The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) provides much-needed benefits to the spouses and children of deceased workers. The level of survivors benefits depends on the amount of money that a worker has earned and how many years he or she worked before passing away. About 10 percent of Social Security benefits are in the form of survivors benefits, with the average benefit being around $1,000. For families who lost their primary wage earner, these benefits go a long way.
The Supreme Court decided last week to hear a case about survivors benefits that involves 21st century technology and the 1935 law that created Social Security. There are more than 100 cases pending before the SSA involving survivors benefits for children who were conceived via in vitro fertilization after the death of their working father. Many of these families use in vitro fertilization after finding out that the husband has cancer, still wanting to have children even after the father’s death. The problem is that the SSA and the courts are not sure how to handle this situation.
Federal appeals courts on the west and east coasts said that such children meet the definitions of the 1935 Social Security Act so that they should be able to receive benefits. Southern federal courts, on the other hand, disagree, ruling that such children do not qualify for survivors benefits. The SSA has been taking a third approach, arguing that whether state law lets such children inherit property if there was no will is the determining factor.
A decision from the Supreme Court should be out by next summer. Are you in a situation like this? Have you been denied benefits for your in vitro child?
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys