TN 84 (01-20)

PR 01115.022 Maine

A. PR 19-226 Effect of a de Facto Parent-Child Relationship on Eligibility for Child's Benefits under the Laws of the State of Maine

November 21, 2019

1. Syllabus

The Maine Parentage Act affirms that parentage can be established by an adjudication of de facto parentage.

2. Question Presented

You asked whether the establishment of a de facto parent-child relationship under Maine law could entitle A~ (A~) to child’s benefits on the earnings record of M~, the number holder (NH).

3. Short Answer

Yes. Because A~ could inherit as the NH’s child under Maine intestacy law, we believe SSA should consider A~ to be the child of the NH for purposes of entitlement to child’s benefits beginning on June XX, 2018.

4. Background

The NH is the great-grandmother of A~, who was born on January XX, 2017. A~ filed an application for benefits on the earnings record of the NH. On November XX, 2018, the Maine District Court issued an order stating that the NH is A~’s de facto parent with sole parental rights and responsibilities.

5. Analysis

a. Federal Law

In determining eligibility for child’s benefits under the Social Security Act (the Act), a child is defined as the child, legally adopted child, stepchild, or in limited circumstances, grandchild of an insured individual. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 402(d), 416(e). In determining whether an applicant is the child of an insured individual under the Act, the Commissioner shall apply the law governing the devolution of intestate personal property applied by the courts of the state in which the insured individual is domiciled at the time such applicant files the application. 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b); see also Astrue v. Capato, 566 U.S. 541, 553 (2012).[1] Because the NH was domiciled in Maine when filing the application for benefits, whether A~ can be considered the NH’s child must be determined under Maine intestacy law. Id.

b. State Law

Maine’s law of intestate succession explains that “‘parent’ for purposes of intestate succession means a person who has established a parent-child relationship with the child under Article 9 or Title 19-A, chapter 61 and whose parental rights have not been terminated.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 18-C, § 2-115 (2019). Most pertinent to this inquiry, Title 19-A, chapter 61 is the Maine Parentage Act, which defines a child as “an individual of any age whose parentage may be determined under this chapter.” Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A, § 1832 (2016). The Maine Parentage Act affirms that parentage can be established by an adjudication of de facto parentage. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 19-A, § 1851 (2019).

Here, the Court issued a de facto parent order, which expressly granted the NH’s petition to be acknowledged as A~’s de facto parent. Therefore, the NH established parentage for purposes of Maine’s laws of intestate succession.

Because a Maine court would conclude that A~ is the NH’s child if the NH were to die without a will, we believe that SSA should also consider A~ to be the NH’s child as of June XX, 2018—the date of the court’s de facto parentage order—for the purposes of entitlement to child’s benefits on the NH’s earnings record.

6. Conclusion

Because the NH’s status as the de facto parent of A~ would allow A~ to inherit personal property from the NH pursuant to Maine’s laws of intestate succession, we believe A~ should be considered the child of the NH as of June XX, 2018, for the purposes of determining entitlement to child’s benefits.



This is the only provision of the Act under which the claimant could qualify as the NH’s child, because the other two methods are not applicable to this case. First, the NH did not go through a marriage ceremony with the child’s mother or father, resulting in a purported marriage between them which, but for a legal impediment, would have been a valid marriage. See 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(B). Second, A~ is not the biological child of the NH. See 42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(3); see also POMS GN 00306.100 (Under Section 416(h)(3), the biological son or daughter of an NH may be deemed to be his/her child for benefit purposes regardless of the child’s status under State law if certain requirements are met).

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PR 01115.022 - Maine - 01/28/2020
Batch run: 01/28/2020