PR 01310.055 Wisconsin
A. PR 02-118 Wisconsin — Validity of Adult Adoption Larry E. G~, SSN ~, Wage Earner Gary L. B~, Applicant for Child's Insurance Benefits
DATE: August 6, 2001
Under Wisconsin law, an adult may be adopted by any other adult who is a Wisconsin resident if certain requirements are met. In this cases, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the statement in the order for adoption that all legal requirements have been met is sufficient to establish that the adoption of the disabled adult meets the definition of "child" for purposes of child's insurance benefits.
You inquired whether the adoption of Gary L. B~, a disabled adult, by wage earner Larry E. G~ and his wife Lois G~ is valid under Wisconsin law. We conclude that the adoption is valid under Wisconsin law and that Mr. B~ meets the definition of legally adopted child for child's insurance benefits purposes.
Mr. G~ is currently receiving Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB). His RIB date of entitlement is November 1998. He and his wife were the foster parents of Gary L. B~, a disabled adult who is currently receiving SSI benefits. On July 3, 2000, the Circuit Court of Columbia County, Wisconsin entered an Order of Adoption, granting Mr. and Mrs. G~' petition to adopt Mr. B~. The order states that it is an adult adoption and that “[a]ll legal requirements have been met.” On July 27, 2001, the same court issued Letters of Guardianship. The Letters of Guardianship state that Mr. B~ is an incompetent and appoint Mr. and Mrs. G~ as his legal guardians. Mrs. G~ has filed an application, on Mr. B~'s behalf, for disabled child's insurance benefits on Mr. G~' account.
Mr. B~ is entitled to Title II child's benefits on Mr. G~' account if (1) he is Mr. G~' child; (2) he is dependent on Mr. G~; (3) he files an application, or one is filed on his behalf; (4) he is unmarried; and (5) as a person over the age of eighteen, he was under a disability that began prior to age twenty-two. See 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350. A “child” includes an individual's legally adopted child. 42 U.S.C. § 416(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.356. In determining whether a child is the wage earner's legally adopted child, we apply the adoption laws of the State where the adoption took place. 20 C.F.R. § 404.356. An adoption is legal if it complies with the adoption laws of the State where the adoption took place and at least one party to the adoption was domiciled or residing in that State at the time of the adoption. POMS GN 00306.135.
Under Wisconsin law, an adult may be adopted by any other adult who is a Wisconsin resident. Wisconsin Statutes Annotated (WSA) § 882.01. The adult to be adopted and the petitioner's spouse, if (s)he has not joined in the petition for adoption, must file a written consent to the adoption. WSA § 882.02. The adoption petition must be filed in the county where the petitioner resides. WSA § 882.03. The circuit court in that county must hold a hearing, at which the petitioner and the prospective adoptee must be present. WSA §§ 882.03-882.04. The court also conducts an investigation to the extent it considers advisable. WSA § 882.04. Upon a finding that it is in the best interests of the persons involved, the court may grant an order of adoption. WSA § 882.04. The order of adoption has the same legal consequences as an order of adoption for a minor, i.e., the petitioner and adoptee have the same relationship, and the same rights and duties, as those of a natural parent and child. WSA § 882.04.
The Order for Adoption in this case appears to be a standard form, on which the Court checks the boxes next to the applicable statements. In this case, there is an “x” in the box next to the statement, “This is an adult adoption. All legal requirements have been met. The petitioner's name is Larry F. G~ and Lois A. G~.” The form is signed by a circuit court judge. The Order for Adoption does not enumerate findings as to each of the statutory requirements for an adult adoption. We conclude, however, that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Court's statement that all of the legal requirements have been met is sufficient to establish that Mr. B~'s adoption is legal under Wisconsin law. Therefore, we conclude that Mr. B~ meets the definition of “child” for child's insurance benefits purposes. See 42 U.S.C. § 416(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.356.
In summary, we conclude that Mr. B~'s adoption by Mr. G~ is legal under Wisconsin law and, therefore, Mr. B~ meets the definition of “child” for purposes of entitlement to child's insurance benefits under the Social Security Act.
Thomas W. C~
Regional Chief Counsel