Passengers at the baggage claim section of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport T3 in Pasay City, Manila. For overseas Filipino workers, there's never been a better time to reactivate and keep tabs on their Social Security System (SSS) membership. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Payment of Social Security System (SSS) contributions had just been made easier.

Members, especially overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), can now make full use of the payment reference number (PRN) system adopted by the state-owned pension fund earlier this year. 

Since January 16, 2018, each individual member contribution to the fund is assigned a PRN. Following is our guide on PRN generation: 

[Disclaimer: This is a general guide and updated as often as needed. For specific queries, please refer to an SSS office or representative near you].

1. What is a PRN and why do I need it?

The mandatory use of SSS Payment Reference Number (PRN) was rolled out following the Real-time Posting of Contribution Payments (RTPC) project.

A statement of SSS account with payment reference number.  Gulf News

Every contribution must now have a PRN. Overseas Filipino workers who are SSS members can pay their contributions monthly, quarterly — or annually.

If an OFW opts to remit his or her 12-month social security contributions in one go, he can just go to any of the SSS partner remittance agents which will automatically generate just one PRN for this annual transaction, for next-day posting.

In practice, here's how it may work: For the months of January to December of a given year, an expat Filipino member of SSS can pay within the same year.

Moreover, contributions for the months of October to December of a given year may also be paid on or before the 31st of January of the succeeding year.

Just to be clear, a PRN like the one shown above must be generated (at the SSS branch, consulate or embassy with SSS office or any partner remittance centre overseas) for each payment.

This new PRN system significantly speeds up posting and accounting.

Filipino expatriate workers at a busy remittance shop in Dubai where SSS and Pag-Ibig (Home Mutual Development Fund) staff held an on-site visit to answer specific queries and process transactions of individual members. Courtesy: Julian de Jesus

As soon as you pay, the amount will be posted (or credited) to your account, no matter where you are in the world.

2. I am an OFW and stopped paying my SSS. But now, I want to pay my contributions again. Where can I get my PRN?

There's never been a better or easier time to reactivate your SSS membership. You can generate your PRN in the Philippines — as well remittance centres abroad — or online.

Remember this: you must have a PRN for every SSS payment transaction. 

3. When I'm in the Philippines, how can I get a PRN?

SSS members may get their PRN by calling the PRN Helpline at (+632)920-6446 to 55 or local Toll-free Hotline 1-800-10-2255-777 from Mondays to Fridays. 

SSS members may also get their PRNs from the nearest SSS branch or e-mail their requests and related inquiries to PRNHelpline@sss.gov.ph. 

PRNs are also generated in the My.SSS account of the member.

Tip: If you do go to any SSS branch, ask for the desk or corner where they generate the PRNs (you may find an intern or a college student taking an on-the-job training. The trainer can quickly generate it for you from their system).

4. Where do I get my PRN when I'm abroad?

As mentioned above, if you're a bona-fide SSS member, you may generate PRNs in your My.SSS account. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to my.SSS member registration.

But there's an even easier way. When overseas (such as the UAE), just ask the remittance agent near you: is yousystem linked to the SSS through iRemit, Ventaja and AUB? If the answer is yes, you're in business.

Most remittance centres here are SSS partners. It means they can quickly post your contribution to your SSS account or membership number. 

Just make sure you have your SSS details (SSS ID number or UMID) when you're ready with the contributions.

5. In the UAE, which remittance agents can help me get a PRN? 

A Filipina walks out of a remittance centre Satwa, Dubai. The SSS uses clearing platforms such as iRemit, Ventaja and AUB for instant, or next-day credit to members' account. Courtesy: Julian de Jesus

Just visit one of the SSS-linked remittance centres (like UAE Exchange, Al Ghurair Exchange, Orient Exchange, Al Rostamani, etc) or any agent connected to the SSS payments gateway.

Connectivity has been made easier through the iRemit, Ventaja and AUB remittance platforms. What's great is that these portals allow for next-minute credit of your SSS payments to your account.

6. Can my spouse pay for me? 

Yes, as long as your spouse has your details. But see details above.

7. How much should I pay?

Monthly contributions depend on your salary bracket.

But in general, use the schedule below as guide. However, we encourage you to pay the maximum monthly copntribution — Php1,760 (about $33) per month or Php21,120 per year — as it entitles you to invest the extra amount in increments of Php200 to your OFW Flexi Fund account

Make sure you've filled up the Flexi Fund application first and read the instructions. Download the Flexi Fund application form and instructions

7. As an OFW, can I pay for my SSS contributions for the entire year?

Yes. You may pay at the end of August 2018, for example, for the entire year's contribution from January 2018 to December 2018 in one go.

Your payment for the October-December quarter of the current year can also be accepted until January 31 of the following year.

8. What is iRemit/Ventaja/AUB remittance platform?

These are the leading payment platforms linking government agncies and OFWs, specificall for quick payment portals. I-Remit is a Manila-registered company engaged in the business of servicing OFW remittance needs. The key iRemit to the SSS network and remittance agents overseas is the iRemit Direct Online Remittance System (iDOL). 

These platforms are authorized by various Philippine government agencies such as Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF or Pag-IBIG) to collect savings contributions of OFWs. 

9. Can these platforms be hacked or face downtime?

Any online platform can be targetted by hackers. There are also white-hat hackers whose job it is to constantly find holes in the system through "penetration tests."

Enough safeguards had been put in place by their operators as well as the government agencies using them to secure transactions.

And as long as you have receipts (bearing the PRNs) for your payments, your funds are secured.

As a state-guaranteed fund, SSS funds are secured by the state, which means it's guaranteed by Filipino tax-payers even if, in the unlikely case of gross mismanagement, leads it to the brink of insolvency or bankruptcy.

And so far, during its 64 year history, SSS never needed any government bailout, or reneged on payment for what's due to members.

[Information provided by SSS Dubai Representative as of August 15, 2018.]