TN 9 (11-07)

PR 01310.036 North Carolina

A. PR 08-015 In Re: Karen T. T~, SSN: ~, Adult Child's Benefits on the record of Claude A. M~, her adoptive father, SSN: ~

DATE: October 23, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

Prior to July 1, 1996, the North Carolina statutes contained a provision allowing for adoption of persons who are more than 18 years old. The only requirements for such an adoption were that the person being adopted file written consent to the adoption and that the petition be posted for ten days. In this case, the August 3, 1990 order indicates the court complied with these requirements and the order of adoption is valid.

As long as the adopted child is unmarried and can meet the other requirements for Childhood Disability Benefits, she would be eligible on the deceased number holder's record.

North Carolina law still allows for the adoption of an adult, although under different procedures than allowed at that time.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the Claimant is the adopted child of the number holder for the purposes of disabled adult child's benefits where the number holder adopted the claimant after she attained age eighteen.

ANSWER

For the reasons stated below, we conclude that the claimant is the adopted child of the number holder because the adoption was valid under then-existing North Carolina law and the August 3, 1990, order of adoption remains in force, unless challenged by the claimant's mother or the claimant's biological father.

BACKGROUND

Karen T. T~ (Claimant), currently receives child's insurance benefits (CIB) on the earnings record of her biological father, William T~ (biological father). She also receives Supplemental Security Income under her own account. On May 11, 1982, Claimant's mother, Lorraine L. T~ M~, married Claude A. M~, the number holder (NH). They divorced on June 13, 1990. Two months later on August 3, 1990, NH adopted Claimant, then age 27, as an adult in Craven County, North Carolina. NH died, but the date of his death is not given. We presume that Claimant applied for benefits as NH's child after NH's death, however, the application date was also not provided.

DISCUSSION

To qualify for CIB on the earnings record of an insured individual who has died, a claimant must be the insured individual's child. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d), 42 U.S.C. § 402(d); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(1) (2007). "Child" includes the adopted child of an insured individual. See Act § 216(e), 42 U.S.C. § 416(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.354. To qualify as an adopted child of an insured individual, a claimant must qualify as the insured individual's adopted child under the adoption laws of the state or foreign country where the adoption took place. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.356. A claimant claiming to be the adopted child of an insured individual must also show that he or she was dependent upon the insured individual. See Act § 202(d)(1)(C); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(2). A claimant who (1) was legally adopted by the insured individual before the insured became entitled to old-age or disability benefits or (2) applies for child's benefits after the death of the insured individual is considered dependant upon the insured individual. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.362(a).

The information provided indicates NH adopted Claimant in North Carolina in 1990. Thus, to determine whether this adoption is valid, North Carolina law controls. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.356. Presently, North Carolina law allows for the adoption of an adult. See N.C. GEN STAT. ANN. § 48-5-101 to 103 (2007) (containing provisions outlining adoption of an adult); see also N.C. GEN STAT. ANN. §§ 48-1-103 (2007) (indicating broadly that "an individual" may be adopted); 48-2-304(e) (2007) (indicating notice provisions for petitions to adopt an adult); 48 2 605 (2007) (indicating procedures for a hearing on a petition to adopt an adult). These provisions were first enacted by N.C. SESSION LAWS OF 1995, c. 457 (effective July 1, 1996). Prior to that time, the North Carolina statutes contained a similar provision allowing for adoption of persons who are more than 18 years old. See N.C. GEN STAT. ANN. § 48-36 (1990). The only requirements for such an adoption were that the person being adopted file written consent to the adoption and that the petition be posted for ten days. See id. at (a). The August 3, 1990, order indicates the court complied with these requirements. Thus, once the final order of adoption was signed, it had the "force and effect" of all the presumptions attached to a judgment of a court of general jurisdiction. N.C. GEN STAT. ANN. § 48-28(b) (1990). Therefore, the order of adoption is valid.

Once it determines Claimant is NH's adoptive daughter, the Agency must determine whether she meets the remaining requiremen