SSS Worker’s Investment and Savings Program (WISP)

The Worker’s Investment and Savings Program (WISP), introduced by the Social Security System (SSS) in January 2021, is a strategic scheme to augment the retirement savings of its members whose Monthly Salary Credit (MSC) exceeds ₱20,000. As a compulsory provident fund, the program aims to enhance the financial security of Filipino workers by providing a supplementary layer of protection through benefits such as retirement pensions, total disability, and death benefits. Its tax-free nature ensures that the contributions of the members grow without any deductions, promoting a more efficient accumulation of retirement funds. This program is particularly significant for its role in boosting the long-term viability of the Fund, thereby ensuring both current and future members are better protected financially.

Following the success and positive reception of WISP, the agency introduced WISP Plus, a voluntary retirement savings scheme that seeks to provide an even broader avenue for members to secure their future. Unlike its predecessor, WISP Plus is open to all SSS members, offering the flexibility to save and invest with a minimum contribution of ₱500, irrespective of their income level or last posted MSC. This program distinguishes itself by allowing partial or full withdrawals after a year of membership, granting members greater control over their savings. Both programs are part of the agency’s commitment to fostering a culture of saving and investing among Filipino workers, providing them with robust options to ensure a stable and secure retirement.

Credits: PNA, SSS

What is WISP?

Launched in January 2021, WISP stands for Worker’s Investment and Savings Program. It’s a compulsory provident fund designed for members whose contributions exceed ₱20,000 under the Monthly Salary Credit (MSC). This scheme not only aims to bolster members’ retirement savings but also provides an additional layer of security through retirement, total disability, and death benefits. Contributions within the program are tax-free, ensuring that members’ savings grow unimpeded by taxes.

Significance of the Program

The Worker’s Investment and Savings Program holds considerable importance in the Philippines, serving as a compulsory provident fund for Social Security System members whose contributions to the regular program exceed ₱20,000. Implemented in January 2021 as part of the SS Law amendment in 2018, the program aims to address several significant objectives. Firstly, it provides a faster accumulation of individual funds, enabling members to save more efficiently for their retirement. Secondly, the program contributes to the long-term viability of the SSS Fund, ensuring its sustainability and expansion. By extending coverage and enhancing benefits, it caters to both current and future members, safeguarding their financial well-being. The program offers market-based returns, with contributions growing over time. Beyond the regular SSS benefits, WISP provides additional perks such as tax-free earnings, higher retirement benefits, and the flexibility to receive benefits either in lump sum or annuity123. It’s a prudent step toward securing a stable financial future for Filipino workers.

Legal Basis of WISP

The establishment of the said program follows the amendments made to the SS Law in 2018, highlighting the agency’s commitment to enhancing members’ welfare. This legal groundwork underscores the program’s significance in the broader spectrum of social security in the Philippines.

Benefits of WISP

  • Financial Growth: In its first year, WISP amassed ₱333.77 million in income, boasting a 6.39% return rate.
  • Tax-Free: Contributions and earnings within the program are exempt from taxes, safeguarding your savings from deductions.
  • Competitive Interest Rates: Your savings earn interest at rates more favorable than conventional bank savings, compounding until retirement.
  • Flexibility in Benefit Receipt: Members can choose to receive their benefits in a lump sum or as an annuity, aligned with the payout method of their regular benefits.

Introduction to WISP Plus

In an effort to extend more savings and investment avenues to its members, the SSS introduced WISP Plus, a voluntary retirement savings scheme. Launched alongside announcements from SSS President and CEO Michael G. Regino, the new program is an extension of the traditional social security offerings, allowing members to save and invest with a minimum contribution of ₱500. This program is available to all members, regardless of their income level or the amount of their last posted MSC.

Apart from its flexibility, the Worker’s Investment and Savings Program offers several other advantages.

  1. Higher Returns: WISP provides market-based returns on contributions. Unlike traditional savings accounts, where interest rates may be minimal, the program aims for more substantial growth over time. This feature allows members to potentially accumulate a more significant retirement fund.
  2. Tax-Free Earnings: The program offers tax-free benefits. When members receive their WISP funds, they don’t need to worry about tax deductions. This tax advantage can significantly enhance the overall value of their savings.
  3. Enhanced Retirement Benefits: WISP complements the regular SSS benefits by providing an additional layer of financial security. Members can expect higher retirement benefits due to the accumulated contributions. This ensures a more comfortable retirement phase.
  4. Choice of Payout: WISP allows flexibility in receiving benefits. Members can opt for either a lump sum payment or an annuity (regular payments over time). This choice caters to individual preferences and financial needs.

WISP and WISP Plus: A Comparison

The main differences between the two lie in their operational details:

  • Mandatory vs. Voluntary: WISP is compulsory for those whose MSC exceeds ₱20,000, whereas WISP Plus is a voluntary scheme open to all members.
  • Contribution Flexibility: WISP contributions are tied to regular SSS payments, but WISP Plus offers the flexibility to contribute anytime.
  • Withdrawal Options: WISP Plus participants can make partial or full withdrawals after a year of membership, a feature not available in WISP.

Eligibility and Qualifications

For WISP, membership is automatic for those whose MSC is over ₱20,000 and have no final claims with the agency. WISP Plus opens its doors to all members who wish to save more towards their retirement, with the only restriction being that members must not have filed for any final benefit claim like retirement or total disability.

Requirements and Enrollment

Enrolling in WISP requires no additional steps for eligible members, as it is integrated with their regular member contributions. To join extension program, members must log into their My.SSS account, accept the terms and conditions, and start contributing at their pace.

Step-by-Step Guide to Benefit from WISP and WISP Plus

  1. Verify Eligibility: Confirm your eligibility for WISP automatically or decide to opt into WISP Plus.
  2. Enroll in WISP Plus: Use your My.SSS account to accept the program’s terms and conditions.
  3. Start Contributing: Begin saving with as little as ₱500 for WISP Plus. For WISP, continue your regular member contributions.
  4. Monitor and Adjust Contributions: Keep track of your savings and adjust your contributions as needed.
  5. Withdrawal: After a year in WISP Plus, you can make partial or full withdrawals based on your needs.

Recent Updates

SSS Urges OFWs in Singapore to Avail of WISP Plus

The Social Security System is encouraging overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Singapore to take advantage of the Voluntary Provident Fund Program or the Worker’s Investment and Savings Program Plus. By investing in WISP Plus, OFWs can increase their retirement pension and enjoy tax-free investment earnings. With contributions as low as P500, this flexible savings scheme offers a promising return on investment, providing higher benefits upon retirement. (Manila Bulletin)

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The introduction of WISP and its enhanced version, WISP Plus, marks a significant milestone in the agency’s efforts to provide comprehensive financial security to its members. Whether through mandatory savings in WISP or voluntary contributions to WISP Plus, Filipino workers now have more robust options to secure their futures. As life’s unpredictability continues to challenge financial stability, programs like these stand as important pillars of support for the Filipino worker, ensuring a prosperous and secure retirement.

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