Filipinos abroad are more assured of their protection after another bilateral agreement was signed, adding Germany to the list of countries that guarantee the payment of social security benefits to migrant workers.

Social Security System (SSS) President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr. said the Federal Government of Germany and the Philippines agreed to ensure equal protection for Filipino and German nationals working in each other’s country in a social security agreement (SSA) signed on September 19.

De Quiros and other SSS officials, in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Embassy and other government agencies traveled to Berlin recently to sign the agreement, which was initiated in March 2013.

“The agreement will strengthen and further deepen the ties between Germany and the Philippines with regard to promoting social security,” De Quiros said. “It eliminates dual or burdensome coverage under two social security systems of contract workers deployed in either of these countries,” he added.

The bilateral agreement on social security between the Philippines and Germany, which will undergo ratification by President Benigno Aquino III and concurrence of the Senate, will benefit about 55,821 Filipinos in Germany, of whom 45,647 are permanent and 10,174 are temporary residents, according to De Quiros.

Aside from fostering equality of treatment in the workplace, Aquino said that the bilateral agreement “will also improve the processing of claims and prevent dual coverage. This will consequently redound to the benefit of both Filipino and German nationals,” he added after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Among the highlights of the Philippines-Germany agreement are the “totalization” and export of social security benefits.

With totalization, Filipino workers who have divided their career time between the Philippines and Germany will be able to combine the contributions they made in both countries to meet eligibility requirements for social security benefit or pension in either or both countries.

“So if a Filipino worker in Germany has not met the required number of contributions to qualify for a benefit, the concerned German institution will take into account the contributions of that worker in either the SSS or GSIS,” De Quiros explained.

He also said a covered Filipino worker in Germany, including his dependents and his survivors shall be eligible for social security benefits under the same conditions as German nationals in Germany.

In addition, a worker will continue to receive his benefits wherever he decides to reside in the Philippines, Germany, or another country.

“Workers covered by this agreement are assured of administrative assistance from designated liaison agencies, such as the SSS and GSIS in the Philippines, and select key agencies administering pension and steelworkers’ insurance, farmers’ old-age security, and health insurance funds in Germany,” De Quiros said.

A Filipino worker residing in Germany does not have to return to the Philippines to file a claim. The German liaison agency will transmit his claim to its Philippine counterpart institution.

The Philippines has also entered into similar bilateral agreements with Austria, Canada France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, and Spain which are now being implemented. Bilateral agreements with Portugal and Denmark have also been signed and submitted to the Senate for ratification. Salient features of the agreements are consistent with the International Labor Organization conventions.