THE Social Security System (SSS) said Friday that it will no longer use checks to disburse benefits and will release payouts through accredited banks.

According to SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio, the lump sum disability, death and retirement benefits including emoloyees’ compensation disability benefit will now be “mandatorily” released through 67 SSS-accredited banks. The bank disbursements started Friday last week.

The member or claimant will have to present a bank document to the agency such as a savings account passbook, ATM card with name and account number, validated initial deposit slip or copy of bank certificate or statement or an accomplished Visa cash card enrollment form, the SSS said in a statement.

Ms. Ignacio added that EMV-chip enabled Unified Multi-purpose Identification (UMID) cards, enrolled as an ATM card, can also be used.

For those with no savings accounts, the SSS said it can issue a letter of introduction to help them apply for an account with an accredited bank.

“This improvement allows the SSS to efficiently and safely administer the payment of benefits to its members and their rightful beneficiaries,” Ms. Ignacio said.

However, the pension fund said some exemptions from the check-less disbursement system apply, include “cases whenre the address of the member or claimant is beyond 30 kilometers to the nearest SSS-accredited bank or in a high-risk area where peace and order is unstable due to the presence of armed conflict,” it said.

Exemptions also apply to benefits below P1,000, the beneficiary’s institutionalization at a “penitentiary, correctional institute or rehabilitation center,” those physically incapable to transact with banks, and in cases where there are multiple legal heirs as claimants.

It said the 67 accredited banks include Asia United Bank Corp., Bank of the Philippine Islands, China Banking Corp., Development Bank of the Philippines, EastWest Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., Philippine National Bank, Philippine Veterans Bank, RCBC Savings Bank, Security Bank and Trust Co., and Union Bank of the Philippines.

“The program has been really effective since its implementation. It is more convenient for our members since they do not have to wait for or get their checks and personally encash it with the assigned bank. They’ll just have to wait for their benefits to be credited to their respective accounts and withdraw whenever they need it,” Ms. Ignacio said. — Beatrice M. Laforga