Argentinian man’s love for great-aunt, 91, led to marriage - but no pension

Mauricio Ossola was 23 when he wed Yolanda Torres in 2015 but since her death the social security system says he is not entitled to a widower’s pension

Uki Goni, Guardian News and Media
15:46 November 3, 2017

Buenos Aires: He says they married for love but Argentina’s social security system refuses to believe him.

Mauricio Ossola was 23 when he tied the knot with his 91-year-old great-aunt Yolanda Torres, a retired schoolteacher, in a simple ceremony in the northern province of Salta in 2015.

But since Torres’s death last year, the state retirement fund has refused to pay young Ossola a widower’s pension, arguing that the couple were not legitimately married.

“I loved Yolanda in the purest way it is possible to love someone, and that feeling, together with the pain her loss has caused me, will be with me to the end of my days,” Ossola told the Salta newspaper El Tribuno this week.

The Salta office of Argentina’s national administration of social security (Anses) remains unmoved, however, and has rejected his application for a widower’s pension.

In a ruling by its legal office this week, the social security system stated that it believes Ossola is seeking through a legal subterfuge to obtain a widower’s pensioner he is not really entitled to.

Such pensions are only awardable if the deceased can be proven to have been the only monetary support of the surviving partner, the ruling states. This would clearly not be the case for Ossola who is now a 26-year-old lawyer.

Ossola said that despite their 68-year age difference - and the fact that they were close relatives - the marriage was perfectly legal according to Argentinian law. He told El Tribuno he would take his case all the way to the supreme court if necessary.

“The rejection of my request is unfounded and I will not betray Yolanda’s last wish and the oath I made to her,” Ossola said.

Ossola lived in the town of Tres Cerritos with his brother, his mother, grandmother and Yolanda since childhood. The couple decided to marry when Ossola was about to quit his legal studies to find work, he said.

“Yolanda insisted I had to finish my studies,” said Ossola. “Our marriage was a noble and legitimate decision. She was a very important support in my life and this was her last wish.”

Ossola may yet be successful. In a similar case in Argentina 10 years ago, 24-year-old Reynaldo Wabeke married Adelfa Volpes, 82.

Wabeke’s octogenarian bride died 24 days after the marriage during the couple’s honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro, in neighbouring Brazil, and the young widower obtained a state pension without any problem.