For the past six decades, the Social Security System (SSS) has been keen in promoting adequate safety nets for all working Filipinos. In fact, our mandate transcends the spectrum of social status or working class—a private sector employee, self-employed businessman or professional, overseas Filipino worker (OFWs), household helper, non-working spouse, as well as worker in the informal sector could be all SSS members.
However, access to SSS services has been challenging for members living in far-flung communities. Some of them have to take land or boat travel to go to the city proper just to pay their SSS contributions and submit their benefit claims. Although SSS has representative offices in municipal halls, the fact remains that members still have to leave their work areas, thereby reducing the opportunity to earn more for the rest of the day.
Related to these scenarios, SSS thought of looking for new prospective partners within communities that are reliable in facilitating various SSS transactions. Meanwhile, farmers, fisherfolk, small and micro entrepreneurs, and other self-employed workers from the informal economy can also join organized groups such as cooperatives and microfinance institutions. Given their significant role in building resilient and sustainable communities, SSS decided to tap these organized groups to become our valuable partners.
The SSS Accreditation Program was launched in 2012 wherein cooperatives, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and other organized groups are authorized by SSS as partner agents (PAs) to provide services to their own members who are also SSS members.
Collecting PAs are authorized to receive and collect SSS contributions, loans, and miscellaneous payments from self-employed and voluntary members who would like to continue paying their SSS contributions as such, and avail themselves of SSS services under the terms and conditions set in the Memorandum of Agreement for Collection Services.
Meanwhile, servicing PAs are authorized to receive and screen various application forms of self-employed, voluntary, OFW members, and non-working spouses, which include loan and funeral benefit applications.
In return, the SSS gives service fees for successfully posted transactions and approved SSS registrations, which could be a form of additional income for the PAs.
To qualify as a PA, a cooperative must be registered with the Cooperative Development Authority. For an MFI or other organization, it must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and must be in operation for at least three years. Further, its operations must pass the financial evaluation criteria set by the SSS. Application forms for accreditation are available at all SSS branches nationwide.
As of May this year, there are 68 accredited Servicing and Collecting Partner Agents nationwide—eight in the National Capital Region, 34 in Luzon, 18 in Visayas, and eight in Mindanao. We believe that this program will continue to expand as we find more cooperatives and MFIs that never cease to empower communities through social security protection.
I would like to share Henry Ford’s quotation on teamwork and partnership: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Aurora C. Ignacio is SSS president and chief executive officer.
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