COGNIZANT of every individual’s need for social security protection and in line with its mandate to embrace every working Filipino, the Social Security System (SSS), one of the Philippines’ top performing agencies, is now providing coverage to overseas Filipino workers. OFWs may now register as voluntary members and those who were already members before going abroad but stopped paying their monthly contributions, may readily reactivate their membership without having to pay for arrears.
As the service is new, OFWs who may benefit from the coverage are only those working at the countries where the current nine offices opened by SSS are located. These offices are in Brunei, Hong Kong, Rome in Italy, Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Kaohsiung and Taipei in Taiwan, Kuwait and Greece. More offices will be opened as time and resources permit and it is envisioned that all foreign countries where there are large concentrations of OFWs will be serviced. As it is, plans are already underway to extend social security coverage in Tokyo, Singapore, Al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and Milan in Italy by putting up offices in these areas this year.
In a press release accessed through the SSS’ website “http://www.sss.gov.ph/“, it was learned that when SSS Chairman and President Carlos Arellano officially announced last year its new program, an estimated 200,000 OFWs were initially expected to join the SSS as voluntary members. During its information and coverage campaign last year among OFWs in few selected countries, SSS managed to collect contributions totaling to P1.44 million remitted through the SSS auto-debit arrangement program and close to $480,000 paid over-the-counter and through banks. By mid-July, some 19,500 OFWs were already registered as voluntary members! I would say that the SSS underestimated the number of OFWs worldwide. In the Philippines, there are 20.16 million SSS members, the report noted.
“By being active-paying members of the SSS, OFWs and their beneficiaries can be assured of receiving benefits for sickness, maternity, retirement, disability and death as well as enjoying loan privileges for housing and other purposes,” SSS Chairman Arellano said in the report.
SSS offices abroad are now receiving and processing applications for membership as well as receiving claims for benefits. Members are being provided with the new tamper-proof and machine-readable identification cards available only momentarily at the Hong Kong, Kaohsiung and Taipei SSS representative offices. In June, the ID service will be made available in Kuwait.
Kuwait’s SSS foreign representative Danilo Q. Calape, in a recent interview, has provided OFW-Suite101 the following additional information in a question and answer form:
1. WHO ARE THOSE COVERED WITH THE OFW PROGRAM? Those Overseas Filipino workers who are not yet 60 years old and are: a) Not yet SSS members; b) Previously SSS member and separated from employment and has not applied as voluntary paying member and those who are already voluntary members and are remitting contributions but not as OFW.
2. WHEN IS THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE COVERAGE OF OFW? Your coverage with the SSS as OFW will take effect on the payment of your first monthly contribution.
3. WHAT ARE THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED? Secure an SSS form OW-1 or Overseas Worker Record Form from your SSS Representative and submit the photocopy of the following: a) Birth or Baptismal certificate or Passport; b) Marriage certificate if married; c) Birth certificate of children if with children. You must bring the original copies of the above-mentioned documents for authentication.
4. WHAT IS THE BASIS OF YOUR CONTRIBUTION? The amount of your monthly contribution will be based on the monthly salary that you declare upon registration. Your monthly salary should not be lower that P3,000 and the maximum is P12,000.00. The amount of contribution is equivalent to 8.4% of your monthly income.
5. WHEN AND WHERE DO YOU PAY YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS? You may pay your contributions not later than the fifth day of the month following the applicable month at whatever designated exchange center or bank in the country where you are presently working.
Asked as to his message to the OFWs worldwide, Mr. Calape has the following to say:
“Now is the time for you to save for your family while you are still earning.”
A very sound and practical advice indeed!
Author: Freda Editha O. Contreras
Published on: March 7, 2000