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SSS at 58: Marking milestones

First of four parts

column-susie buganteWhy do we celebrate anniversaries?

For couples, it is a time to remember the important moments in their relationship—the first time they met, their wedding, the birth of their kids, the purchase of a house, and the like.  Anniversary celebrations spark memories of the “good old days,” giving the couple a chance to reframe their relationship for the coming years.

For companies, anniversaries provide the chance to look back over the years to see how far it has come in that time—what it has achieved or not and how the company has grown.  It is also a time to acknowledge top employees and say thank you to clients.

The Social Security System (SSS) started a monthlong celebration of its 58th founding anniversary yesterday, September 1. All 264 branch offices held a Members’ Day where light snacks were given to members who visited the SSS and lucky members won token raffle prizes.  At the head office, a photo exhibit showing the accomplishments of the SSS in the past five years was opened at the lobby.  It was a simple but meaningful celebration.

Other activities that will celebrate the 58th year of the SSS is the recognition of top employees during its Employees’ Program on September 4, while on September 18, the annual Balikat ng Bayan Awards will be held to honor individuals, employers or organizations that significantly contributed to the SSS’s pursuit of its mandate to provide social security for all Filipino workers.

In the next four weeks, this column will be devoted to a “throwback” on the accomplishments of the SSS for the past five years.

Today let us talk about the enhancements on service delivery through electronic processes.

The shift from manual to electronic processes across various aspects of SSS operations, such as loan and benefit disbursements, submission of applications and reports, and records management, were intensified starting 2010. Among these was the agency’s increasing shift away from the manual mailing of checks toward the electronic release of loans and short-term benefits to employers and members.

The Unified Multipurpose Identification (UMID) Card is a breakthrough in service delivery of the SSS.  Today over 5.8 million SSS members so far have been issued the UMID card. Apart from identification purposes, members can presently use their UMID card for electronic access to their SSS records at Self-Service Information Terminals installed at SSS branches nationwide.

Last year the state-run institution introduced the SSS Citi Visa Cash Card program as an electronic alternative to loan checks, enabling members to instead withdraw their salary-loan funds using a special prepaid card. It was piloted at the SSS Diliman and SSS Makati Gil-Puyat branches in 2014 and will soon be rolled out nationwide this year.

Similar changes were also carried out for employer transactions. In 2014 the SSS started the mandatory implementation of the SSS Sickness and Maternity Benefit Payment thru the Bank Program, effectively replacing the check-payment method with the electronic transfer of reimbursements directly to the employers’ designated bank account.

As for reporting of payments, the SSS instituted the electronic submission of contribution and loan collection lists among employers to cut down the volume of paper-based transactions, minimize errors in encoding members’ data, and speed up the posting of payments into the SSS database.

Starting 2014, all employers, except those paying as household employers, are required to give their contribution collections list using the e-R3 form via electronic storage media such as USB flash drives. All employers with 10 or more employees must also submit electronically their loan collection lists using the e-ML2 form.

Further back in 2011, the agency expanded the features of the SSS web site (www.sss.gov.ph) so that members and employers can file their salary-loan applications, maternity notifications, employment reports and collection lists for contributions and loans through the online facility.

In the years following the Web upgrades, SSS web site registration rose from 1.36 million members in 2011 to 3.35 million as June 2015. Employer Web registration also showed an impressive surge from only 20,400 Web accounts in 2011 to nearly 210,000 as of June this year.

To facilitate the faster processing and coordination among SSS branches and departments, the SSS embarked on digitizing its microfilm and paper-based records starting in 2011 under the Automated Records Management System (ARMS), which then paved the way for the implementation of the Electronic Death, Disability and Retirement (DDR) System. With the ARMS, as well as the Electronic DDR, our personnel can quickly retrieve and view SSS documents electronically, instead of waiting for hard copies to be sent from one unit to another, thereby cutting down the time needed to process these transactions. It also improved our monitoring of DDR transactions and even created additional storage space in SSS branches.

Next week, we will talk about the financial status of the SSS.

 

For more information about the SSS and its programs, call its 24-hour call center at (632) 920-6446 to 55, Monday to Friday, or send an e-mail to member_relations@sss.gov.ph.

Susie G. Bugante is the vice president for public affairs and special events of the SSS. Send comments about this column to susiebugante.bmirror@gmail.com.

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