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Undocumented OFWs also eligible for SSS membership

07 March 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

Perhaps unknown to most Filipinos, TNTs (tago nang tago or illegal immigrants) and undocumented OFWs can still become bona fide Social Security System members eligible for pension and other benefits when they return home.

That’s if they enroll as self-employed members in the state-run pension fund for private-sector workers, an SSS officer at the Consulate has told The SUN.

“The only requirement is their (applicants’) birth certificates or passports, whichever is available,” Rhea Balicas, SSS representative in Hong Kong, said.

Balicas, who moved to Hong Kong in August last year from the regional office in Iloilo, said she had noticed an increase in the number of OFWs in Hong Kong reactivating their dormant membership in SSS since the middle of January.

She explained that undocumented workers who apply for membership now would also be covered by all benefits accruing to other members when they return to the Philippines.
Balicas had been assigned to oversee the pension fund’s Macau operations in addition to her job in the SSS Hong Kong office at the Consulate.

She estimated that there are about 45,000 Filipinos working legally in Macau, mostly in the enclave’s hotel and gaming industry. Several thousand more of undocumented OFWs are also working in the same industry or in households as domestic helpers.

To serve the Filipinos in Macau, SSS has posted a staff member at the Philippine  Consulate there. But Balicas said she expects to make regular weekend trips there to help attend to the needs of clients, and to encourage more OFWs to sign up for membership, or inactive members to reactivate their accounts so they could get full benefits.

Balicas cited her father’s experience as example of the importance of being fully covered by SSS. “My father, 25 years siyang OFW sa Middle East. Pinabayaan din ng papa ko yung Pag-IBIG niya at yung SSS niya, talagang wala. But later on,  siguro noong malapit na siyang mag-60, mga 50 something, na-realize niya na, ‘Uy! Meron palang ganito.’ ‘Yun nga, itinuloy niya ang SSS niya,” Balias said. Now her father has retired and is receiving a monthly pension. 
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