My wife died last month. I am planning to file a pension claim with the SSS, but I am not sure if I am qualified. I was informed that I am not qualified because we got married after she retired. What does the law say in my case?
Based on the law, the primary beneficiaries of a deceased Social Security System (SSS) member as of the date of his retirement shall be entitled to receive the monthly pension (Section 12-B, Republic Act [R.A.] No. 8282). This means that the law restricts the term primary beneficiaries to those persons who became such before the concerned SSS member retired. In the case of a spouse, this means that the person must have been married to the SSS member before the latter’s retirement.
However, the Supreme Court struck down this restriction imposed by the SSS Law in the case of Dycaico vs. SSS (476 SCRA 538). According to the Supreme Court, there is no substantial distinction between a spouse married before retirement of the member and one married after to warrant a different treatment on the two groups and that such classification bears no relation to achieve the objective of the law, which is to provide meaningful protection to members and their beneficiaries against the hazard of disability, sickness, maternity, old age, death and other contingencies. Moreover, automatic disqualification of a person married after the retirement of the SSS member deprives the surviving spouse to pension, which is a vested right, without providing an opportunity to present her side. Hence, the provision which limits the primary beneficiaries to those who became such before the SSS member retires violates both the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution, and is therefore, unconstitutional (Ibid.)
On the basis of this pronouncement by the highest court in our land, it is not true that you are automatically disqualified from claiming SSS pension just because you got married to your spouse after she retired. As a legal spouse, you may file a claim for pension with the SSS.
Nevertheless, please bear in mind that the law likewise mandates that to be considered a beneficiary, the spouse and/or children must be dependent on the deceased member. A legal spouse is said to be dependent if he or she is entitled by law to receive support from the deceased member (Sec. 8 (e), R.A. No. 8282). Thus, in filing your claim with the SSS, you must both establish that you are the legal spouse, and that you are dependent or entitled to receive support from your deceased wife.
We hope we were able to fully address your concern. Please be informed that this opinion is based on the facts you presented and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary if facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com