A client, who looked hesitant to ask, stood in front of me. I took the initiative to ask if he has any legal inquiries. I motioned him to take his seat but he refused, saying he just wanted to ask one question. He asked, “Kung sakaling mamatay ako anytime soon, pwede po bang maging GSIS beneficiary yung kinakasama ko ngayon?” He meant that the “kinakasama ngayon” is not his legal wife.
I directly answered him in the negative. Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8291 or the Government Service Insurance Act of 1997 enumerates who are the qualified beneficiaries of its members. The primary beneficiaries are the legal dependent spouse and the dependent children, if there are any. A legal spouse is one who is legally married in accordance with the law unless he/she remarries. The mistress or the paramour has no right to receive the benefits which are legally provided to the dependent beneficiaries.
GSIS gives a number of benefits to all government employees including insurance, pension, retirement, funeral and death benefits, etc. If you are not the legal wife or husband, you will be disqualified to claim the benefits.
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION VS. EDNA A. AZOTE
G.R. No. 209741, April 15, 2015
Edna and Edgardo were married on June 19, 1992. Edgardo submitted his E-4 Form designating his wife Edna and their children as beneficiaries. On January 13, 2005, Edgardo passed away. Hence, Edna went to SSS to claim for benefits. It was discovered however that Edgardo submitted another Form E-4 on November 5, 1982 with a different set of beneficiaries, Rosemarie as his wife and Elmer as his son. Because of that, Edna’s claim was denied.
Is Edna entitled to the benefits?
No. According to the Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8282 or the Law on Social Security System, Section 8 (e) and (k) thereof expressly provides who would be entitled to receive benefits from its deceased-member. This includes “Dependents”. The dependents shall include the legal spouse entitled by law to receive support from the member”
Applying Section 8(e) and (k) of R. A. No. 8282, it is clear that only the legal spouse of the deceased-member is qualified to be the beneficiary of the latter’s SS benefits. In this case, there is a concrete proof that Edgardo contracted an earlier marriage with another individual as evidenced by their marriage contract. Edgardo even acknowledged his married status when he filled out the 1982 Form E-4 designating Rosemarie as his spouse.
Settled is the rule that “whoever claims entitlement to the benefits provided by law should establish his or her right thereto by substantial evidence.” Edna could not adduce evidence to prove that the earlier marriage of Edgardo with Rosemarie was either annulled or dissolved or whether there was a declaration of Rosemarie’s presumptive death before her marriage to Edgardo. What is apparent is that Edna was the second wife of Edgardo.
The existence of two Form E-4s designating, on two different dates, two different women as his spouse is already an indication that only one of them can be the legal spouse. As can be gleaned from the certification issued by the NSO, there is no doubt that Edgardo married Rosemarie in 1982. Edna cannot be considered as the legal spouse of Edgardo as their marriage took place during the existence of a previously contracted marriage. For said reason, the denial of Edna’s claim by the SSC was correct.
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION VS. EDNA A. AZOTE
G.R.No. 170195, March 28, 2011
Teresa Favila and Florante Favila got married in 1970. Florante designated his wife and his children as her beneficiaries in his SSS. When Florante died on February 1, 1997, Teresa filed her claim for SSS benefits. However, her claim was later denied. Estrelita, the sister of Floranted, averred that her brother had long been separated from Teresa because the latter had an affair with another man after her separation from Florante.
Is Teresa a primary beneficiary in contemplation of the SS Law as to be entitled to death benefits accruing from the death of Florante?
No. According to the SS Law, the surviving spouse’s entitlement to an SSS member’s death benefits is dependent on two factors which must concur at the time of the latter’s death, to wit: (1) legality of the marital relationship; and (2) dependency for support.
Section 8 (e) and (k) of RA 1161 provides:
(k) Beneficiaries – The dependent spouse until he remarries and dependent children, who shall be the primary beneficiaries. In their absence, the dependent parents and, subject to the restrictions imposed on dependent children, the legitimate descendants and illegitimate children who shall be the secondary beneficiaries. In the absence of any of the foregoing, any other person designated by the covered employee as secondary beneficiary.
Here, there is no question that Teresa is the legal wife. What is at point, however, is whether Teresa is dependent upon Florante for support in order for her to fall under the term “dependent spouse” under Section 8(k) of RA 1161.
The SC ruled that Teresa did not satisfy the second element of dependency for support. The SC defined “dependent” as “one who derives his or her main support from another [or] relying on, or subject to, someone else for support; not able to exist or sustain oneself, or to perform anything without the will, power or aid of someone else.”
Teresa relied on the presumption of dependency by reason of her valid and then subsisting marriage with Florante. Aside from that, she has not presented sufficient evidence to discharge her burden of proving that she was dependent upon her husband for support at the time of his death. She could have done this by submitting affidavits of reputable and disinterested persons who have knowledge that during her separation with Florante, she does not have a known trade, business, profession or lawful occupation from which she derives income sufficient for her support and such other evidence tending to prove her claim of dependency. Suffice it to say that “[w]hoever claims entitlement to the benefits provided by law should establish his or her right thereto by substantial evidence.” Hence, for Teresa’s failure to show that despite their separation she was dependent upon Florante for support at the time of his death, Teresa cannot qualify as a primary beneficiary. Hence, she is not entitled to the death benefits accruing on account of Florante’s death.
Note: The denial of Teresa’s claim for benefits is not because she had an affair with another man. The claim that Teresa had a cohabitation was a mere allegation without proof. Again, it was because she did not satisfy the second element of dependency for support.
Discussions in this category may vary on a case to case basis. Any information or opinion expressed is for educational purposes only. The discussions below do not establish an attorney-client relationship. The author shall not be responsible for any action or damages resulting from or related to whatever use of the information ABOVE.
The Backpacking Lawyer is a practicing lawyer and a nurse by profession in the Philippines. While she enjoys her day job, she loves traveling and sharing her adventures and misadventures with you.