Before the pandemic, especially during weekends, I used to meet up with some good friends from the insurance industry in a café. While enjoying our brewed coffee, we used to have nice and lively conversations about life and work.
Basically, there’s just a minor distinction between running a pension fund institution and an insurance company, but the great responsibility for both is when the payment has to be made to the legal beneficiaries of the insurance holder or the deceased SSS member.
I remember a prime-time TV drama series years ago, about a 55-year-old wife from the province who was married for 30 years to an electrical engineer. When her husband died in a road accident, she discovered that he had a number of illicit relationships in various cities where he was detailed for long contract assignments. Aside from that, she learned that there were also a number of illegitimate minor children from those relationships. They had two legitimate children. Although it was quite painful on her part, she had no choice but to share her monetary benefits with these innocent minor children that her husband has acknowledged as his while he was still living.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Well, most working people in the Philippines are either members of the Government Service Insurance System or the Social Security System. However, majority of them belong to the latter, and there are certain rules and guidelines to be followed so that payment would be made to the legal SSS beneficiaries. Who are they? Who are qualified to get these benefits?
Under the Social Security Act of 2018 or Republic Act 11199, SSS follows four hierarchy or order of beneficiaries, which is categorized as follows:
- Primary beneficiaries;
- Secondary beneficiaries;
- Designated beneficiaries; and
- Legal heirs.
First are the primary beneficiaries, which are the dependent legal spouse (until he or she remarries) and dependent legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted, and illegitimate children who are unmarried, not gainfully employed and has not reached 21 years of age, or if over 21 years of age, he/she is congenitally or while still a minor, has been permanently incapacitated and incapable of self support, physically or mentally. However, the dependent children come with some provisions, such as that the dependent illegitimate children receive 50 percent of the share of the legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted children, and that in the absence of the member’s legitimate, legitimated or legally adopted children, the dependent illegitimate children will be given 100 percent of the benefits. Whereas, dependent’s pension will be continuously given until they reached 21 years old, unless they are already employed, got married or died.
Second are the secondary beneficiaries, which are the dependent parents of the member. For single and unmarried members, they are the rightful ones to receive the benefits from SSS since there are no primary beneficiaries.
Third, the designated beneficiaries that are written and assigned by the member in his/her SSS records. They may be siblings that are designated before the member’s death. The person designated by the member shall be someone who has a right to claim for support from the deceased member as provided under the Civil Code of the Philippines.
Fourth, are the legal heirs or those entitled to death benefit if no other beneficiary qualifies. They shall be paid in accordance with the law on succession under the Civil Code of the Philippines following the order of priority. Generally, they should have blood relations with the deceased member who may either be a cousin, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew of the member.
But take note that only the primary beneficiaries of the SSS member will receive the monthly pension, whereas the secondary, designated and legal heirs are entitled to lump sum benefits only, as provided under the SS Law.
It is important to know that SSS benefits are not transferable. Say, while the primary beneficiary is alive, it cannot be relegated to the secondary beneficiaries. Knowing our culture, which consists of a large but closely knit family circle, Filipinos will never run out of relatives, so to speak.
While we may have other issues regarding the beneficiaries in complicated and extraordinary relationships, such as same sex partners, we have yet to amend our laws or draft a new one to accommodate and recognize them as legal beneficiaries.
At the end of the day, while we are busy with many affairs, it is best that we secure ourselves as well as our immediate families while we are still alive and able to identify and determine our respective beneficiaries.
Reiterating our constant reminder to all our members, make sure to regularly update your beneficiaries in your SSS records.
It is best to be prepared at all times.
A blessed day to everyone!
Aurora C. Ignacio is SSS president and chief executive officer.
We welcome your questions and insights on the topics that we discuss. E-mail email@example.com for topics that you might want us to discuss.
mam what if my husband is separated with his wife and yet she is already have her family on her own but still not annulled their marriage on the first one. if it’s OK to remove her under the benefeciary of her husband?
What if the primary beneficiary remarries(wife of the deceased).. will the secondary beneficiary(children) can still claim the pension?