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Issue: GSIS Survivorship Pension Benefits (Update)

THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (GSIS) will be strictly implementing a law on survivorship benefits effective March 2010. Read this post. You might be affected one way or another.

Disclaimer: The following are relevant information obtained from various sources. We are reposting them for information and reference purposes only. No intention of creating alarm on the part of probable affected parties.

GSIS PRESS RELEASE [source]
October 16, 2009

GSIS strictly implements law on survivorship benefits Beginning March 2010, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) said it will strictly conform to provisions of the law that defines the eligibility for survivorship pension—a benefit extended to qualified dependents of deceased GSIS pensioners or members.

In particular, the GSIS said only qualified “dependent” spouses, children, or both can apply for this benefit, as mandated by Republic Act 8291, also known as the GSIS Act of 1997, starting March next year. The GSIS referred to Section 20 of RA 8291, which states that only “dependent” spouses and children are qualified to receive survivorship benefits.

The same RA 8291 further said that GSIS must only accept a dependent as, among others, a “…legitimate spouse dependent for support upon the member or pensioner.” “Therefore, a legitimate spouse who is gainfully employed is not entitled to receive the survivorship benefit because he/she is not dependent on his/her spouse for support,” the GSIS said.

The GSIS also cited a Supreme Court decision, which reiterated this requirement of the law. In the said case, the Court denied a contested application for survivorship pension, saying: “In order to be entitled to the Survivorship Benefits under RA 8291, the beneficiary must be dependent upon the GSIS member or pensioner for support.

In line with this, the GSIS said it will start suspending the monthly benefits of the spouses of deceased pensioners who are found to be gainfully employed or have other sources of income.

And to stress that it is serious in implementing this policy, the GSIS will start with no less than GSIS personnel who are survivorship pensioners, as their benefits as such will be cancelled.

Moreover, these employees will be ordered to reimburse all survivorship pensions improvidently paid to them through salary deductions.

The GSIS said new or existing survivorship pensioners working in the government or private sector, gainfully engaged in a business, or currently receiving other pension are not qualified for the survivorship pension.

The GSIS will send letters to existing survivorship pensioners to inform them about this policy. The letters will also contain affidavits that survivors need to fill up, have them notarized, and then send them back to the GSIS to prove that they are dependent for support upon the pensioner, and thus eligible to continue receiving survivorship benefits. “The GSIS was created to provide benefits to its members and pensioners. It will not hesitate to provide benefits to qualified dependents of contributors of the funds, as long as they are really entitled to it by law,” the GSIS said.

It added: “The GSIS is here not to be popular. It exists to provide due benefits and it exists to protect the hard-earned contributions of its paying members.”
Pertinent provisions of Republic Act 8291
AN ACT AMENDING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1146, AS AMENDED, EXPANDING AND INCREASING THE COVERAGE AND BENEFITS OF THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, INSTITUTING REFORMS THEREIN AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

SURVIVORSHIP BENEFITS

SEC. 20. Survivorship Benefits. — When a member or pensioner dies, the beneficiaries shall be entitled to survivorship benefits provided in Sections 21 and 22 hereunder subject to the conditions therein provided for. The survivorship pension shall consist of:

(1) the basic survivorship pension which is fifty percent (50%) of the basic monthly pension; and

(2) the dependent children’s pension not exceeding fifty percent (50%) of the basic monthly pension.

SEC. 21. Death of a Member. — (a) Upon the death of a member, the primary beneficiaries shall be entitled to:

(1) survivorship pension: Provided, That the deceased:

(i) was in the service at the time of his death; or

(ii) if separated from the service, has at least three (3) years of service at the time of his death and has paid thirty-six (36) monthly contributions within the five-year period immediately preceding his death; or has paid a total of at least one hundred eighty (180) monthly contributions prior to his death; or
(2) the survivorship pension plus a cash payment equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of his average monthly compensation for every year of service: Provided, That the deceased was in the service at the time of his death with at least three (3) years of service; or

(3) a cash payment equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of his average monthly compensation for each year of service he paid contributions, but not less than Twelve thousand pesos (P12,000.00): Provided, That the deceased has rendered at least three (3) years of service prior to his death but does not qualify for the benefits under item (1) or (2) of this paragraph.

(b) The survivorship pension shall be paid as follows:

(1) when the dependent spouse is the only survivor, he/she shall receive the basic survivorship pension for life or until he/she remarries;

(2) when only dependent children are the survivors, they shall be entitled to the basic survivorship pension for as long as they are qualified, plus the dependent children’s pension equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the basic monthly pension for every dependent child not exceeding five (5), counted from the youngest and without substitution;

(3) when the survivors are the dependent spouse and the dependent children, the dependent spouse shall receive the basic survivorship pension for life or until he/she remarries, and the dependent children shall receive the dependent children’s pension mentioned in the immediately preceding paragraph (2) hereof.

(c) In the absence of primary beneficiaries, the secondary beneficiaries shall be entitled to:

(1) the cash payment equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of his average monthly compensation for each year of service he paid contributions, but not less than Twelve thousand pesos (P12,000.00): Provided, That the member is in the service at the time of his death and has at least three (3) years of service; or

(2) in the absence of secondary beneficiaries, the benefits under this paragraph shall be paid to his legal heirs.

(d) For purposes of the survivorship benefits, legitimate children shall include legally adopted and legitimated children.
Full Text: Republic Act 8291


RA 8291 - COOLBUSTER.net

How survivorship pension beneficiaries will be affected, based on this blog post

"HOW GSIS BROKE MY MOTHER-IN-LAW’S HEART" by Ryan Ericson Canlas

"It’s a little disappointing hearing my mother-in-law cry last night. The last time I heard her cry was 4 months ago and that was when my father-in-law died. She is too much stressed lately due to the trouble that the Government Service Insurance System or GSIS has been causing her. Thus, I have decided to write this blog entry and perhaps post prior correspondence in the hope that someone at GSIS will get to read it. I also hope that this will reach our politicians for immediate action.

