This responds to your memorandum of November 22, 1978 requesting our opinion as to
whether Joel B. T~ qualifies for child's insurance benefits as the child of the deceased
wage earner, Moses T~
The deceased wage earner and Tersita T~ were married in the Philippines on January
20, 1968 and Joel was born on June 12, 1972. Hospital and civil records identify Moses
and Tersita as Joel's natural parents. Additionally, both Moses and Tersita signed
statements on June 11, 1974, which are supported by disinterested third parties, that
Joel is their natural child born during their wedlock.
Moses T~ died on July 10, 1974. Thereafter, on August 28 and October 16, 1974, Tersita
signed statements that Moses was not Joel's natural father. She identified the man
she had been living with since the WE's death as Joel's natural father. Her statement
alleges that she and Moses never had sexual intercourse. The paramour also made a
written statement that he, not the DWE, was Joel's natural father.
On September 6, 1977 Tersita filed application for child's insurance benefits on Joel's
behalf. She also filed a statement refuting her prior statements that Moses T~ was
not Joel's natural father. This statement was supported by statements from the deceased
wage earner's relatives and disinterested third parties and the paramour who has also
retracted his statement.
Thus, the issue arises as to whether Joel would be considered the child of the deceased
wage earner, despite the conflicting statements concerning his paternity.
We requested information from the Law Library, Library of Congress on whether Joel
would be recognized as the natural child of the deceased wage earner under Philippine
law. We received a report from them which is attached.
According to this report, a child born in lawful wedlock is presumed legitimate. This
presumption is almost conclusive and may only be rebutted by evidence that there is
a physical impossibility of sexual union between the husband and wife, shown beyond
a reasonable doubt. Moreover, the presumption of legitimacy applies despite the mother's
declarations denying her lawful husband's paternity. Therefore, based upon the available
evidence it appears that under the law of the Philippines, Joel would be recognized
as the legitimate child of the deceased wage earner.
Although the information provided by the Library of Congress report resolves the questions
of Philippine law, in cases where the deceased wage earner died domiciled outside
of the United States, the law of the District of Columbia is applied in determining
The Regional Attorney, Philadelphia has informed us that the courts of the District
of Columbia would recognize a legitimate status under Philippine law created by a
conclusive presumption and therefore, defer to the applicable Philippine law (which
in this case presumes legitimacy). Therefore, we conclude that Joel T~ would be presumed
to be the legitimate child of the wage earner for purposes of inheritance of intestate
personal property under section 216(h)(2)(i) of the Act.