SSR 80-13: TITLE II: STATUS OF ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN UNDER MARYLAND INHERITANCE LAW PRIOR TO JANUARY 1970
PURPOSE: To revise the policy regarding status of illegitimate children under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act where the wage earner died domiciled in Maryland prior to January 1, 1970.
CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): Sections 216(h)(2)(A) and 202(d) of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 4, section 404.354; Allen v. Califano, 456 F. Supp. 168 (D. Md. 1978).
PERTINENT HISTORY: Section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act provides that an applicant for child's benefits will be considered the wage earner's child if he or she would be entitled to inherit intestate personal property from the deceased wage earner under the laws of intestate succession of the State in which the wage earner was domiciled at the time of death. The Maryland intestacy statute in effect prior to January 1, 1970, allowed an illegitimate child to inherit his deceased father's personal property only if the father had acknowledged paternity and subsequently married the child's mother.
In the case of Allen v. Califano, plaintiffs who had failed to qualify for child's benefits claimed that the Maryland intestacy statute incorporated by section 216(h)(2)(A) was unconstitutional insofar as it related to illegitimate children, and therefore could not constitutionally be used as a standard under a Federal statute.
The district court found that the Maryland statute was indistinguishable from an Illinois intestacy statute which the United States Supreme Court had held to be unconstitutional in its decision in Trimble v. Gordon, 430 U.S. 762 (1977).
Consequently, the court held that the Maryland intestacy statute which was in effect prior to January 1970 violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Having found the State law to be unconstitutional the court went on to hold that due to the invalidity of the Maryland State statute the plaintiffs would inherit under the intestacy law as it would be applied by the State court. Since the children would be entitled to inherit under State law they met the criteria of section 216(h)(2)(A) and were therefore entitled to benefits as the children of the deceased wage earner.
Since the Allen decision ruled that the Maryland intestacy law prior to January 1, 1970, was unconstitutional, a question arises regarding the standard to be used in determining whether a child had inheritance rights in cases where the wage earner died domiciled in Maryland prior to 1970.
POLICY STATEMENT: In order to provide standards for determining inheritance rights in Maryland where the wage earner died prior to January 1970, policy is being changed and the January 1970 standard will be applied in cases arising prior to 1970. Thus, using the post-January 1970 standard any illegitimate child determined by the Secretary to be the biological child of a male wage earner who died domiciled in Maryland prior to January 1, 1970, will be considered the wage earner's child under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act. Such persons shall also be considered dependent on their biological father for purposes of entitlement to child's benefits under section 202(d).
EFFECTIVE DATE: This policy is applicable to claims pending for decision before The Social Security Administration on or after July 10, 1978, the date of the district court decision in Allen v. Califano.
CROSS-REFERENCES: Claims Manual section 2422 (Maryland).
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