TN 8 (12-06)
PR 01010.008 Connecticut
A. PR 07-023 Parent-Child Relationship under Connecticut State Law, George P~, SSN ~
DATE: November 27, 2006
Connecticut law provides that for purposes of intestate succession an individual is the child of her genetic parents regardless of the marital status of such parents.
In a case where the claimant was born of a marriage but later DNA testing rebutted the presumption of legitimacy by the clear, convincing and satisfying standard, that same DNA testing, showing a 99.93 percent probability that the number holder is the actual father may be used to establish a parent-child relationship.
This is in response to your request for an opinion concerning whether a DNA test report is sufficient evidence to establish a parent-child relationship for purposes of determining the child's eligibility for Child's Insurance Benefits (CIB). For the reasons set forth below, we believe that the DNA evidence is sufficient to establish a parent-child relationship.
The child claimant, Rita Georgette D~, was born on April 29, 1993. At the time of her birth, her mother, Diane M~, was married to James R~, and Mr. R~ is stated to be Rita's father on her birth certificate. However, Ms. M~ states that she and Mr. R~ were separated from the summer of 1991 to late 1993, during the time Rita was conceived and born, and states that they did not have a relationship as husband and wife during that time. Her statements are corroborated by written statements from Mr. R~, who denies paternity and states that Ms. M~ had a relationship with the number holder, George P~, and that Rita is Mr. P~'s child. Further, DNA testing evidence completed in 1995 shows a 99.93 probability that the number holder, George P~, is Rita's father. Ms. M~ and Mr. R~ were divorced on May 13, 2002. The divorce judgment states that Rita is a child born after the marriage but that she is not a child of Mr. R~. Mr. P~ died on June 18, 2006, while domiciled in Connecticut.
The Social Security Act ("the Act") provides for the payment of CIB to a child of a number holder who dies when fully or currently insured if the child has filed an application for CIB and was unmarried and under age 18 (or age 19 if a full-time student) at the time the application was filed and was dependent upon the number holder at the time of death. 42 U.S.C. §402(d)(1); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350 (2006); POMS RS 00203.001.A.1. The Act provides that in determining whether a claimant is the child of an insured individual, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") shall apply such law as would be applied in determining the devolution of intestate personal property by the courts of the state where the insured individual is domiciled at the time of application or death. 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b)(4); POMS GN 00306.001.C.2.a.
According to the record, the number holder was a resident of Connecticut at the time of his death. Therefore, we apply Connecticut's law of intestate succession in determining whether the claimant is the number holder's child for purposes of determining CIB eligibility. See 42 U.S.C. 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355; POMS GN 00306.001.C.1.a.
Under Connecticut's intestacy statute, after any distribution of a decedent's estate to a surviving spouse, the residue of the estate is distributed to the decedent's children. CONN. GEN. STAT. § 45a-438(a). Connecticut law provides that a child born in wedlock is presumed to be the legitimate child of her mother and her mother's husband. Weidenbacher v.Dulcos, 661 A.2d 988, 997 (Conn. 1995). However, this presumption may be rebutted by clear, convincing and satisfying evidence that the mother's husband is not the child's father. Id. Connecticut law also provides that for purposes of intestate succession an individual is the child of her genetic parents regardless of the marital status of such parents CONN. GEN. STAT. § 45a-438(b). Under Agency Regulations a claimant is not required to obtain an adjudication of paternity, but rather, the Agency may decide paternity using the standard of proof that the state court would use as the basis for a paternity determination. 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b)(2); POMS GN 00306.440.B.3.
Connecticut courts determine paternity based on a preponderance of the evidence. Palomba v. Gray, 543 A.2d 1331, 1334 (Conn. 1988). With respect to DNA test results, Connecticut law provides as follows:
[T]he results of such genetic tests … shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the putative father is the father of the child if the results of such tests indicate a ninety-nine per cent or greater probability that he is the father of the child, provided the petitioner has presented evidence that sexual intercourse occurred between the mother and the putative father during the period of time in which the child was conceived.
CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46b-168(b). Connecticut courts appear to have endorsed the use of genetic testing evidence for purposes of adjudicating paternity where the purported father is deceased. See, e.g., Brancato v. Moriscato, No. CV 030472496S, 2003 WL 1090596 at *1 (Conn. Super. Feb. 27, 2003); Lach v. Welch, Civil No. FA 93-0063955, 1994 WL 271518 at *7 (Conn. Super. June 13, 1994).
Here, the claimant submitted a DNA test report dated July 27, 1995, which was based on DNA samples taken from the child claimant, her mother and the number holder prior to his death. The report states that there is a statistical probability of 99.93 percent that the deceased number holder is the claimant's father. The claimant has also submitted evidence of sexual intercourse between the mother and putative father, namely, the statements of Ms. M~ and Mr. R~. See Palomba, 543 A.2d at 1334 (Conn. 1988) (such evidence need only consist of statements from the mother). Under Connecticut law, this DNA test report and other evidence appears to constitute clear and convincing evidence to rebut the presumption that James R~ is the child's father. Guin v. Green, No. 980352681, 1999 WL 259661 at * 1 (Conn. Super. Apr. 13, 1999). Moreover, this evidence constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the number holder, George P~, is the child's father. CONN. GEN. STAT. § 46b-168(b); POMS GN 00306.440.D. Accordingly, we believe the DNA test report and other evidence submitted in this claim is sufficient to establish a parent-child relationship between the child and the number holder under Connecticut law.
We believe that the Connecticut courts would find that Rita could inherit from the deceased number holder as his child under Connecticut's intestacy statute. Therefore, we believe that Rita qualifies as the number holder's child for purposes of entitlement to CIB.