The state-run Social Security System (SSS) on Thursday officially opened its foreign representative office in New York City which is in line with its commitment to ensure the social security rights of Filipinos working abroad.
The SSS New York office is located in The Philippine Center at 556 Fifth Avenue which also housed the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in New York and other government agencies. It is the pension fund’s 27th foreign representative office in 18 countries. The SSS also has foreign representative offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the United States (US), and in Toronto and Calgary in Canada that provide member assistance services to the Filipino communities.
Among the services to be offered by SSS New York are issuance of SS numbers, verification of membership, contributions and benefit eligibility, member data change request, benefit claim and loan applications, and Annual Confirmation of Pensioners (ACOP). It will be opened daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. SSS-accredited partners, such as the Philippine National Bank, Ventaja, and Lucky Money Inc., will handle collection of SSS payments from members.
“We believe that social security, as a human right of every worker, should never be optional as it is the basic safety net of all workers. Thus, it must always be guaranteed, especially in times of life’s contingencies. Along with the signing of the Social Security Act of 2018 into law is the promise to have mandatory coverage for all sea-based and land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) through strengthened bilateral social security and labor agreements with different countries in the world,” said SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio.
Filipino permanent migrants in the US, those with immigrant status, naturalized/dual citizens, and permanent residents may also continue their membership or register for the first time with SSS as voluntary member. Based on the latest data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Filipino population in the US stands at 3.6 million. Of this number, over 330,000 are residing in the US East Coast which is under the jurisdiction of the New York PCG and have supervision over the SSS NewYork office.
Amid concerns from OFW groups regarding the implementation of compulsory OFW coverage, Ignacio reminded members of the benefits of having social security, especially during retirement. To date, nearly 19,000 or 61.53 percent of the total number of pensioners abroad are residing in the US while the remaining 21.95 percent are from Canada and 3.96 percent are from Australia and the remainder are from other countries.
“The OFWs’ hard-earned money from many years of working abroad will be put to good use with every SSS contribution. Their SSS savings will be their lifeline in times of contingencies such as sickness, disability, retirement or death,” Ignacio said about OFWs’ additional privileges.
Aligned with the mandatory coverage of OFWs, SSS will continue to map out countries where there is large concentration of Filipinos for the possibility of establishing additional foreign representative offices, in close collaboration with the DFA and Foreign Service Posts.
“SSS will prioritize countries where most Filipinos are located to ensure that they have social security protection,” Ignacio said.