Hierarchy of SSS Beneficiaries

Updated March 22, 2018

When an SSS member dies, his or her SSS beneficiaries get a death benefit from SSS.

The amount of death benefit and whether it will be a one-time lump sum or monthly pension will depend on the member’s number of monthly contributions, credited years of contributions, last 60 monthly contributions, and whether the beneficiaries are primary or secondary.

Here are the types and hierarchy of SSS Beneficiaries:

1. Primary Beneficiaries

The Primary beneficiaries are FIRST in the hierarchy.
There are 3 kinds of Primary Beneficiaries:

a. Dependent legal spouse
(He/she remains a beneficiary as long as he/she DOES NOT remarry, cohabit with another person, or have a child with another person)

b. Dependent children under 21,
whether legitimate, illegitimate or legally adopted
(They remain beneficiaries until they turn 21, or get married or get employed)

c. Dependent children over 21 who are permanently incapacitated
(they stop being primary beneficiaries if they get married)

Primary beneficiaries get a monthly pension if the deceased member accumulated at least 36 monthly contributions. They can choose to get the first 18 monthly pensions in advance, as a one-time lump sum and then start receiving their monthly pension on the 19th month.

If the deceased member accumulated less than 36 monthly contributions, beneficiaries get a one-time lump sum.

If there are primary beneficiaries, they are the only ones who will receive the death benefit. If the spouse is not qualified to claim the death benefit because he/she is no longer a dependent, the dependent children under 21 or permanently incapacitated children will claim the benefit.

2. Secondary Beneficiaries

If there are no primary beneficiaries, meaning there are no dependent spouse and no children, the benefits can be claimed by the Secondary Beneficiaries.

The secondary beneficiaries are the dependent father and mother of the deceased. They will receive the death benefit as a one-time lump sum.

3a. Designated Secondary Beneficiaries

If there are no primary and secondary beneficiaries, meaning there are no dependent spouse, no children, no dependent parents, the benefits can be claimed by the beneficiaries written in the deceased member’s SSS records (SSS E1 or SSS E4 forms).

3b. Additional Designated Secondary Beneficiaries

The SSS Citizen’s Charter states that the following can be designated as SSS Beneficiaries provided they are dependent on the deceased member at the time of death:

a. Legitimate ascendants and descendants
b. Parents and their legitimate children and the legitimate and
illegitimate children of the latter
c. Parents and their illegitimate children
d. Legitimate brothers and sisters, whether full blood or half blood

Secondary beneficiaries receive a one-time lump sum.

Actual examples:

Here are the results of 2 death benefit claims. Two adult children, one was 28 and the other was 23, filed their claim after each of their fathers died. Their mothers were disqualified as beneficiaries because they have remarried. Soon these two children were surprised to find found out that they were not the ones written as beneficiaries in their father’s E1 or E4 forms kept by the SSS. One found out it was his aunt who was designated as beneficiary in his father’s E1, and the other found out it was her cousin who was designated as beneficiary in her father’s E1.

What SSS did was it divided the benefits between the 2 beneficiaries: in the first case, 50% for the son and 50% for the aunt, and for the other case, 50% for the daughter and 50% for the cousin.

According to Section 8 of the SS Law, RA 8282, if there are no dependent spouse, no dependent children and no dependent parents, the beneficiaries will be any other person designated by the member as his/her secondary beneficiary.

SSS will check the designated beneficiaries in the deceased member’s E1 or E4 form filed with the SSS.

4. Legal Heirs Based on the Law of Succession

If there are no primary, secondary and designated secondary beneficiaries, the benefits can be claimed by the legal heirs based on the Law of Succession.

The hierarchy and shares of the legal heirs are described in the Civil Code
(Book III, Title IV, Chapter 3, Section 2)

a.  Heirs written in the member’s will (in the form prescribed by law)

b.  Legal Heirs, based on Intestate Succession

1.   Legitimate children or their descendants
including adopted children or their descendants

2.   Illegitimate children or their descendants

3.   Father and mother

4.   Maternal and paternal ascendants

5.   Spouse

6.   Brothers and sisters or their children

7.   If there are no legal heirs, the whole estate of the deceased will be inherited by the municipality in the Philippines where the deceased last resided, or in the case
of real property, where the real estate is located.

What about the funeral benefit? Who can claim it?

The funeral benefit can be claimed by the person who spent for the funeral, to be proven by funeral receipts.

In case the funeral was paid for by an organization, a funeral plan provider or a generous person, the family of the deceased member can ask the person who paid for the funeral to sign the SSS waiver form to enable the family to claim the funeral benefit.


1. Social Security Law  (RA 8282)

SEC. 8. Terms Defined
SEC. 15. Nontransferability of Benefits

2. SSS Citizen’s Charter  (Nov 2016)

Definition of Terms

3. SSS Guidebook  (2017)

Death Benefit
Who are the beneficiaries of a deceased member?


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