Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Social Security System (SSS) vs. Aguas

Facts: Pablo Aguas, SSS pensioner, died on December 8, 1996. His surviving spouse Rosanna Aguas filed a claim with the SSS for death benefits. In her claim, Rosanna indicated that Pablo was survived by his minor child Jeylnn. Her claim was approved on February 13, 1997. 

In April 1997, deceased sister, Leticia Aguas-Macapinlac contested Rosanna’s claim, saying that Rosanna abandoned the family abode about 6 years earlier and that she was living with another man. Leticia further alleged that Pablo did not have any children with Rosanna but Rosanna had several children with a certain Romeo dela Pena. SSS suspended the payment of the pension and conducted an investigation. The investigation confirmed that Pablo did not have any children with Rosanna and that Pablo was incapable of having children based on the certification of Dr. Manuel Macapinlac that Pablo was infertile. 

It was on this ground that the SSS denied Rosanna’s request to resume payment and ordered Rosanna to refund to SSS the Php10,350.00 death benefits already released to her and Jeylnn. 

When Rosanna filed a petition with the Social Security Commission, Janet H. Aguas also claiming to be a child of the deceased, joined Rosanna and Jeylnn as claimants. As proof, the petition included a photocopy of Jeylnn and Janet’s certificates of live birth. SSS denied their claims but decided to conduct hearings. During the hearings, the SSC found sufficient proof that Rosanna contracted marriage with Romeo dela Pena while still being married to Pablo; that Rosanna had a child with Romeo dela Pena while still married to Pablo (as evidenced by the baptismal certificate presented to the court for Jenelyn H. dela Pena showing that the showing that she was the child of Rosanna Hernandez and Romeo dela Pena) 

The SSC ruled that because of her adultery, Rosanna was no longer entitled to support from Pablo. As for Jeylnn, the SCC ruled that Jeylnn was not Pablo’s legitimate child, even if her birth certificate was signed by Pablo. The SSC deduced from the records that Jeylnn and Jenelyn was one and the same person. Janet on the other hand was only adopted by Pablo and Rosanna but with no legal papers. 

The Court of Appeals reversed the ruling based on the birth certificates of Janet and Jeylnn showing that they were children of the deceased. 

Issue: Whether or not the petitioners may be considered primary beneficiaries of the deceased for his SSS pension and therefore entitled to the SSS death benefits. 

Held: Only Jeylnn has sufficiently established her right to a monthly pension. 

Jeylnn’s claim is justified by the photocopy of her birth certificate showing the signature of Pablo as her father authenticating that Jeylnn was born on October 29, 1991. Records show that Rosanna and Pablo were married on December 4, 1977 which continued, as far as the records are concerned, until the death of Pablo on December 8, 1996. Based on the records, Jeylnn was born during the marriage of Rosanna and Pablo. Since Jeylnn was conceived or born during the marriage of the parents, she is considered legitimate. 

Petitioner Rosanna married Romeo dela Pena during her marriage to Pablo. A wife who is already separated de facto from her husband cannot be said to be “dependent from support” upon the husband 

Even if the records show that the spouses adopted Janet, there were no legal papers to prove it. She therefore does not qualify as a primary beneficiary

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