While our annulment case was on process, my husband died accidentally. We have been separated for years. While he was living with his mistress when he was still alive, I was the only one who supported our child. I just want to know if I am entitled to SSS death benefits/pension as well as our child. I am still supporting our child. He is attending school, and still lives with me. Please help me with my concern.
The Social Security System (SSS) provides benefits to its qualified members. Among these are sickness benefits, maternity benefits, disability benefits and retirement benefits. The SSS also provides benefits to qualified beneficiaries of its members, among these are the death benefits.
It is explicitly mentioned under Section 13 of Republic Act (RA) 8282, or the Social Security Law, that: “Upon the death of a member who has paid at least thirty-six (36) monthly contributions prior to the semester of death, his primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to the monthly pension:
Provided, That if he has no primary beneficiaries, his secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to a lump sum benefit equivalent to thirty-six (36) times the monthly pension. x x x” The computation of the monthly pension and the dependents’ pension are respectively provided under Section 12 and Section 12-A of RA 8282.
The law provides a definition of the term “primary beneficiaries” as “[t]he dependent spouse until he or she remarries, the dependent legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted, and illegitimate children.” (Section 8(k), Id.) The term “dependent children” is further defined as those who are unmarried, not gainfully employed and has not reached twenty-one years of age, or if over twenty-one years of age, he or she is congenitally or while still a minor has been permanently incapacitated and incapable of self-support, physically or mentally. (Section 8 (e) (2), Id.)
Taking these into consideration, we believe that there might be some difficulties on your part in availing the death benefits from the SSS. Based on the facts that you have shared with us, it cannot be gainsaid that you fall within the category of a qualified beneficiary spouse. You mentioned it yourself that you have been separated from him for several years as he was living with his mistress when he was still alive, and that you were not dependent on him for support during his lifetime. These facts negate the qualifications mentioned under the law.
Insofar as your child is concerned, the fact that his late father did not support him prior to his death is immaterial as the law does not require dependence of the child on the concerned SSS member. Nevertheless, your child can only avail of the pension from SSS if he is unmarried, not gainfully employed and has not reached twenty-one years of age. If your child is beyond twenty-one years old, he may still avail of the pension if he has such congenital or permanent disability.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other 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