I. Question Presented:
This is with reference to your request for a legal opinion concerning the applicability
to this case of an earlier opinion of this office. Rosemary P~ applied for child's
insurance benefits on behalf of her son, Joseph A. L~~ on April 27, 1982. The application
is based on the account of a retire wage-earner, William F. L~ You have asked whether
the Regional Attorney's opinion in the matter of L. G~ on the record of Delmar, B~
A/N~, RA V (P~ to Reg. Rep. BRSI (B~), 6/24/69 is applicable to the instant case.
We believe that Delmar B~ supra, is distinguishable, and that the Illinois court order
to William L~ ordering payment to Rosemary P~ was made in part to support Joseph because
Joseph L~ was the child of William L~.
A. Federal Statutory Background
Under Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III), of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §416(h)(3)(A)(i)(III),
an applicant may be deemed the child of an individual if the applicant is the biological
child of the individual  and if the individual "has been ordered by a court to contribute to the support of
the applicant because the applicant is his son or daughter." See POMS GN §§00306.185, 00306.200. The legislative history of Section 216(h) (3)(A) -
(i)(III) indicates that its purpose was to entitle a child to benefits "without regard
to whether he has the status of a child under State inheritance laws if the father
was supporting the child or had the legal obligation to do so." 1965 U.S. Code Cong.
& Ad. News 1958. The legislative history also reiterates the purpose of child's benefits
— to replace support lost by a child when his father retires, dies, or becomes disabled.
1965 U.S. Code Cong. & Ad. News 2050.
We agree with you that it would be inappropriate to construe §216(h)(3)(A) (i)(III),
as Delmar B~, supra, appears to construe it to require the putative father's admission
of paternity or a judicial finding of paternity. Rules of statutory construction support
that interpretation. "A statute should be construed so that effect is given to all
its provisions, so that no part will be inoperative or superfluous, void or insignificant,
and so that one section will not destroy another .... "C. Sands, Statutes and Statutory
Construction §46.06 (1973).
Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(I) provides for entitlement to child's benefits through a
written acknowledgment. Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(II) provides for entitlement to child's
benefits through a court decree of paternity. Therefore, reading §216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III)
as requiring either an acknowledgment or court decree of paternity would render the
subsection superfluous, since any child who satisfied its conditions would also satisfy
the conditions of one of the other above-cited subsections. Insofar as Delmar B~,
supra, construes §216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III) to require either a written acknowledgment
of paternity or a judicial finding of paternity, it is overruled.
B. Illinois Statutory Background
Moreover, we agree with you, based on Illinois law, that the court order incorporating
the settlement in this case constitutes a court order for support. The Illinois Paternity
act contains a specific provision dealing with settlement of paternity actions when,
as here, paternity is not acknowledged. Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 40, §1360 (Section 9A
of the Illinois Paternity Act) states, in full:
In cases where the putative father has not acknowledged paternity and where the parties
have requested a settlement, the court shall review the proposed settlement in light
of the allegations made, the probable evidence and the circumstances of the parties.
If the court is satisfied the best interests of the child and of the parties will
be served by entry of an order incorporating the settlement, and if it is satisfied
that the financial security of the child is adequately provided for and that the child
and its mother are not likely to become public charges, it may enter an order to that
effect. The order may be directed to the defendant, or the mother, or both.
Important in our consideration is the fact that this statute imposes several duties
on the trial court: 1) to review the proposed settlement in the light of allegations,
probable evidence, and circumstances of the parties; 2) trial court must satisfy itself
that best interests of child and of parties will be served by entry of an "order incorporating
the settlement;" 3) satisfy itself that financial security of the child is provided
for; and 4) satisfy itself that child and mother will not become public charges. If
the trial court satisfies all those prerequisites "it may enter an order to that effect,"
i.e., incorporating the settlement. Implicit in these prerequisites is the requirement
that "the probable evidence" should support the allegations of paternity and considered
as a whole, paternity is likely.
Unlike cases where paternity is acknowledged or found, an order incorporating such
settlements under Section 9A of the Illinois Paternity Act, quoted above, is final
and may not later be reopened or supplemented. In Fitzgerald v. Theisin, lO1 Ill. App.3d 193, 427 N.E.2d 1044 (2nd Dist. 1981) the court stated:
Read in pari materia Sections 9 and 9A establish a legislative design wherein fathers
who have either acknowledged paternity or have been adjudicated the father are subject
to supplementary orders for support, maintenance, education, and welfare of their
children under Section 9. Putative fathers who have not acknowledged paternity and
have not been adjudicated the father of the child but enter into settlements with
the mother are not subject to supplementary orders... 427 N.E.2d at 1046.
