SSO firm on pension age hike but will offer more options
Change aimed at maximising benefits
The Social Security Office (SSO) Tuesday affirmed its plan to extend the age for pension payouts under the social security system from the current 55 to 60, but said it will proceed slowly with its implementation and offer more options.
The SSO's statement follows growing opposition by labour groups to the proposed change.
SSO secretary-general Suradej Waleeittikul said although the proposed change in the pension age was aimed basically at maximising the benefits on offer under the social security system, the SSO will move gradually to adopt it.
The social security law will have to be amended first before the next steps can begin, he said.
People registered under the social security system are assured they will have more than one option when the proposed change is implemented, he said.
In fact, the proposed amendments to the social security law have already been approved by a sub-committee screening draft laws and regulations associated with the proposed change in the pension age, he said.
The approved draft amendments are now expected to be forwarded to the social security board for consideration next Tuesday, he said.
After that the SSO is expected to organise public hearings on the move this month and next month when those who will be affected by the change are allowed to have a say.
As for concerns raised over transparency in the management of the Social Security Fund (SSF), Mr Suradej said details of the fund's management are published on the SSO's website.
As of May 31, the SSF has about 1.6 trillion baht, he said, adding that of this amount 1.13 trillion baht was the combined contribution by employers, the employees and the government, while the rest was the accumulated return, he said.
This amount is sufficient for funding core benefits under the social security system and possibly future benefits that will be added to the existing ones, he said.
The SSO has developed a mobile phone application, called SSO Connect, to allow people registered under the social security system to check their information including the amount of contributions paid into the SSF and the benefits they are entitled to receive, he said.
From 2015 to 2016, a total of 12 healthcare benefits have been added including double coverage of the cost of an operation required to prepare a kidney patient for dialysis.
The cost of the operation covered doubled from 10,000 baht per person per two years to 20,000 baht per person per two years, he said.
Others benefits added included guaranteed access to antiretriviral medicines for people living with HIV/Aids, which is seen as crucial for improving the quality of life for them as well as their ability to work and earn a living, he said.
The Thai Labour Solidarity Committee and a group of people registered under the social security system calling themselves the network of social security people have previously vented their opposition to changing the pension age.
They are concerned many workers, especially factory workers, have already planned their retirement and weren't fit to continue working after the age of 55.