Court grants social security benefits to widow in unregistered marriage

Landmark ruling could set a precedent that extends to insurance

Court grants social security benefits to widow in unregistered marriage

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

In a landmark ruling that could set a precedent extending to life insurance in the private sector, a Malaysian court has allowed a woman to claim her late husband’s Social Security Organisation (Socso) pension, despite their marriage being officially unregistered.

Judge Su Geok Yiam of the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that Lam Yun Tai is entitled to the pension as she is classified as a dependent due to being the widow of her deceased common law husband, Leow Teng Song.

The Star reports that the couple were married in traditional Chinese rites at a Kepong temple in 1991 and they remained married for 24 years until Leow died on November 16, 2015.

Lam’s lawyer, G. Manimegalai, said that the ruling means that her client has a right to claim Socso pension benefits even if the marriage was not registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act.

“This is the first of its kind in Socso matters pertaining to insurance claims where the customary marriage is recognised,” the attorney added.

Previously, Socso denied Lam’s claim for survivors’ pension due to the unregistered marriage, but approved the claims of the couple’s children. The Star also reports that while survivors’ pension is available to children below age 21, Socso granted the claim of Leow’s eldest child, who is above 21, because he was disabled.

After the court decision, Socso will now compute how much Lam is entitled to receive, according to its lawyer Diba Natalia Ishak.

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