Home » Survivor Benefits

The requirements for entitlement to Surviving Spouse Benefits are as follows:

  • The Claimant must have been the spouse of the Wage Earner at the time of his death;
  • The deceased Wage Earner must have been fully or currently insured at the time of his death; and
  • The Claimant must have filed an application for Surviving Spouse Benefits.

Spouse Defined: 
The Spouse means the person to whom the Wage Earner was legally or customarily married at the time of his death.

Legal Marriage:
A marriage between the Claimant and the Wage Earner that must have been performed and solemnized in accordance with 26 MIRC 4 Section 429,or the statutes of the jurisdiction of the Wage Earner at the time of their marriage. A certified copy of the public or church record or the original marriage certificate may prove a legal marriage.

Customary Marriage:
A marriage between the Claimant and the Wage Earner that must have been contracted and consummated in accordance with the statutory law, customary law and traditional practice of the Marshall Islands. A customary marriage must be confirmed by the High Court of the Marshall Islands. Furthermore, customary marriage can be recognized only when the legal spouse is dead or divorced.

Commencement of Surviving Spouse Benefits:
A Claimant for Surviving Spouse Benefits becomes entitled to such benefits beginning with the month of the death of the Wage Earner; provided, however, the maximum period for which such benefits shall be paid retroactively before the date of the application is 18 months for claims filed prior to September 30, 1992, 12 months for claims filed on or after October 1, 1992.

Amount of Surviving Spouse Benefits:
The monthly Surviving Spouse Benefit shall be 100% of the Basic Benefit; provided, however, the total monthly survivor’s insurance benefits payable to both the Surviving Spouse and the Surviving Children shall neither exceed the Basic Benefit applicable to the deceased Wage Earner nor be less than $128.99; and

Where more than one person is entitled to survivor’s benefits, the payments shall be made to all such beneficiaries proportionately to the percentage of the Basic Benefit due them.

Reduction of Surviving Spouse Benefits Based upon Subsequent Earnings:
With respect to Claimants under the age of 62, the Surviving Spouse Benefit amount will be reduced by $1.00 for every $3.00 earned in a quarter in excess of $1,500. The adjustment in benefits will be applied as soon as practicable following the quarter in which the earnings were made and reported. No adjustment is made for Claimants who have attained the age of 62 years.

Suspension of Surviving Spouse Benefits:
If the Claimant is not a citizen or national of the Marshall Islands, his Surviving Spouse Benefits will be suspended for any month after the sixth consecutive month during which the Claimant is outside the Marshall Islands.

Paragraph 7.a. of this article does not apply to any Claimant who is a citizen or national of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, or the United States of America, if the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the United States of America, respectively, extend periodic benefits on account of survival to citizens and nationals of the Marshall Islands who are not citizens of the subject country, who qualify for such benefits, and who are permitted to receive such benefits outside the country without regard to the duration of the absence.

Evidence of Continued Entitlement:
The Administrator may, at any time, require a Claimant to provide evidence to the satisfaction of the Administration of his entitlement to the Surviving Spouse Benefit.

If the evidence required under Paragraph 8.a. of this Article is not produced within the time fixed by the Administrator, he may suspend payment of the benefit until such time the required evidence is produced.

Termination of Surviving Spouse Benefits:
Surviving Spouse Benefits terminate the month before the month of the death or remarriage of the surviving spouse, whichever occurs first.

Surviving Child Benefits:
The requirements for entitlement to Child Benefits are as follows:

  • The Claimant must have been the child of the Wage Earner at the time of his death;
  • The Claimant must have been dependent upon the Wage Earner at the time of his death;
  • The deceased Wage Earner must have been fully or currently insured at the time of his death; and
  • An application for Surviving Child Benefits must have been filed with respect to the Claimant.

Child and Dependency Defined:
A Child means a Wage Earner’s natural, legally adopted, customarily adopted, or step child; provided the Wage Earner’s parental rights with respect to the child have not been terminated. A customary adoption must be confirmed by the High Court of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

A natural or legally adopted child is presumed dependent upon the parent, absent evidence to the contrary.

A customarily adopted child or a stepchild is dependent upon the parent only if at the time of the parent’s death the child had lived in the parent’s home continuously for one year and, during that time, the parent was contributing at least one-half (1/2) of the child’s support.