My late father-in-law has been a government employee and an officer for more than 32 years the same as my mother-in-law. He works with DENR in Mati, Davao Oriental while my mother-in-law now works at the province’s state college after her stint with DENR. Both their fathers worked with the government as well until they have retired. Thus, both of them come from a family of public servants.

The issue stems when my father-in-law died last October 2009, my mother-in-law was expecting to at least receive an amount from GSIS being a form of insurance policy for government employees. When she filed her claims for surviving spouse, she was turned down by GSIS in Tagum City on the premise that she is not qualified as a surviving spouse or dependent because she is still gainfully employed.

It was mentioned by GSIS that they have released a prior memo sometime September 2009 stating that survivors who are gainfully employed and are not totally dependent on the deceased member are not qualified to claim for whatever benefit due effective March 2010. This memo was not circulated to all government employees and my mother-in-law‘s application was dated October 2009.

When she informed us about this, we all tried to research online and found some materials both from the GSIS website and from legal forums. My concern now is that the affectivity date is set for March 2010 and so any application for claim of benefits should still be accommodated. Right? If not, GSIS should have at least informed members that their heirs should be unemployed if they were to die soon!

More so, my brother-in-law who is 19 years old should at least qualify as a dependent child and therefore, in the midst of my mother-in-law being disqualified due to her employment status, claims for benefits should at least be granted. I was just wondering why both my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law were disqualifed. Thus, rendering the benefits and contributions of my father-in-law useless.

I was disappointed. I finish my studies from the income that my parents get from the government being government employees. This is the very reason why when I graduated from college, I immediately took and passed the Career Service Professional eligibility exam. Now, I get to think if all effort of paying my taxes and social security are worth it or if I am just enriching corrupt officials in doing so?

Imagine having to serve your country for more than 32 years and imagine having to pay your monthly contributions to GSIS or SSS for almost 32 years only for nothing. Three years before your retirement age of 65, you get to pass away leaving nothing to your heirs because your wife is still working or that your kids are 19 years old up. Thus, the government gets all your benefits back including interest!

Tsk. We thought of going to DENR to ask if we can avail of getting the premiums paid or all the monthly contributions plus interest as most legal forums would tell that this is allowed but to no avail. We were not even able to claim for the death and burial benefits of my father-in-law. Now, we just want our mother-in-law to retire since most of us are working and GSIS would definitely disqualify claims for her.

I am a little frustrated now so I write this. I am planning to send a letter to Imbestigador and XXX in the hope that they will get to investigate such cruelty done by GSIS to its members. I am thinking as well of not paying my social security since I am the same age as my wife and she is working too. I might pass away and end up with my family not getting any because my wife is not a dependent of mine! Tsk!

To this end, I ask our politicians to act on this as we have thousands if not millions of government employees out there who pay their monthly contributions religiously in the hope that they will have something for their family someday. What GSIS is doing is stealing money from them by asking them to pay and putting out a memo that their survivors should be unemployed or they will get none!

Last Christmas at an ATM booth, I heard an old lady complaining that her GSIS survivorship pension is delayed. Others may fear speaking about this but my mother-in-law was able to voiced out her sentiments in a recent conference in Manila with fellow government employees. She was promised by a GSIS officer that they will do something about it. I just wonder if GSIS is indeed doing something about it. Hmp!

Now I cannot blame others in their speculations that GSIS took down its database system to be able to prevent audits an steal more as the government changes administration. Thus, corrupt people can steal money without fear of being traced due to corrupted data reports. As some would say, it’s election time and it’s the best time to steal and invest people’s contributions on campaigns! Tsk!"


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We have spoken to a branch manager of a GSIS regional office over the phone. She said that the issuance of the particular memo was not pursued and that the implementation next month might be put on hold after a hold order from their main office was released.

She also explained that what happened to Ryan's mother-in-law was covered by Sections 20 and 21 of RA 8291, implementation of which was done by virtue of an internal "Advisory" and not the aforementioned memo.

She further disclosed that the GSIS is holding meetings and consultation assemblies with various sectors of society to discuss the issue.

Update 2/19/2010:

I was able to obtain a photocopy of the letter dated November 16, 2009 of Mrs. Marciana Bata, Branch Head of GSIS Tagum City, which was addressed to Mrs. Eleanor Lagmay (Ryan's mother in-law) who is presently employed at the Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST).

Subject of the letter was the latters application for survivorship benefits for the death of her husband, Nelson Lagmay, a former administrative officer of the DENR in Mati City in Davao Oriental province.

In the letter, Mrs. Bata cited Sections 20 and 21 of RA 8291 on the denial of the application. Also, per GSIS, the Supreme Court's definition of "dependent" as -
one who derives his or her main support from another. Meaning, 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.
disqualifies Mrs. Lagmay as a legitimate beneficiary for survivorship claims.

On January 26, 2010, representative Thelma Z. Almario of the 2nd District of Davao Oriental wrote to GSIS president Winston Garcia to appeal for the reconsideration of the subject application for "humanitarian reasons." In that letter, congresswoman Almario pointed out that while Mrs. Lagmay is presently employed, her salary is not sufficient to support her and her dependent minor child (under 21 years old).

No reply from GSIS yet.

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If you have some more relevant information, please feel free to post the link(s). We are currently gathering all resources for a possible supporting action.

We also welcome your comments, views and opinions on this issue.
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