Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Children Conceived through In-vitro Fertilization Cannot Be Supported with Social Security Income?

After seven months of battling for Social Security Income (SSI), the mother of a pair of twins that was conceived through in-vitro fertilization months after her husband died recently received an unfortunate news.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that children conceived with a dead father’s frozen sperm are not entitled to Social Security Income (SSI) if they were not eligible to inherit property from their father under federal law.

In a previous blog post authored by Rodney Mesriani, the full story of Karen Capato’s in-vitro fertilization was featured.

It was actually a long, complex story that started when the Social Security Administration previously denied Karen Capato’s claim for SSI in behalf of her twins prompting her to file an appeal. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court where she won.

However, the Social Security Administration (SSA), through its commissioner, Michael J. Astrue, filed a motion for reconsideration, and the higher court agreed and set a hearing for the final verdict.

The Supreme Court eventually declined her appeal, leaning on the interpretation of provisions of the Social Security Act.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her ruling that the technology that made the twins’ conception and birth possible was not considered valid by Congress, as evidenced by provisions enacted in 1939 and 1965. Justice Ginsburg added that the law was designed to primarily benefit those survivors supported by the decedent wage earner during his or her lifetime.

The major provision was one calling for the Social Security Administration to look into state laws regarding inheritance in determining whether an applicant is the child of the subject parent, Justice Ginsburg explained.

The Capatos resided in Florida where the decedents’ last will was signed and authenticated. Therefore, they must abide with Florida’s law concerning inheritance. Under the Florida law, a child born after a parent’s death may only inherit property of the parent if the child was conceived during the parent’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, the twin’s mother conceived the twin 18 months after the death of her husband through in-vitro fertilization.

The answer to the question “If children conceived through in-vitro fertilization can be entitled to SSI claims?” will definitely vary depending on the state’s law. Just take the case of the Utah boy who was conceived by his mother two years after the death of his father.

Although the boy’s father wished to father a child during his lifetime, he did not specify the said wish in his last will. Therefore, the boy will definitely not qualify for the SSI claims and other properties of his father as dictated under the Utah law.

Although looking to state law to decide on conceived children’s eligibility for SSI claims is burdensome, it somehow made clear that the Congress is still open for a different approach, according to a Los Angeles SSI lawyer.