TN 40 (11-17)

GN 00306.290 Definition of Number Holder’s Stepchild – Hutcheson v. Califano Acquiescence Ruling for Title II Child’s Benefits

Citations:

Hutcheson v. Califano, 638 F.2d 96 (9th Cir. 1981), AR 86-12(9)

A. Policy for the Hutcheson acquiescence ruling (AR)

Follow these instructions to apply the Hutcheson AR.

1. Issue in the Hutcheson ruling

In the case of Hutcheson, the court ruled that State law controls the definition of the stepchild-stepparent relationship.

Hutcheson applies only to determine a stepchild relationship. For other factors of entitlement, e.g. duration or dependency, apply standard instructions.

When the claim involves a stepchild of a same-sex relationship, see GN 00210.505.

2. Applicability of the Hutcheson ruling

Apply the Hutcheson ruling at all levels of adjudication if the claimant’s state of residence at the time of the determination or decision is in one of the states in the Ninth Circuit, which include:

  • Alaska

  • American Samoa

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Guam

  • Hawaii

  • Idaho

  • Montana

  • Nevada

  • Northern Mariana Islands

  • Oregon

  • Washington

3. Deduction, termination, and nonpayment events for affected cases

For cases subject to the Hutcheson AR:

  • Do not terminate benefits paid based on applying this ruling because the beneficiary no longer resides in the Ninth Circuit.

  • Apply all deduction, suspension, and nonpayment events listed in RS 00203.030 to the beneficiaries entitled under this ruling.

  • Terminate benefits as instructed in RS 00203.035.

B. Field Office procedures for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR

Follow these instructions and the procedures in GN 00306.001D and GN 00306.001E to develop and process cases subject to the Hutcheson AR.

1. Use State law definition of stepchild relationship for states in the Ninth Circuit

If the appropriate state of domicile is one of the states in the Ninth Circuit, apply the State law of the number holder’s (NH) domicile at the time the application is filed; or, if the NH is deceased, his or her domicile at the time of death according to the State law digest in GN 00306.290C in this section. If there is a definition of stepchild shown for the applicable state, disregard the definition of stepchild in GN 00306.230A.1. If there is no definition of stepchild for the applicable state, follow the instructions in GN 00306.230, including the definition of stepchild in GN 00306.230A.1.

2. Refer cases involving territories in the Ninth Circuit to Regional Chief Counsel (RCC)

If the NH’s domicile is American Samoa, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, check if an existing opinion in PR 01605.000 applies to the claim. If no such opinion exist, request a Regional Chief Counsel (RCC) opinion. To request a new opinion, refer to instructions in GN 01010.815.

3. Processing awards for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR

Follow these instructions when processing awards for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR:

  • Enter the remark “Hutcheson AR” on the Report of Contact (RPOC) screen in the Modernized Claims System (MCS) or the REMARKS field on the Benefit Continuity Factors/Remarks/Notice (BCRN) screen or Electronic Form BCRN (EFBCRN) when processing the claim manually using an Automated 101 (A101) or Electronic Form 101 (EF101).

  • Enter listing code “555” for “Hutcheson AR” on the Decision Input (DECI) screen in MCS.

  • If entitlement of a child results in an adverse adjustment, follow the procedures in GN 01010.330.

  • If entitlement of a child creates an adverse claim, follow the procedures in GN 01010.320. Forward the claim to the servicing Processing Center (PC) as a District Office Final Authorization (DOFA) exclusion (non-DOFA). Record non-DOFA reason code “3” for “ADVERSE CLM” on the Decision Input (DECI) screen in MCS. For more information on non-DOFA claims, see GN 01010.027.

4. Processing disallowances for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR

Follow these instructions when processing disallowances for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR:

  • Before disallowing the claim, consider all options in which we might allow the child’s claim for benefits following the procedures in GN 00306.001D.

  • If there are no such options, disallow the claim under code “34” for “No step-relationship” following procedures in GN 00306.315. For information on documenting a code “34” disallowance, see GN 00306.001E.2.

  • Enter the remark “Hutcheson AR” on the RPOC screen in MCS.

  • Enter listing code “555” for “Hutcheson AR” on the DECI screen in MCS.

C. Processing Center (PC) procedures for cases subject to the Hutcheson AR

Follow these instructions when processing cases in the PC that are subject to the Hutcheson AR:

  • List all cases adjudicated under these procedures under listing code “555” for “Hutcheson AR.”

  • If the claim results in an adverse adjustment, follow the procedures in GN 01010.335.

  • If entitlement of the child creates an adverse claim, follow the procedures in GN 01010.325.

  • After completing all actions, forward the claim to the benefit authorizer (BA) to summarize the award and, when necessary, adjust the rates to currently entitled beneficiaries. Instruct the BA to list the case under code “555.”

D. Stepparent and stepchild definitions - State law digest

State

Definition of stepparent by State law

Alaska

A stepparent is the spouse of a natural parent of the child residing in the same household.

Arizona

Arizona does not define stepparent; however, stepchild is a child of the decedent’s surviving, deceased, or former spouse and not of the decedent.

California

A person becomes a stepparent by marrying the natural parent of the child, and the stepparent-stepchild relationship terminates upon the termination of that marriage.

Hawaii

Hawaii does not define stepparent; however, stepchild is defined as a child of the decedent’s surviving, deceased, or former spouse and not of the decedent.

Idaho

Idaho does not define stepparent nor stepchild. Apply the standard stepchild relationship requirements in GN 00306.230.A.1.

Montana

Montana does not define stepparent nor stepchild. Apply the standard stepchild relationship requirements in GN 00306.230.A.1.

Nevada

Nevada does not define stepparent nor stepchild. Apply the standard stepchild relationship requirements in GN 00306.230.A.1.

Oregon

A stepparent is the spouse of either the natural or adoptive parent.

Washington

A stepparen is the present spouse of the person who is either the mother, father, or adoptive parent of a dependent child.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200306290
GN 00306.290 - Definition of Number Holder's Stepchild - Hutcheson v. Califano Acquiescence Ruling for Title II Child's Benefits - 11/29/2017
Batch run: 11/29/2017
Rev:11/29/2017