Batangas City — The Social Security System (SSS) has covered a total of 167 informal sector groups (ISGs) and associations, representing about 17,895 members in South Luzon under the agency’s AlkanSSSya program as of year-end 2014.

“More agreements with local government units and ISGs are in development with the necessary infrastructures now being put in place. We expect to generate improved collections from the AlkanSSSya program while we extend it across every economically vulnerable sector of the society,” SSS Assistant Vice President for South Luzon Virginia Cruz said.

According to Cruz, the AlkanSSSya program, which enables informal sector workers to save part of their daily income for monthly contributions, has consistently complemented payments from self-employed and voluntary members (SE/VM) in the region, which climbed 14.9 percent from only P1.3 billion in 2013 to P1.4 billion in 2014.

Informal workers, who are covered as self-employed members, paid more than P20 million in contributions last year.

“SSS operations in South Luzon posted double-digit growth in contributions, of which a significant increase in SE/VM payments was observed. Total collections of SSS offices in the region reached P12.4 billion, 13.7 percent higher over 2013’s figure of P10.9 billion,” Cruz said.

SSS likewise registered a rise of 13.6 percent in collections from the employed sector amounting to P10.9 billion or 88 percent of the total.

In 2014, about 132,888 new members are accounted in South Luzon, consisting of 110,772 employees and househelpers, and 22,166 self-employed and voluntary members.

During the same period, three full-service branches were opened to provide more service points to members particularly those residing in Dasmarinas, Cavite; Lemery, Batangas; and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

To date, there are 20 SSS branches, 12 service offices, and 7 representative offices in the region, which are accessible to its now more than 2.3 million members.

As of December last year, SSS has 60 offices in the National Capital Region, 118 in Luzon, 41 in Visayas, and 43 in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, SSS has also announced a modest growth of 5.5 percent in total benefit payments from South Luzon last year, amounting to more than P8.9 billion from P8.5 billion in 2013.

Cruz said more than 80 percent of payments released by SSS in the region went to regular pensions at P7.8 billion.

SSS also paid P27.9 million in lumpsum and initial payments for retirement, P383.5 million for funeral grants, P362 million for maternity, P223.3 million for death, P60.7 million for sickness and medical claims, and P52.3 million for disability.