Expanded pension benefits for children of retired military personnel

CHILDREN of retired military personnel who are above 21 years old but have serious disabilities will get pension benefits under a bill seeking to amend Presidential Decree 1638 otherwise known as the “AFP Military Personnel Retirement and Separation Decree of 1979.”

Rep. Teddy Casiño (Party-list, Bayan Muna) filed House Bill 6120 granting pension benefits to children of retired military personnel who are beyond 21 years old but with serious disabilities and include them in the pension beneficiaries.

Casiño said the bill aims to ensure that these children regardless of physical, mental or emotional disabilities enjoy pension benefits.

“They should be included in the pension beneficiaries, same as the practice of veteran’s affairs offices in other countries such as the United States,” Casiño said.

In filing the bill, Casiño cited the declared policy of the State recognizing the rights and privileges of persons with disabilities, their contributions to society, as well as their needs.

“As already enshrined in laws such as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, the State shall give full support to the improvement and the well-being of persons with disabilities,” Casiño said.

Casiño said when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Finance Center released an order on July 16, 2009; children with disabilities who are above 21 years old and are under guardianship were deleted in the AFP Pension Payroll.

Casiño said among those who were deleted in the list were Mary Magdalena and Elizabeth Brandares who are both “mentally retarded” or have intellectual disabilities.  Mary is an epileptic while Elizabeth is deaf.  They are the daughters of the late retired AFP officer Corajosa Brandares and who were not granted pension benefits since they were already over 21 years old when their father died.

Casiño added that when their mother Marquita died in 2001, the two applied for a derivative retirement pension which was granted by the AFP’s Office of the Judge Advocate General on January 16, 2008 which states that under the AFP Retirement law, entitlement to derivative retirement pension by children/survivors terminates upon attaining the age of 21 or earlier upon marriage.  It is assumed that he had already physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally matured which enables him to have full capacity for all acts of civil life.

However, full capacity of all acts of civil life depends upon the favorable development of an individual.  This applies to mentally retarded persons or to those whose mental facilities have not normally developed, hence, in the eyes of the law, they are treated as minors, more specifically, incompetents.

“But this decision was reversed by the same office on August 24, 2009, explaining that under PD 1638, it is clear that regardless of physical, mental or emotional maturity, pension benefits will be terminated once the child reaches the age of 21 years old,” Casiño said.

Under the measure to be known as the “Pension Benefits for Retired Military Personnel Offspring with Disabilities Act of 2012,” Section 25-b.2 of PD 1638 is amended by inserting the phrase unless prior to the retirement, the child became permanently unable to support himself/herself because of serious disabilities in which case a statement from an attending physician or other medical evidence which shows the nature and extent of the physical or mental disability shall be submitted.

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