratorium on Pag-IBIG Loan Payments

COVID-19 Government Assistance - Pag-IBIG Payment Deadline Extensions

Pag-IBIG offers a three-month moratorium on all existing loans[12] of its members. This means qualified members can choose to skip their loan repayments for three months (starting from the last payment) without incurring penalties.

For example, if your due date is every 15th of the month and you’ve paid last March 15, your next payment deadline will be on July 15. Pag-IBIG will not charge you three months’ worth of amortization in just one payment. Instead, you’ll still be required to pay the same total amount due on your next payment.

Effectively, this will extend your loan term to make up for the unpaid three months. For example, if your loan will mature in December 2020, your repayments will be extended until March 2021 because of the three-month moratorium launched as a COVID-19 government assistance.

Who Can Apply?

The three-month moratorium is open to all members with existing Pag-IBIG multi-purpose loan, calamity loan, and/or housing loan due on March 16 to June 15, 2020. Only those living in Metro Manila and the entire Luzon (where the enhanced community quarantine is taking place) can apply for the moratorium.

How to Apply for the Moratorium on Pag-IBIG Loans

Since Pag-IBIG offices are closed during the lockdown, eligible members can avail of the moratorium online through the Virtual Pag-IBIG facility until June 15, 2020. The online service can be accessed by all members with or without a Virtual Pag-IBIG account.

Just fill out and submit the Pag-IBIG Loan Moratorium Application Form[13] online. Take note of the 12-digit reference number, which you’ll use to check your application status.

Once you have received approval for your loan moratorium application you’ll receive an SMS or email notification from the Pag-IBIG Fund to confirm the approval.

Members without internet access may apply for the moratorium at the nearest Pag-IBIG branch until June 15, 2020 once the community quarantine has been lifted.

Income Tax Filing Extension

COVID-19 Government Assistance - BIR Payment Extension

Taxpayers who can’t file their annual income tax return (ITR) on the April 15 deadline due to the community quarantine can now heave a sigh of relief. The BIR has extended the deadline for ITR filing and payment to May 15, 2020. The one-month extension doesn’t come with penalties. [14]

However, the BIR encourages taxpayers who are ready to file their ITRs by the original April 15 deadline to do so through the Electronic Filing and Payment System (eFPS). This will help the government raise funds to control the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines, as part of the COVID-19 government assistance program.

Related: How to File an Income Tax Return in the Philippines

Final Thoughts

The unemployment benefits and other forms of COVID-19 government assistance listed above are those provided to affected sectors nationwide. For benefits specific to your city, municipality, or province, contact your LGU for information on the economic relief you can avail as a resident.

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