A question is raised by the siblings of a deceased member who dies single and without issue–who gets the SSS benefits accruing to their brother/sister’s death?
As discussed in my first column, if a married member dies, his primary beneficiaries are his wife and children below 21 years old. Children as contemplated under the SS Act would include even the illegitimate children. So there are instances when the wife who has no children with the member or whose children have already reached 21 years old, would receive pension benefits together with the illegitimate children. I will try to explain that further in subsequent writings as this is also contentious and obnoxious to many legitimate spouses. We have to allot enough time to explain the uniqueness of the SS Law.
Meantime, what happens to the SSS benefits if the member is unmarried? Who gets paid?
We must understand the concept of a secondary beneficiary under RA 8282. Section 9 of RA 8282 provides the order of preference of beneficiaries:
“(k) Beneficiaries ‐ The dependent spouse until he or she remarries, the dependent legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted, and illegitimate children, who shall be the primary beneficiaries of the member: Provided, That the dependent illegitimate children shall be entitled to fifty percent (50%) the share of the legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted children: Provided, further, That in the absence of the dependent legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted children of the member, his/her dependent illegitimate children shall be entitled to one hundred percent (100%) of the benefits. In their absence, the dependent parents who shall be the secondary beneficiaries of the member. x x x
I must emphasize, absent the primary beneficiaries, the secondary beneficiaries are the parents. It is clear then, the siblings should not fight over the benefits due to secondary beneficiaries as this could only pertain to their parents if any or both are alive. As it is made obvious, the rules on succession under the Civil Code or the order of preference in insurance claims are not applicable to SS beneficiaries.
What if the member dies with a common law spouse? Should she not enjoy the benefits and be preferred over the deceased member’s parents?
Unfortunately, the law is clear on this, only a legal and dependent spouse can be considered a primary beneficiary. Regardless of their years of cohabitation, the common law spouse remains to be not the legal spouse. But their illegitimate children who are below 21 years old are entitled as primary beneficiaries.
Going back to our secondary beneficiaries, how much will the parents receive and for how long will they get paid? The provision that says so is:
“SEC. 13. Death Benefits. ‐ 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. 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.
This has to be stressed, the pension benefits could only be applicable to qualified primary beneficiaries of the deceased member who has paid at least 36 months. The parents as secondary beneficiaries as well as all other beneficiaries of the SSS can only receive a lump sum benefit. For how much? It will depend on the contributions paid. This is one of the circumstances where “the more the better” applies. So keep on remitting your contributions if you are self-employed or voluntarily paying or be vigilant over your employer’s remittance if you are employed.
For legal questions on your SSS benefits, claims, or obligations, please feel free to visit the Legal Department of SSS Luzon North I or write us through the Herald Express.
Next Week: Designated Beneficiaries