Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Social Security Administration denied social security benefits to a pair of posthumously conceived twins. The twins were conceived when their mother decided to use in vitro fertilization to become pregnant using the preserved semen of her late-husband. The question before the Court was whether these children should be denied social security benefits based upon the timing of their conception. In this case, the twins were conceived after the death of their father.
The Supreme Court of the United States held in Astrue v. Capato that the courts should use the applicable state intestacy law to determine whether a child is considered a "child" of the deceased parent and entitled to benefits. The state intestacy law that should be used is the law of the state where the deceased was domiciled at death. The problem with this ruling, as some have pointed out, is that the law would be applied differently and inequitably among the various states.
See Gregory F. Monday, Supreme Court Unanimously Rules That State Law Can Define Family Relations for Federal Program, Trusts & Estates, May 30, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.