The Social Security System (SSS) has opened a Service Office (SO) in Tacloban City, one of the hardest-hit areas of the Super Typhoon “Yolanda”, to bring SSS services within reach of the affected residents. The Tacloban SO started accepting SSS transactions on December 2, allowing disaster-stricken members and employers to file their applications for the SSS Calamity Relief Package as well as for SSS benefits, loans and other transactions.

“The SSS Tacloban Branch suffered extensive damage during the onslaught of the typhoon, forcing its operations to a halt. As we work on restoring normal branch operations, the SO will serve the needs of members in Tacloban City and nearby areas for the meantime,” SSS said.

The Tacloban SO is open for business from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. from Mondays to Fridays. It is located within the compound of the SSS branch along the National Highway in Marasbaras, Tacloban City. It complements the services of nearby SSS branches in Catbalogan, Calbayog, Ormoc and Maasin, which are all prepared for the influx of members from Tacloban City.

In the wake of the devastation caused by “Yolanda” in Leyte province and other parts of central Philippines, the SSS offered a Calamity Relief Package that includes, among others, an extended payment deadline for contributions of calamity-stricken employers; various relaxed terms for affected loan borrowers, such as lower interest rates, moratorium on monthly amortizations and waived service fees; advance release of six-month pensions for typhoon-hit pensioners; and the waived P300 replacement fee for applicants of the Unified Multipurpose Identification System (UMID) card.

Services of the Tacloban SO also include issuance of social security (SS) numbers, employer (ER) numbers and SSS Forms; web registration assistance and account resetting; online verification and response to inquiries on contributions, loans, benefits and UMID applications. The SO also receives requests for changes in member and employer data; employers’ reports of newly-hired workers; maternity notifications and funeral benefit applications.

“Availability of SSS services, such as online verification of eligibility and application status, may be limited depending on the strength of Internet connection and telecommunication signal in the area,” SSS said. “Despite this, the SSS will still provide services using available resources.”

The SSS also relaxed its requirements for affected pensioners applying for the advance release of six-month pensions under the relief package. Pensioners whose addresses as recorded in the SSS database are based in a declared calamity area will no longer need to present a certification from their barangay chairman, Department of Social Welfare and Development or National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as proof that the pensioner is affected by the calamity.

“Also, in lieu of the death certificate, beneficiaries of deceased members may file the Certificate of Missing Person believed to be dead in times of disaster from the NDRRMC in filing their benefit claim. The member must be a resident of a declared calamity area whose body remains unrecovered,” SSS said. “The beneficiaries must also submit a notarized undertaking executed by the claimant stating that, in the event that the member re-appears and proven to be alive, the death and funeral benefit must be duly returned to SSS.”