Commencement of Surviving Child Benefits:
A Claimant for Surviving Spouse Benefits becomes entitled to such benefits beginning with the month of the death of the Wage Earner; provided, however, the maximum period for which such benefits shall be paid retroactively before the date of the application is 18 months for claims filed prior to September 30, 1992, 12 months for claims filed on or after October 1, 1992.

Amount of Surviving Child Benefits:
Generally: Subject to the other paragraphs of this Article, the monthly Surviving Child Benefit shall be 25% of the Basic Benefit; provided, however,

The total monthly survivor’s insurance benefits payable to both the Surviving Spouse and the Surviving Children shall neither exceed the Basic Benefit applicable to the deceased Wage Earner nor be less than $128.99; and

Where more than one person is entitled to survivor’s benefits, the payments shall be made to all such beneficiaries proportionately to the percentage of Basic Benefit due them.

Reduction of Surviving Child Benefits Based upon Subsequent Earnings:
With respect to Claimants under the age of 62, the Surviving Child Benefit amount will be reduced by $1.00 for every $3.00 earned in a quarter in excess of $1,500. The adjustment in benefits will be applied as soon as practicable following the quarter in which the earnings were made and reported. No adjustment is made for Claimants who have attained the age of 62 years.

Suspension of Surviving Child Benefits:
If the Claimant is not a citizen or national of the Marshall Islands, his Surviving Child Benefits will be suspended for any month after the sixth consecutive month during which the Claimant is outside the Marshall Islands.

Paragraph 7.a. of this article does not apply to any Claimant who is a citizen or national of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, or the United States of America, if the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the United States of America, respectively, extend periodic benefits on account of survival to citizens and nationals of the Marshall Islands who are not citizens of the subject country, who qualify for such benefits, and who are permitted to receive such benefits outside the country without regard to the duration of the absence.

Evidence of Continued Entitlement:
The Administrator may, at any time, require a Claimant to provide evidence to the satisfaction of the Administration of his entitlement to the Surviving Child Benefit.

If the evidence required under Paragraph 8.a. of this Article is not produced within the time fixed by the Administrator, he may suspend payment of the benefit until such time the required evidence is produced.

Termination of Surviving Child Benefits:
Surviving Child Benefits terminate the month before the month of the occurrence of any of the following events:

  • The death of the Claimant;
  • The marriage of the Claimant;
  • The attainment of the age of 18 years by the Claimant, except that the Claimant shall be entitled to Surviving Child Benefits until he attains the age of 22 if he is a bona fide student. If the Claimant became disabled before attaining the age of 22, he shall be entitled to Surviving Child Benefits until his recovery or his death;
  • The adoption of a Claimant by another parent, except for adoption subsequent to the death of the Wage Earner by an aunt, uncle, stepparent, or grandparent; and
  • The assumption of custody of or support for the Claimant by a natural parent, where the Claimant receives Surviving Child Benefits as a result of a customary adoption.

Bona Fide Student Defined:
A bona fide student is a person who is enrolled at an educational institution licensed by the jurisdiction in which the institution is located and attends the institution on what the institution defines as a “full-time” basis. A student who is full-time for any part of a month is considered full-time for the entire month.

To evidence his status as a bona fide student, a Claimant shall have the educational institution complete and send to the Administration a certification of attendance. The certificate should include the following:

  • Name and address of the educational institution;
  • Name of the student; and
  • Date(s) of attendance as a full-time student.

The following table indicates the insurance requirements of the Wage Earner for entitlement to Retirement, Surviving Spouse, Surviving Child and Disability Insurance Benefits:

Benefits / Insurance Requirements Fully Insured Currently Insured Service Insured
Retirement
Early
Normal 
Deferred


X
X
 

X
Surviving Spouse X    
Surviving Child* X X  
Disability** X X  

*Wage Earner must be either fully or currently insured.
**Wage Earner must be both fully and currently insured.

Types of Marriages:

  • Ceremonial Marriage
  • ommon-Law Marriage
  • Customary Marriage.

Proof of Ceremonial Marriage:

  • Certified copy of a public record
  • Certified copy of a church record
  • Original marriage certificate.

Secondary Proof:

Before considering secondary proof, a complete explanation should be made as to why primary evidence is not available. Secondary proof of marriage includes:

  • Signed statement from official who performed the marriage ceremony
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Newspaper article on wedding

Legal Spouse (Remarriage) without Divorce:
In the case of a Wage Earner who has a legal spouse and later marries another person and subsequently dies, only the legal spouse shall be entitled to benefits, since the laws do not permit multiple marriages. One relationship must terminate before a new legal relationship begins.