Finally, because Section 9A of the Illinois Paternity Act phrases the outcome as a
court "order" incorporating the settlement, we believe payments made pursuant thereto
are payments made pursuant to a court order. Hence, we believe they are payments because
the wage earner "has been ordered by a court to contribute to the support of" the
applicant within the meaning of Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III) of the Act.
C. Court Order In This Case
Under the Order entered in this case, filed on October 27, 1966, incorporating the
settlement dated October 7, 1966, the court ordered wage earner, by name, to pay $4,000.00
to claimant's mother. The settlement, incorporated by the court order, makes clear
that the payments to be made by the wage earner are to claimant's mother "individually
and on behalf of herself and her minor child, called Joseph A. L. ..." While that
indicates that the settlement was not for the child alone, the settlement also declares
that claimant's mother and the wage earner "are desirous of entering into a settlement
to provide for the support and maintenance of said minor child,..." (emphasis added).
Hence, we conclude that payments under the court order incorporating this settlement
were, at least in part, for the support of claimant here. As such it satisfies the.
identification requirement of POMS G 00306.185. final question is whether the payments
were ordered "because the applicant [was] his son or daughter."
D. The Delmar B~ Opinion
In a case involving a child of a decedent claiming under Section 216(h)- (3)(C)(i)(III),
(substantially identical to Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III) for our purposes) this office
stated that a settlement agreement without acknowledgment of paternity, even though
incorporated into a court order, did not comply with section 216(h)(3)(C)(i)(III)
because "there was no tenable basis for concluding that this was an order directing
the decedent to contribute to the support of the child-claimant because she was his
daughter." Delmar B~ A/N, RA V (P~~) to BRSI, Chicago Payment Center (B~) 6/24/69(emphasis
Because the judicial functions necessary before a settlement can be incorporated into
a court order in Illinois are documented in this case, we believe that payments in
this case were ordered because of the allegations of paternity, the probable evidence
(the court heard the mother's testimony and blood test results had been sent to the
court and are contained in the file), and because the child and mother would thereby
not become public charges. In sum, payments were ordered because the claimant was
most likely the child of the wage earner.
With respect to this particular case, we note that court docket entries show that
the putative father, William L~, obtained counsel and was represented throughout the
entire proceeding. Most important, the docket testimony of the complaining witness,
Rosemary P~, with both counsel present, before approving the settlement agreement.
Considered with the fact that blood test evidence was also in the court file, we believe
that this settlement was approved by the court, under Section 9A of the Illinois Paternity
Act, because William L~ was most likely the father of claimant Joseph L~
We have reexamined the Delmar B~ claims folder. There is no indication that the court
therein evaluated the evidence as mandated by Section 9A of the Illinois Paternity
Act. While the opinion, supra, appears to be correct based on the facts therein, we
believe that a settlement of a paternity action prior to judgment, such as this one,
may be made by both parties for a variety of reasons, e.g., desire of the putative
father to avoid a final determination (with its potentially greater financial obligations)
or publicity, or extreme need of the mother and illegitimate child, etc. Those reasons
may or may not be related to whether or not the putative father is the biological
father of the child. But, we believe that the scheme of Section 9A of the Illinois
Paternity Act, requiring a judge to consider certain matters including the probable
evidence, before entering an order incorporating the settlement evinces a legislative
intent that the court approve a settlement and order support pursuant thereto when
the defendant is the father of the child, i.e., because he is the father of the child.
 Cf. Social Security Ruling 67-59.
Therefore, we believe that our opinion in Delmar B~ A/N ~ RA V (P~) to Reg. Rep. BRSI
(B~ 6/24/69 should be distinguished  insofar as it infers that an order incorporating a settlement under Section 9A of
the Illinois Paternity Act' may never be considered an order for support "because
he was his child."
In sum, we conclude that the Illinois court order entered in this case under Section
9A of the Illinois Paternity Act may be considered an order for support because claimant
was William L~ son, and therefore entitling Joseph L~ to benefits under Section 216(h)(3)(A)(i)(III)
of the Act.