A letter writer, Mrs. V, was the legal wife of Social Security System (SSS) member Pedro, who died three years ago. She had been receiving the death pension for three years when it was stopped by the SSS, after a contesting death claim was filed by Ms. A., Pedro’s common-law wife, with whom he had two illegitimate children. Mrs. V would like to know why her pension was stopped, and why should the pension for illegitimate children be taken from her pension as the primary beneficiary.
In response to Mrs. V’s query, it should be pointed out that the suspension of her pension was just temporary, as the SSS had to readjust her pension benefit to take into account Pedro’s two illegitimate children, who are still minors. According to the social-security law, a member’s primary beneficiaries are the legal spouse and the minor children, whether legitimate, illegitimate or legally adopted.
When Mrs. V’s death-benefit claim was originally approved, there were no claims coming from the common-law wife. Thus, Mrs. V received the whole death pension. However, with two minor illegitimate children now contesting the death claim, the SSS determined that they also have a right to the pension benefit.
In order to recover the amount that should have gone to the two minor children since their father’s death, the pension benefit to Mrs. V was temporarily stopped. As soon as the children’s share had been recovered and paid to them, Mrs. V’s share of the pension will then be paid.
Meantime, the two minor children will continue to receive their share of the death-benefit pension until they reach their 21st birthday. Once the younger child turns 21 years of age, Mrs. V will once again receive the whole death-benefit pension.
The SSS death benefit of the legal spouse is a lifetime pension, unless the surviving spouse remarries or cohabits with someone else. In this case, the surviving spouse is no longer qualified to receive the benefit.
Last week this column discussed the increase in funeral benefit, which, effective August 1, 2015, shall range from P20,000 to P40,000. The new funeral benefit consists of the fix amount of P20,000, plus 0.5 percent (not 5 percent as written previously) of the product of the total contributions times the average monthly salary credit.
For more information about the SSS and its programs, call our 24-hour call center at (632) 920-6446 to 55, Monday to Friday, or send an e-mail to [email protected]
Susie G. Bugante is the vice president for public affairs and special events of the Social Security System. Send comments about this column to [email protected]