CLARK, PAMPANGA — The Social Security System (SSS) has urged members in Central Luzon, especially company employees and those with work schedules that fall on weekdays, to capitalize on the advantages of the special Saturday schedule of SSS branches.

SSS Vice President of Public Affairs and Special Events Division Marissu Bugante said all 132 SSS branches nationwide, 17 of which are in Central Luzon, are open for business every Saturday, starting last October 26, to widen access of members to SSS services.

“Members visiting our branches on Saturdays can conduct transactions such as benefit claims and loans, application for the UMID (Unified Multi-purpose Identification System) card, and over-the-counter contribution payments. This spares many of our members from having to file a leave from work to go to SSS,” said Bugante, who attended the media forum held today at the Clark Freeport Zone.

Also in attendance during the event were SSS Assistant Vice President for Luzon Central Division Vilma Agapito, SSS Pampanga Branch Head Corita Gaduang and SSS Angeles Branch Officer-in-Charge Elenita Clemente.

Bugante said the SSS operates two division offices in Central Luzon —- one in Tarlac (Luzon Central 1), and another in Pampanga (Luzon Central 2). The Luzon Central 1 Division supervises 10 SSS branches in Alaminos, Balanga, Baler, Cabanatuan, Camiling, Dagupan, Iba, Mariveles-Bataan Economic Processing Zone (BEPZ), Tarlac and Urdaneta.

Meanwhile, the seven branches under Luzon Central 2 include SSS Angeles, Baliuag, Malolos, Meycauayan, Olongapo, Pampanga and Sta. Maria. To provide greater convenience to members, SSS has also set up 12 Service Offices across Central Luzon, eight of which are located at municipal halls and are open on weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm.

“Apart from SSS branches, transactions during the weekend are also accepted at four mall-based SSS Service Offices in Central Luzon, namely: Robinsons Starmills in Pampanga, Robinsons Luisita in Tarlac, and at Waltermart Sta. Maria and Star Mall-San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan,” Bugante said. “These mall-based Service Offices serve members from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 am to 7 pm.”

About 1.26 million company and household employees account for 67 percent of the 1.88 million SSS members in Central Luzon. Nearly 423,000 members in the region are self-employed, while 197,000 are voluntary members.

Contribution collections in Central Luzon reached P2.35 billion from January to August 2013, up by 14 percent from the P2.06 billion eight-month collection in 2012. Benefit releases over the same period totaled P4.79 billion, with regular pensions for retirement, death and disability amounting to P4.08 billion, or 85 percent of the total benefit disbursements, Bugante added.