The Social Security System (SSS) has announced a new Calamity Relief Package that offers preferential terms for salary and house repair loans and the advance release of three-month pensions for members and pensioners affected by Tropical Depression “Agaton.”

SSS Vice President May Catherine Ciriaco, Officer-in-Charge of Lending and Asset Management, said all areas declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under a state of calamity due to the effects of “Agaton” shall be covered by the assistance package.

“SSS decided to open the availment of our various programs offering relief given the considerable damage to lives and property caused by ‘Agaton’ in southern Philippines,” Ciriaco said. “The SSS relief package will provide immediate access to funds needed for food, health care and other necessities, while members with damaged homes can have them repaired at affordable loan terms.”

Declared calamity areas due to “Agaton” include Lanao del Norte and Agusan del Norte provinces and Iligan, Butuan, Bislig and Tagum cities. Municipalities left in a state of calamity were Kapalong, Carmen, Asuncion and New Corella in Davao del Norte; Tarragona, Manay, Caraga, Baganga, Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental; Sta. Josefa, Sibagat, Bunawan, San Francisco, Esperanza, Veruela, Trento, Rosario and Loreto in Agusan del Sur; and Lianga, Tago and San Miguel in Surigao del Sur.

Pensioners residing in declared calamity areas may file their application for the three-month advance pensions at any SSS branch on or before April 30, 2014. Partial disability pensioners may apply for advance pension for the remaining months of their benefit, but not to exceed the three-month period.

Ciriaco said pensioners shall submit an accomplished application form duly certified by the Barangay Chairman, or attach to the form a certification of their residence in a declared calamity area from the Barangay Chairman, Department of Social Welfare and Development or NDRRMC.

“If the pensioner’s given address, which should be within an area declared in a state of calamity by NDRRMC, is the same as that in our database, the application for advance pension shall be accepted even without any of the required certification,” she explained.

Existing borrowers in the declared calamity areas will benefit from the Salary Loan Early Renewal Program (SLERP), which enables them to renew their salary loans ahead of the allowed schedule under the regular loan guidelines. The SSS will also waive the one-percent service fee charged on salary loan applications, both for new and renewed loans, to further help the affected members.

Ciriaco added that affected members can also avail themselves of the waived processing fee and reduced six percent annual interest rate of the Direct House Repair and Improvement Loans of up to P1 million. In its Situation Report dated January 28, the NDRMMC noted that nearly 2,900 houses were either partially or totally damaged by “Agaton.”

“The deadline of salary loan and SLERP availments under the relief package for ‘Agaton’ is on April 30, 2014. Eligible borrowers for our special house repair loans have one year from issuance of the corresponding SSS Circular to prepare the requirements and file their applications,” she said.

Application forms are available at SSS branches or may be downloaded from the SSS Website (www.sss.gov.ph). For queries, members and pensioners can contact the SSS Call Center at 920-6446 to 55, or send an email to member_relations@sss.gov.ph.