SSR 71-41: SECTIONS 202(d)(1)(D) and 216(h)(3). -- RELATIONSHIP -- ADOPTION OF A CHILD BY NATURAL MOTHER AND HER SPOUSE -- ADOPTION AS A TERMINATING EVENT

20 CFR 404.321(b)(2)

SSR 71-41

A child, adopted under Alabama law, became entitled to child's insurance benefits on the account of her adopting father. Subsequently, the natural mother and her spouse, who was otherwise unrelated to the child, legally adopted her. Held, adoption of child by her natural parent and the parent's spouse does not terminate child's entitlement to benefits on the earnings record of a living insured worker if immediately prior to adoption (1) inheritance rights existed in either direction between child and natural parent, or (2) child was deemed "child" of natural parent under section 216(h)(3) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 416(h)(3)).

C was born to L in February 1961. In September 1961, she was adopted by the worker, R, and his wife, W. C became entitled to child's insurance benefits beginning February 1965 on the earnings record of her adoptive father, R. In June 1968 C was adopted by her natural mother, L, and L's spouse, M.

The issue thus presented is whether the adoption by L and M terminated C's entitlement to benefits on the earnings record of R, her former adoptive father, under section 202(d)(1) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 402(d)(1)).

A child's adoption by his natural parent and the parent's spouse will not terminate the child's entitlement to benefits on the earnings record of another individual where immediately prior to adoption there were inheritance rights between the child and the natural parent under State law, or where the child was deemed the child of the natural parent under section 216(h)(3) of the Act. The reasoning is that where inheritance rights existed between the adopter and the adoptee immediately before the adoption, the adoption did not change the parties' relationship in terms of section 216(h) of the Social Security Act; that is, a new parent-child relationship was not created by the adoption but such relationship already existed (in terms of the criteria in section 216(h)) immediately before the adoption.

Under Alabama law, the domicile of the parties in the subject case, inheritance rights existed between C and her natural mother, L, at the time of adoption. Code of Alabama, Title 27 ยง 5. C, at the time of the adoption, also had the relationship of "child" to L under section 216(h)(3) of the Act.

Accordingly, it is held that C's adoption by her natural mother and her mother's spouse does not require the termination of benefits which she is receiving on the earnings record of her former adoptive father.


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