Sometimes a disabled child may receive benefits based on a parent’s work record.
Social Security Ruling (SSR) 06-02p deals with the circumstance in which the following 3 conditions apply:
1) It has been determined that a child (referred to as “C1”) is the natural child of a worker under section 216(h)(3) of the Social Security Act;
2) Social Security must determine whether another child (referred to as “C2”) is the child of the worker under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act; and
3) The results of DNA testing show a high likelihood of a sibling relationship between C1 and C2.
In a social security disability claim on a parent’s work record, the claimant may prove he or she is the child of the worker in four different ways:
1) The claimant could inherit the worker’s property under the intestate succession laws (laws determining heirship where the deceased died without a will) of the appropriate state. See Section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act; 20 C.F.R. 404.355(a)(1), 42 U.S.C. 416(h)(2)(A);
2) The claimant is the worker’s natural child and the worker and the claimant’s mother or father went through a wedding ceremony that would have been valid but for a “legal impediment.” See Section 216(h)(2)(B) of the Act; 42 U.S.C. 416(h)(2)(B); 20 C.F.R. 404.355(a)(2);
3) The claimant is the worker’s natural child and, at the appropriate time, the worker acknowledged parentage of the child, was adjudicated by a court to be the child’s parent, or was ordered by a court to contribute to the child’s support because the claimant was the worker’s child. See Section 216(h)(3) of the Act; 42 U.S.C. 416(h)(3); 20 C.F.R. 404.355(a)(3);
4) The claimant is shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of social security to be the worker’s child and the worker was living with the claimant or contributing to his or her support at the appropriate time. See Section 216(h)(3) of the Act; 42 U.S.C. 416(h)(3); 20 C.F.R. 404.355(a)(4).
The first of these four tests is determined by the intestate succession laws of the appropriate State. The tests in paragraphs 2 through 4, on the other hand, are determined by federal law.
Two questions arise, which are the subject of the aforementioned social security ruling:
1) If C1 is established as the worker’s child under one of the federal law tests, must C1 also be established as the worker’s child under the state law test for social security to use evidence that C2 and C1 are siblings in determining whether C2 is the worker’s child under the State law test?
2) For purposes of establishing that C2 is the worker’s child under the State law test, can social security consider C1 to be the worker’s natural child for purposes of eligibility pursuant to the federal law test?
The difficulty arises because of the different standards of proof between the federal and state law tests. The intestate laws of most states provide that, in order for a person to inherit property from a deceased person pursuant to that state intestate laws, the person must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is the natural child of the deceased. On the other hand, under one of the federal law tests, the claimant need only prove “to the Commissioner’s satisfaction” that he or she is the worker’s child.
The Social Security ruling mentioned above provides that the administration will rely on the determination that C1 is the worker’s child under federal law. Then, they will follow the intestate succession laws of the appropriate state in order to determine if DNA testing showing a sibling relationship between C1 and C2 establishes C2 as the worker’s child pursuant to those laws.
This streamlines the process of determining C2’s eligibility by avoiding an unnecessary redetermination of C1’s status under the state law test when it has already been determined under one of the federal law tests.
It often helps to consult an experienced attorney in determining eligibility for Children’s disability as a disabled individual based on a parent’s work record.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.