Farmers, fisherfolk urged to secure SSS coverage

The Social Security System wants farmers, fisherfolk, and other self-employed persons in the informal economy to register with SSS and pay contributions under a new and more flexible schedule.

“They are among the most vulnerable members of our society. By offering them a flexible way of paying SSS premiums, we provide them greater opportunity to pay social security contributions for all months of a year for full protection through various benefit and loan programs,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Regino said.

The new contribution payment scheme would allow farmers, fisherfolk, and other self-employed individuals in the informal economy to pay contributions for any of the last 12 months in the current month, he added.

Moreover, Regino said that if a farmer pays his SSS contributions on 28 October 2022, under the new program, he can still pay his monthly contributions in the past 12 months before October 2022 or from October 2021 to September 2022.

Under the existing payment deadline of remittances, self-employed members such as farmers and fisherfolk who will pay their contributions on 31 October 2022 can only pay their monthly contributions for July to September 2022, the social security chief said.

“We saw that the current payment schedule for self-employed members, which also includes farmers and fisherfolk, is not suitable for them,” Regino said.

He also explained that the SSS has set a new contribution payment scheme aligned with the harvesting seasons of farmers and fisherfolks.

Based on a study by SSS, farmers and fisherfolk usually have two harvesting seasons in a year and about four to five lean months.

“Our farmers and fisherfolk do not have a regular monthly income from their produce, unlike ordinary workers. They only get their earnings on a seasonal basis, so we devised this scheme that allows them to pay their SSS contributions for all months in a year,” Regino said.

He added that self-employed SSS members are entitled to social security benefits such as sickness, maternity, retirement, disability, funeral, and death. They also qualify for loan programs, including salary, calamity, and educational assistance.

Besides SSS coverage, Regino said self-employed members have additional coverage from the Employees’ Compensation Program for work-related contingencies.

He said they could pay their SSS contributions through digital payment platforms such as the SSS Mobile App, Bayad, GCash mobile apps, and ShopeePay.

“They also have the option to pay through the internet banking facility of the Security Bank and Union Bank of the Philippines as long as they have an existing deposit account with those banks,” said Regino.

Latest Philippine Statistics Authority data show that the country has 9.4 million self-employed skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers. Of these workers, Regino said only some 636,000 are registered with the SSS.

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