Archive for May 23, 2012
In March, we previewed Astrue v. Capato, in which Karen Capato attempted to collect Social Security survivor’s benefits for twins conceived after the death of the father, based on the father’s income.
The court ruled unanimously that no good definition of a surviving child exists, given technological changes which came into effect since Congress passed the original Act. However, writing for the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says the Social Security Administration’s interpretation of what is a “child”, while not perfect, makes more sense and is more consistent with the Act than Karen Capato’s.
Kristine Knaplund, over at SCOTUSblog, gives this plain English analysis of the Court’s decision:
The United States Supreme Court decided unanimously that a child conceived and born after a parent’s death cannot rely solely on a genetic connection to the deceased parent in order to qualify for Social Security survivors benefits. Siding with the Social Security Administration’s interpretation of the law, the Court held that all children, including those born via assisted reproduction technology, must either demonstrate that they would be eligible to inherit from their late parent under state law or satisfy one of the statutory alternatives to that requirement. The SSA’s interpretation was more consistent with the core purpose of the Act, which is to protect family members who depend on another family member’s income from hardship if that family member dies.