Common-Law Marriage – Marriage Without a Ceremony:
The marriage is entered into by mutual consent of the parties to become husband and wife from the time on, without being solemnized by a ceremony.

Factors of Common-Law Marriages with the Parties:

  • Must have the intent to marry
  • Must consider themselves husband and wife
  • Must live together
  • Must be legally capable of entering into a valid marriage.

Proof of Common-Law Marriage:

  • A Statement of marriage from surviving spouse
  • Statements taken from two blood relatives of the deceased spouse
  • If statements cannot be obtained from two blood relatives, obtain a statement from others who know the facts.
  • Statements taken from two side parties (husband’s side and wife’s side)
  • Statement taken from a municipal official.

Customary Marriage: A marriage by custom can be recognized if certain conditions are met:

  • The parties must by subject to customary laws at the time of marriage
  • The parties have been following customary laws at the time of marriage
  • The marriage was in accordance with customary law and practice.

Proof of Customary Marriage:

  • Statement taken from the official who performed the ceremony
  • Statement taken from an official who is a recognized authority on customary law
  • Statement taken from relatives of the deceased
  • A declaration from the Court.

Termination of Marriage:
A marriage can terminate by divorce, annulment, or death of either party.

Divorce:
A final divorce is one that ends a legal marriage relationship.

Annulment:
An annulment is a decree that declares that an assumed marriage had never existed. It may also terminate a valid marriage otherwise referred to as a divorce.

Proof of Divorce:
Preferred evidence for obtaining proof of divorce would include a decree from a governing official or custodian of divorce records or a recognized official of customary law.

Evidence Required Where Two Persons Claim as Worker’s Surviving Spouse:
When two persons claim that each is the lawful spouse of a Wage Earner, the basic fact to ascertain is whether a divorce terminated the first marriage, or whether the first marriage was actually valid. Both legal and customary laws of the Wage Earner’s domicile at the time of death is important in determining this fact. Both claimants must submit as much information as possible in determining the validity of either marriage. If necessary, obtain Court determination to avoid future disputes.

Former Spouse Claims Marriage Still Valid:
If the Wage Earner has remarried, the former spouse maintains that their marriage never terminated, submits the following:

  • Brief history of marriage;
  • How long did they live together?
  • Number of children born during the marriage.
  • Any lengthy periods of separation?
  • Why the marriage did not terminate by divorce?
  • Was the spouse informed about any divorce proceedings?
  • Where did the Wage Earner live from time of separation to the time of his death (and the dates thereof)?

Latest Spouse Files – Evidence That Former Marriage Terminated

The spouse of the Wage Earner’s most recent marriage should submit:

  • Official evidence that previous marriage ended by divorce, annulment or death of former spouse.
  • A detailed statement taken from the latest spouse and friends explaining when, where, and how the former marriage terminated.

Surviving Children:
Benefits of surviving children can be made based on a Wage Earner who was either fully or currently insured at the time of death.

Parent Relationship – Living With or Contributing to Child’s Support:

A surviving child is considered dependent upon a Wage Earner under the following conditions:

Child Dependency: A child who is either legitimate or legally adopted is always considered dependent on the parent.

A child who is either a stepchild, customarily adopted, or one born out of wedlock is dependent on the parent if:

  • The child lived with the parent; and
  • The parent contributed to at least one-half of the child’s support.

Other Qualifying Conditions Supporting the Relationship of a Child to the Parent:

  • Decree by the Court that the wage earner is the child’s parent.
  • The wage earner was ordered by the Court to contribute to the child’s support because the child is his child.
  • Wage earner acknowledged in writing that the child is his child – e.g. for a payroll allotment or insurance policy.

Legal Adoption – Before Death:
Any child legally adopted by the wage earner prior to his death is deemed dependent on the adopting parent.

Legal Adoption – After Death:
A child legally adopted after the death of the Wage Earner is deemed dependent on the Wage Earner if adoption proceedings had been initiated prior to the Wage Earner’s death.

A Child Legally or Customarily Adopted by the Surviving Spouse of a Wage Earner After the Death of a Wage Earner:

A child legally adopted by the surviving spouse after the death of a Wage Earner is considered a legally adopted child of the Wage Earner if:

  • The child was living with the Wage Earner at the time of his death; and
  • At the time of the Wage Earner’s death, the child was not receiving regular and substantial support from someone other than the Wage Earner or the spouse.

