BUTUAN CITY — The Social Security System (SSS) collected a total of P4.76 billion in contributions from members in Visayas and Mindanao from January to March 2013, up by nine percent from its P4.35-billion collection during the same period in 2012. This was disclosed by SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. during a “Kapihan sa SSS” with members of the local press.

De Quiros, who was in Northern Mindanao for the formal launch of SSS partnerships with two informal sector groups as well as meet with employers and members in the area, said collections in this region also grew by five percent for a total of P704.25 million.

“Our accomplishments in Visayas and Mindanao, as well as in Northern Mindanao, are in step with overall SSS performance during the first quarter, which is characterized by higher contribution collections complemented by improved management of benefits,” he said. Vis-Min benefit payments for January to March 2013 amounted to P5.4 billion, of which P4.83 billion were for retirement, death and disability benefits; P205.11 million in maternity benefits; P258.83 million in funeral grants; and P101.87 million for sickness, medical services and rehabilitation.

“Total benefit payments in Vis-Min decreased by four percent compared with the P5.6 billion total for the first quarter of 2012. For Northern Mindanao, benefit disbursements slightly rose by one percent this year to P833.2 million,” de Quiros said.

The SSS enhanced its Annual Confirmation of Pensioners (ACOP) program in 2012 to ensure that only rightful beneficiaries receive SSS pensions. Early this year, the agency further improved the ACOP by basing the compliance date on the member’s birth month to help pensioners remember their annual schedule for confirming their continued eligibility for pension.

The “AlkanSSSyamicrosavings program and accreditation of organized groups as collecting and servicing partner agents helped bolster the pension fund’s efforts to widen SSS coverage and encourage more workers to save for retirement through active SSS membership.

“We have stepped up our campaign to reach out to workers in Northern Mindanao, with the AlkanSSSya launch for the Magallanes Cabadbaran Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association on June 7. We will also sign an agreement on the same day with the Baug CARP Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative for the SSS coverage of over 6,800 farmers,” he said.

The SSS North Mindanao division office is located in Cagayan de Oro City. The SSS also has offices in Butuan, Cabadbaran, Camiguin, Gingoog, Iligan, Oroquieta, Ozamis, San Francisco, Surigao, Tandag, Trento and Valencia to serve over 49,700 employers and nearly 1.5 million registered members in the region.