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G.R. No.

170195

March 28, 2011

SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION and SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, Petitioner,


vs. TERESA G. FAVILA, Respondent.
Teresa Favila was married to Florante Favila on January 17, 1970. Florante desig
nated her as the sole beneficiary in the E-1 Form on June 30, 1970. He likewise
designated each one of his children as beneficiaries when he begot them. When Fl
orante died on February 1, 1997, his pension benefits under the SSS were given t
o their only minor child at that time, Florante II, but only until his emancipat
ion at age 21. Teresa subsequently filed her claim for said benefits before the
SSS. The SSS, however, denied the claim.
The ruling of SSC held that death benefits are dependent on 2 factors: (1) legal
ity of the marital relationship; and (2) dependency for support, which is affect
ed by factors such as separation de facto of the spouses, marital infidelity and
such other grounds sufficient to disinherit a spouse under the law. SSC ruled t
hat Teresa is disqualified from claiming the death benefits because she was deem
ed not dependent for support from Florante due to marital infidelity. SSC furthe
r held that Teresa did not timely contest her non-entitlement to the award of be
nefits. It was only when Florante II s pension was stopped that she filed her clai
m.
CA found Teresa's petition with merit. It gave weight to the fact that she is a
primary beneficiary because she is the lawful surviving spouse of Florante and i
n addition, she was designated by Florante as such beneficiary. There was no leg
al separation or annulment of marriage that could have disqualified her from cla
iming the death benefits. It opined that once a spouse is designated by an SSS m
ember as his/her beneficiary, same forecloses any inquiry as to whether the spou
se is indeed a dependent deriving support from the member.
ISSUE
Is Teresa a primary beneficiary in contemplation of the Social Security Law as t
o be entitled to death benefits accruing from the death of Florante?
DECISION
No. For a spouse to qualify as a primary beneficiary, he/she must not be a legit
imate spouse but also a dependent as provided by Section 8 (e) and (k) of RA 116
1. Dependent is defined under under paragraph (e) as one who is dependent upon t
he member for support. In Re: Application for Survivor s Benefits of Manlavi, the
Court defined "dependent" as "one who derives his or her main support from anoth
er [or] relying on, or subject to, someone else for support; not able to exist o
r sustain oneself, or to perform anything without the will, power or aid of some
one else."
As Teresa had been separated from Florante for 17 years prior to his death, she
was not dependent on her husband for any support, financial or otherwise, hence,
she is not a dependent. Court ruled in Aguas that "a wife who is already separa
ted de facto from her husband cannot be said to be dependent for support upon the
husband, absent any showing to the contrary. Whoever claims entitlement to the b
enefits provided by law should establish his or her right thereto by substantial
evidence. Teresa failed to present any proof to show that at the time of her hu
sband s death, she was still dependent on him for support even if they were alread
y living separately.
Teresa Favila was declared to be not a dependent spouse and therefore not entitl

ed to death benefits.