Stepchild Definition:
A stepchild of a Wage Earner is a child of a natural parent who marries the wage earner. Proof of relationship of the stepchild to his natural or adopting parent must be furnished.

Documentary Evidence: 
All claims should be supported by original documents. If the document cannot be retained, a photocopy can be accepted. However, a photocopy must be presented with the original document and certified by the Social Security Representative as an exact copy of the original.

Photocopying Documents:
A photocopy of an original document may be accepted. However, it must be submitted with the original document so that it can be examined for authenticity and exactness.

If the copies are authentic and clear of any irregularities, the photocopy should be rubber-stamped with the following statement and signed by the Social Security Representative:

  • The original document of which this is a photocopy appears to be genuine and unaltered and to have been made at the time purported. This photocopy consists of ____ pages.
  • Signed: ________________________ 
    S.S. Representative

Procedures for Translating Document:
Persons authorized to translate documents include the Social Security Representative or a recognized translator, provided the translator certifies the accuracy of the translation and sign it.

Affidavits:
Although affidavits may be used to develop claims, they are not to be used as substitutes for original documents.

An affidavit is merely a statement made by an individual before a Notary Public or other properly accepted authorizing individual. The person who seals the affidavit swears to authenticity that the affiant did appear before him and made the statement contained in the affidavit BUT THE SEALER DOES NOT ATTEST TO THE TRUTH OF THE STATEMENT.

Evidence of Age Including Age At Death:
Every Claimant should be requested to submit an official birth certificate or a religious record of birth or baptism.

Delayed Birth Certificate:
If neither a birth certificate not a baptismal record of birth is available, the Claimant will be required to obtain a delayed birth certificate.

Delayed birth certificates as certified by the Clerk of Court are acceptable in lieu of other evidences of birth date information. In order to process delayed birth certificate, the Claimant must submit the evidence upon which the delayed record is to be based directly to the Clerk of Court.

Other Proof of Age:
In the absence of an official birth document, other proofs of age may be available to substantiate the age of a Claimant.

The following records are some of the information, which may be available to authenticate a person’s correct age:

  • School Record - Most schools maintain a file of basic information of new students, which would normally include the child’s date of birth.
  • Church Record - If the child was baptized, the church should have a record of birth and can issue an official certificate of baptism, which contains the date of birth; this is acceptable. If no baptism took place, the church may have otherwise recorded the birth.
  • Marriage Record - The application for a marriage license or the marriage certificate will normally include the date of birth.
  • Passport - When applying for a passport, a general requirement is to include an official birth certificate to support the date of birth on the application. The passport (or preferably the supporting document) will be helpful.
  • Hospital Record - Hospitals maintain records of birth, which occur in the hospital. If a record is available, it should be certified by a hospital official.

Evidence Establishes Year of Birth Only:
Occasionally, birth documents are submitted which include only the year of birth, or the year and month without the day.

If a document has:

  • Year/month, but no day – use the last day of the month
  • No month or day – use the 2nd day of the 7th month in the year of birth
  • More than one date of birth – use the date least advantageous to the Claimant.

Discrepancy between Wage Earner’s Name and that Shown on the Document:

In cases where the Claimant’s name differs materially from the name on the documents used to ascertain his date of birth, secure a written statement from the claimant explaining why the discrepancy exists. If there is reason to question whether or not the birth document actually belongs to the Claimant, additional evidence should be provided which clearly indicates that the different name belongs to the same person.

Proof of Death:

Proof of death of the Wage Earner is required whenever an application for survivor’s benefit or lump-sum death benefit is made.

Disappearance – Body Not Recovered:

Payment of benefit cannot be made until the death of the missing person is clearly proven. In this respect, as much information as possible should be developed to support proof of death, i.e.:

  • Statement from the claimant, relatives, employer, and friends with whom the missing person may have communicated.
  • Statements taken from persons having knowledge of the disappearance.
  • Newspaper items.
  • Results from a police investigation.
  • Reasons why the person may be missing (like financial, family or mental problems).
  • Evidence showing that the person may have been in extreme danger.

Documentation of Death by Court for a Missing Person:

Once all evidence on the disappearance has been assembled, it should be presented to the Court for a declaration of official death. A certified copy of the declaration is required to support a claim.