Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I am taking this to the Supreme Court!

Litigants often vow to take cases all of the way to the Supreme Court but it is often not possible.  The Supreme Court of the United States only hears a limited number of cases --- and rarely issues of family law.  During the last court term, however, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a family law issue addressing whether or not children conceived after the death of their father would be eligible for Social Security Survivor benefits.

Karen Capato gave birth to twins eighteen months after their father, her husband, had died of cancer.  She conceived through artificial insemination using frozen sprem.  Karen applied for Social Security Survivors benefits for the children because their father was deceased.  The Social Security Administration denied the claim and the District Court affirmed.

Why did the Social Security Administration deny benefits?  The children's father, who had been a wage earner, was now dead.  However, pursuant to the law, the children could only receive their Social Security Survivor benefits if they could also inherit under the state intestacy law.  (An intestacy law dictates what happens to a person's assets if they die without a will.)  Under Florida state law, a posthumously conceived child cannot inherit from a parent via intestate succession.  Thus these children, born eighteen months after their father's death, would not qualify for Social Security Survivor benefits.  Read the full opinion for a complete analysis:  Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security v. Capato, decided May 21, 2012.

1 comment:

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