SSR 65-18: SECTION 202(d). -- CHILD'S INSURANCE BENEFITS -- LEGAL ADOPTION INSTITUTED BY WORKER IN OR BEFORE MONTH PERIOD OF DISABILITY BEGAN
- Where a worker applied with a recognized adoption agency for adoption of a child and later became entitled to a period of disability before actually receiving the child for adoption; where the worker legally adopted the child within 24 months after the month of the worker's entitlement to disability insurance benefits; and where the worker subsequently filed an application for child's insurance benefits on behalf of the adopted child, held, the institution of proceedings for adoption of the child with the adoption agency was "institution" of adoption "proceedings," as is contemplated by section 202(d)(1)(C) of the Social Security Act, so that the date of filing of the application for child's insurance benefits may be used in determining whether the dependency requirement has been met.
Pursuant to his applications therefor, a period of disability beginning August 1962 was established for R and he became entitled to disability insurance benefits in March 1963, upon completion of the 6-month waiting period. In January 1961, R and his wife had applied to an adoption agency, and several weeks later were approved by the agency for placement of a child. In December 1962, the adoption agency placed C, a child born in that month, in R's home where he has lived ever since, receiving his entire support from R. In July 1963 legal proceedings were filed in the appropriate court, which entered a decree of adoption of C by R and his wife, effective November 1963. On January 10, 1964, R filed an application for child's insurance benefits on behalf of C.
Whether C is entitled to child's insurance benefits on R's earnings record depends upon whether C meets the dependency requirements of section 202(d)(1) of the Act at the pertinent time. (All other requirements for entitlement to such benefits were met.)
Section 202(d)(1)(C), as relevant here, provides that a child of an insured individual shall be entitled to child's insurance benefits if, among other things, he:
- (C) was dependent upon such individual --
(i) if such individual is living, at the time such application [for
child's insurance benefits] was filed,
* * * * * * *
- (iii) if such individual had a period of disability which continued until he became entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits * * * at the beginning of such period of disability or at the time he became entitled to such benefits, * * *.
Section 202(d)(1) further provides that:
- In the case of an individual entitled to disability insurance benefits, the provisions of clause (i) of subparagraph (C) of this paragraph shall not apply to a child of such individual unless he (A) is the natural child or stepchild of such individual (including such a child who was legally adopted by such individual) or (B) was legally adopted by such individual before the end of the twenty-four month period beginning with the month after the month in which such individual most recently became entitled to disability insurance benefits, but only if (i) proceedings for such adoption of the child had been instituted by such individual in or before the month in which began the period of disability of such individual which still exists at the time of such adoption or (ii) such adopted child was living with such individual in such month.
In order to meet the dependency requirements of section 202(d)(1)(C) at any of the times specified therein, the necessary parent-child relationship must have existed at that time. Since C's adoption occurred in November 1963, C did not have the status as R's child either at the beginning of R's period of disability in August 1962 or at the time R became entitled to disability insurance benefits in March 1963. Therefore, C may be entitled only if the date of his application for child's insurance benefits, January 10, 1964, may be used for the purpose of determining whether he meets the dependency requirement.
Since C is not R's natural child or stepchild, but is his legally adopted child, dependency as of the date of C's application may be considered only if (1) C was legally adopted by R before the end of March 1965, the 24th month after the month R most recently became entitled to disability benefits, and (2) C was living with R in August 1962, the month in which R's period of disability began, or proceedings for the adoption of C had been instituted by R in or before that month. It is clear that C was legally adopted before March 1965, but since C was not living with R in August 1962, C's entitlement to benefits depends upon whether proceedings for his adoption were instituted by R in or before August 1962.
The purpose of section 202(d)(1), as applicable to an adopted child is to permit a child to whom the worker has no actual parental relationship prior to becoming disabled to qualify for benefits after onset of the disability where some specific step toward the child's adoption was at least begun before the onset of the worker's period of disability and, at the same time, to provide a safeguard against an adoption undertaken after the onset of the worker's disability for the sole purpose of qualifying a child for benefits. Accordingly, under the limitation imposed in section 202(d)(1), for a child who is legally adopted within 24 months after the worker becomes entitled to disability insurance benefits to qualify for child's benefits (where the child was not living with the worker in the month the worker became entitled to disability benefits), some "proceedings" for the adoption must have been "instituted" before the worker's period of disability began. The legislative history of this provision indicates that it is to be construed broadly, and that the adoption proceedings include proceedings and arrangements with licensed adoption agencies or other qualified persons, as well as actual court proceedings for the adoption of a child. (Senate Report No. 1856, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 36.)
In this case, R had executed a general application for an adoptive placement with the adoption agency in January 1961 and the legal adoption of C was completed in November 1963. It is thus apparent that R had a good faith adoptive intent prior to the onset of his disability. Accordingly, it is held that the initial general application for adoption filed by R was an institution of proceedings for adoption as is contemplated by section 202(d)(1)(C) of the Act; that C was legally adopted within 24 months after the month in which R became entitled to disability insurance benefits; that C was dependent on R on January 10, 1964, the date of his application for child's insurance benefits; and that, all other requirements having been met, he is entitled to child's insurance benefits beginning November 1963, the month he first acquired status as R's child.
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