SSR 68-21: SECTION 216(h)(2)(A). -- RELATIONSHIP -- ACKNOWLEDGMENT OR RECOGNITION OF PARENT -- PUERTO RICO
20 CFR 404.1101 and 404.1110(c)
- Where the worker, born of a meretricious relationship, was raised and supported by the claimant as her child, both were known in the community in which they lived as parent and child, the worker had stated the claimant was his mother on his application for a social security account number many years before, and the claimant had stated that the worker was her child held, under Puerto Rican law, where a mother's maternity of her child is established, the mother who "voluntarily recognized" the worker as her child is considered the worker's mother, has inheritance rights in the worker's estate and thereby qualifies as the worker's "parent" under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act for purposes of entitlement to parent's insurance benefits.
F and W did not marry but cohabited for a period of 35 years until F's death in 1952. During this period, R, one of 10 children, was born of the relationship. although both parties were free to marry at the time of R's conception and birth in 1924 in Puerto Rico, they had not done so. In 1955, R, the worker, in applying for a social security account number, identified W as his maternal parent. Upon R's death in January 1965, W filed application for parent's insurance benefits on R's earnings record. Neither a birth record nor baptismal record was found for R. However, in claiming parent's insurance benefits, W has stated that R was her child, that she had reared R and that they were known as parent and child in the Puerto Rican community in which they lived.
Section 202(h)(3) of the Social Security Act, for the purpose of entitlement to parent's insurance benefits, defines the term "parent" in pertinent part as follows:
- (3) * * * the mother or father of an individual, a stepparent * * *, or an adopting parent * * *.
In addition, section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act states in part:
- In determining whether an applicant is the child or parent of a fully or currently insured individual for purposes of this title, the Secretary shall apply such law as would be applied in determining the devolution of intestate personal property by the courts of the State in which such insured individual is domiciled * * * at the time of his death * * *. Applicants who according to such law would have the same status relative to taking intestate personal property as a child or parent shall be deemed such.
The term "State," as provided by section 210(h) of the Act, includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where R was domiciled at the time of his death.
The question thus presented is whether W may be considered the parent of R under the Puerto Rican law which determines the devolution of intestate personal property, thereby conferring on W the status of R's parent under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act.
Generally, a child and its mother can inherit from each other regardless of the child's legitimacy. In such cases, an illegitimate child has the status of "child" as to the mother, and the mother has the status of a "parent" as to the child. However the laws of Puerto Rico require some recognizing or acknowledging act by the mother before such status can be established.
The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico in June 1963 ruled in the case of Ocasio v. Diaz, No. 85, that from July 25, 1952, with respect to the legal status of children, there were no longer any distinctions based on the circumstances of their birth, i.e., that all children have the status of "children" of their parents to whom they are legally filiated and that, accordingly, all children have equal inheritance rights with respect to such parents. As to children born out of wedlock, their filiation to their natural father, where possible, may be by "voluntary recognition" by the father or may be judicially compelled. Such recognition includes any act or deed, express or implied, by which the child is acknowledged or recognized. See SSR 66-46, C.B. 1966, p.12. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico has ruled in effect that, regardless of when a child was born, the biological parent of a child may voluntarily acknowledge or recognize the child as his or her child and such acknowledgment or recognition makes the child the legal child of the father or mother and confers on such father or mother the legal status of parent of such child.
Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, the sole issue in determining the status of an acknowledged illegitimate child is the biological fact of the alleged parent's paternity or maternity of the child. Where paternity or maternity is established, the natural father or mother acquires the status of "parent," and the child has the status of "child" of the parent, for inheritance purposes under Puerto Rican law.
With respect to the rights of inheritance, Title 31 of the Laws of Puerto Rico Annotated, section 2435 provides:
- The rights of succession which the law grants natural children extends reciprocally in similar cases to the natural father or mother.
W's statements that R was her biological child and that she had raised him in her family, and the fact that they were known as parent and child in the community in which they lived constitute recognition of maternity by W. R's naming of W as his mother when he applied for his social security account number corroborates the filiation of R to W.
Accordingly, it is held that at the time of R's death W had the status of R's parent under the laws of Puerto Rico and, therefore, W qualifies as R's parent under section 216(h)(2) of the Act. Further, since she met all other requirements for entitlement, W is entitled to parent's insurance benefits on R's earnings record.