This is in response to your request for an opinion concerning the effective date of
a parent-child relationship under Massachusetts law. The materials you submitted indicate
that on May 20, 2004, Aileen B~ filed for surviving child benefits on behalf of Tahycha
L. V~, who was born on March 29, 1997. The wage earner, Danny V~, died on December
13, 2003 while domiciled in Massachusetts. There is no indication that the wage earner
and the child's mother were ever married, and there was no acknowledgement of paternity
by the wage earner.
Ms. B~ provided as proof of paternity the results of DNA testing performed on the
mother, the child and the wage earner's parents, certified on April 5, 2004, which
concluded that there was a 99.98% probability that Danny V~ was the child's father.
For the following reasons, it is our opinion that a parent-child relationship cannot
be found to have existed prior to the DNA results certified on April 5, 2004.
Under POMS GN 00306.520, the DNA testing provides clear and convincing evidence that the wage earner was
the child's father. The lack of a court finding of paternity is irrelevant, since
SSA will apply the same standard of proof to determine paternity that a state court
would use. See 20 C.F.R. 404.355(b)(2). Based upon the clear evidence of paternity, the child would
be allowed to inherit from the wage earner under Massachusetts law. However, the DNA
results do not legitimate the child, and would have no retroactive effect under state
law. Accordingly, a parent-child relationship cannot be established prior to April
5, 2004, the date the test results were certified. POMS GN 00306.055.