May I ask what benefits will the primary beneficiaries of a deceased SSS member get? If there are illegitimate children and second spouse, will they also be entitled to the same benefits?
Under the law, the primary beneficiaries of a deceased SSS member, that includes dependent spouse and children, are entitled to receive death benefits, which may either be in the form of a monthly pension or lump sum amount depending on the number of monthly contributions the deceased member was able to make. If the deceased member made at least thirty-six (36) monthly contributions prior to the semester of death, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a monthly pension. If he has not paid the required thirty-six (36) monthly contributions, his primary or secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to the monthly pension times the number of monthly contributions paid to the SSS or twelve (12) times the monthly pension, whichever is higher (Section 13, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8282). In case the monthly pension is applicable, the amount due shall be the highest among:
1. The sum of P300 plus 20 percent of the average monthly salary credit plus two percent of the average monthly salary credit for each credited year of service (CYS) in excess of 10 years; or
2. 40 percent of the average monthly salary credit; or
3. P1,000 if the member had less than 10 credited years of service (CYS); P1,200 if with at least 10 CYS; or P2,400 if with at least 20 CYS. (https://www.sss.gov.ph/sss/index2.jsp?secid=77&cat=4&pg=null, last accessed on December 3, 2013)
In addition to the monthly pension, a dependent’s pension is also due equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the monthly pension or Two hundred fifty pesos (P250.00), whichever is higher, for each dependent child to be paid in accordance with the following rules:
1. The child must be conceived on or before the date of death;
2. At most, only 5 dependent children may claim, beginning with the youngest and without substitution;
3. Legitimate children are preferred over illegitimate children (Sec. 12-A, R.A. No. 8282).
But not all spouses or children, whether legitimate or illegitimate, are primary beneficiaries of a deceased SSS member. Under the law, to qualify as 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). Note that the law uses the term legal spouse, which means that there must be a valid marriage between the surviving spouse and the deceased SSS member. Further, the law does not distinguish whether the spouse is the first or other. What is important is that he or she is the legal spouse and dependent on the deceased. Nevertheless, a dependent spouse is only qualified until he or she remarries (Sec. 8 (k), R.A. No. 8282).
As to a child, he or she must be unmarried, not gainfully employed and has not reached twenty one (21) years of age, or if over twenty one (21) years of age, he is congenitally or while still a minor has been permanently incapacitated and incapable of self-support, physically or mentally to qualify as a primary beneficiary (Sec. 8 (e), R.A. No. 8282). The same qualification applies to legitimate and illegitimate children.
However, if both legitimate and illegitimate concur as qualified primary beneficiaries, the illegitimate children shall receive only 50% of the share of the legitimate.
From the foregoing, it is possible that the second spouse and illegitimate children have a claim on the SSS death benefit of a deceased member as long as they pass the qualifications set by law.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
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