A LACK of awareness on the role of the Social Security Organisation (Socso) has prompted many members of the public to forward their enquiries to thesundaypost. This week, thesundaypost journalist Peter Sibon talks to Socso state director Tan Bi Fong to help clarify some issues.
BP: Can you tell us what are some of the schemes (including loans) provided by Socso?
Tan: Basically there are two schemes under Socso. Namely: (i) Employment Injury Insurance Scheme (a) Provides protection to employees who meet with accidents arising out of and in the course of doing his work (Eg: A bus driver involved in a road accident while driving the bus.) (b) Commuting Accidents — provides coverage to: i. Employees travelling on a route between his place of residence to the place of work. ii. On a route between his place of work and place where he takes his meal during any authorised meal break. (Eg: During a lunch break.) (c) Occupational Disease (Eg: Hearing loss due to constant exposure to excessive noise.)
(ii) (a) The Invalidity Pension Scheme This scheme provides 24 hour coverage against invalidity. Invalidity means a morbid condition that is unlikely to be cured. (Eg people suffering from cancer, end stage renal failure, heart attack, mental illness.) (b) Survivors Benefit It also covers employees who die from whatever causes (Eg: death due to sickness or even suicide) before the age of 55 and must have enough contributions to meet the minimum qualifying condition.
iii. Education Benefit This is a loan given only to dependant children of insured employees who are in receipt of monthly payment from Socso. It is for certificate/diploma/degree courses at local institutions.
BP: How does Socso determine the quantum of compensation for employees who lost various parts of their bodies such as fingers, feet, eyesight, etc due to injuries while working?
Tan: Quantum of compensation is based on the employees’ salary. As you know, the rate of Socso contribution is based on the salary. The higher the salary, the higher the contribution and vice versa. And this means higher or lower compensation.
i. Loss of eye sight (blind) = 30 per cent
ii. Loss of entire ring finger = 7 per cent
Illustration: Mr A: Monthly Salary = RM 750.00, Contribution = RM 14.60, Losing of Ring Finger = 7 per cent (Assessed by medical board) Age = 26 years years Payment = RM 12,645.67
Mr B: Monthly Salary = RM 1,650, Contribution = RM 37.10, Losing of Ring Finger = 7 per cent (Assessed by medical board) Age = 26 years Payment RM 27,788.34
BP: Is it true that it is very difficult to get claims from Socso? If not please explain.
Tan: If the proper procedures are followed, the necessary documents are sent in, then Socso has no reason to hold on to the case. Eg: Original medical certificate must be submitted to Socso office for employment injury cases for processing of payment. The KPI for temporary disablement benefit is within three working days upon receipt of completed document. The KPI for long-term benefit, eg survivors pension, is within five working days.
BP: What are the necessary steps to follow to make claims and compensation from Socso?
Tan: For Employment Injury, the employer must fill up Form 21 correctly and submit to us together with medical leave chits. The employer must report to us within 48 hours from the time the employer knows of the accident. For Invalidity cases, applicants must fill up PKS (41) and submit the medical report. There are check lists for every benefit application.
BP: Some quarters claim that employees can get a refund of their contribution upon reaching their retirement. Is it true? If not why?
Tan: It’s not true. The concept of Social Security is based on pooling of resources and sharing of risk. It’s not a retirement/savings fund for old age. So the questions of refund does not arise at all. I feel that we should thank God every day for having all our limbs/senses intact. Imagine the amount of suffering, anguish and pain a person goes through if his hands or legs are injured, eg a lorry driver who fractures his leg in a road accident. It’s not only him but his family suffers too.
BP: What is the maximum age of employees to join Socso?
Tan: There is no age limit for employees to join Socso. The only thing is if you are employing young people; just make sure you do not contravene the provision under the Sarawak Labour Ordinance.
BP: What are some of the common reasons for Socso not paying any compensation to the contributors?
Tan: If there is no police report for road accident cases. Accident cases that do not fall under the definition of Employment Injury Invalidity or Survivors Benefit claims that do not meet the minimum qualifying condition — do not have enough contributions.
BP: Can you share with us some of the pertinent problems faced by Socso in Sarawak?
Tan: Problems peculiar to Sarawak will be: i. No identity cards or birth certificates of beneficiaries of deceased ii. No proper documentation of marriage iii. Lack of awareness of benefits under Socso iv. Logistics ñ sometimes we have difficulty contacting the beneficiaries or relatives of claimants (eg: staying in a remote area). Of course we resort for help via Jako Pesan (radio).
BP: What kind of employees are covered by Socso?
Tan: Socso covers monthly paid, daily paid, piece-rated, casual and temporary workers. Socso covers all who are earning a monthly salary of RM3,000 per month and below. But if you paid before and are now earning more than RM3,000 per month, you should still continue to be covered by Socso.
BP: How can anyone check whether he has contributed to Socso previously?
Tan: You can always call the Socso Office and with your identity card number, we can verify that.
BP: Any advice to employers?
Tan: Please register your company with the Socso Office within 30 days from the time you employ one worker and above. Failing which the employer can get a RM500 compound (fine).
BP: Any latest development in Socso?
Tan: We have established a Return To Work (RTW) Department. We have officers who will meet up with injured persons of employment injury cases who are on long medical leave. The officers will talk to them and even the doctors to discuss about their rehabilitation needs, as well as motivate and counsel them. Some of them have phobias about returning to work and feel depressed after loosing their limbs eg amputated legs and so on. This early intervention will increase the probability of their returning to work earlier and faster. In a way it will restore a person’s self-esteem and the company’s productivity as well as the nation’s. And also the company will not spend so much to retrain and replace the injured workers. In a way the company and workers should practise adequate safety measures. As the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’.