The Social Security System (SSS) has launched an assistance package to help members in conflict-affected areas in Zamboanga City recover from the losses caused by the strife, a top official said.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros Jr said affected members can avail themselves of the package consisting of salary loans, house repair and improvement loans with reduced annual interest rate, and advance monthly pensions.

“We hope to help relieve some of the burden of our members who are presently compromised and troubled by the unfortunate situation in Zamboanga City through some form of assistance that they can use to start anew,” De Quiros said.

The assistance package includes the Salary Loan Early Renewal Program (SLERP), which allows members to renew their salary loans earlier than the prescribed date of one year after the release of their existing loans. In addition, the SSS also provides the lifting of sanctions imposed on borrowers in affected areas who availed of the agency’s Loan Penalty Condonation Program.

“The SSS will also waive the service fee of one-percent on new salary loans of affected members. The same eligibility requirements, interest rate and repayment terms on salary loans will apply,” De Quiros said.

Members receiving pensions for retirement and disability, and survivor pensioners may also get in advance their three month’s worth of pensions under the SSS assistance package. Their regular pensions will automatically resume right after the three-month period covered by the advance payments.

“Affected pensioners must submit an application form certified by their respective Barangay Chairman or a certification from the Barangay Chairman attesting their residency in the conflict-affected area.” De Quiros said

In the absence of regular postal services in Zamboanga City, the SSS Chief stressed that the generated checks for benefit and salary loan may be sent to its SSS Zamboanga City branch or to an SSS-designated location, where member-borrowers can safely claim their checks.

The deadline of applications for the SLERP and advance release of pensions is on October 31, 2013.

Aside from the SLERP and three-month advance pensions, the SSS has also reduced the interest rates for the SSS Direct House Repair and Improvement Loan to six-percent per annum for any amount that will be applied for under this type of loan.

“We will accept applications for house repair and improvement loans up to one year after the date of issuance of the SSS Circular,” De Quiros said.

He added that the loan must be solely used for house repair and improvement, which is payable in multiples of five years with a maximum of 20 years.

“Applicants must not be more than 60 years old and have at least 24 monthly contributions of which three are posted within 12 months prior to the month of filing of the application.” De Quiros said.

The state-pension fund has previously opened a similar relief package to members who were affected by typhoons “Maring” and “Labuyo” that hit parts of Luzon last August.