TN 5 (06-07)

PR 01805.020 Kentucky

A. PR 07-134 Termination of Parental Rights Deceased Number Holder (NH) - James A~ Claimant - Ethan A~

DATE: May 15, 2007

1. SYLLABUS

Under Kentucky law, an unadopted child retains the right to inherit from a parent whose parental rights were terminated.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a claimant who is a current Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient may also be eligible for child's insurance benefits on the earnings record of the father, deceased while residing in Kentucky, whose parental rights were terminated.

ANSWER

Yes. Under Kentucky law, an unadopted child retains the right to inherit from a parent whose parental rights were terminated. Therefore, this claimant can qualify as the deceased father's child for child's insurance benefits purposes.

BACKGROUND

Ethan A~ (Claimant) is an eighteen-year-old SSI recipient. On October 29, 1997, the Cabinet for Families and Children, Frankfurt, Kentucky, terminated the parental rights of his father, James A~, NH), due to abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Claimant became a ward of the state and has not been adopted. NH died on January 17, 2004, while domiciled in Kentucky.

DISCUSSION

To qualify for child's benefits on the earnings record of an insured individual who has died, a claimant must be that individual's child. See Social Security Act (Act) § 202(d), 42 U.S.C.§ 402(d); 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a)(1) (2006). "Child" is defined as the child, adopted child or stepchild of an insured individual. See Act § 216(e), 42 U.S.C. § 416(e); 20 C.F.R. § 404.354 (2006). To establish his status as the surviving child of the deceased NH under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act, Claimant must show that he would be entitled to a child's share of the NH's intestate personal property under the law of the state in which the NH was domiciled at the time of his death. See Act § 216(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(a)(1) (2006). NH was a resident of Kentucky at the time of his death. Therefore Kentucky's law of intestate succession applies in determining the child claimant's status as the lineal descendant of the NH for purposes of section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act. See Act § 216(h)(2)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.355(b).

Generally in Kentucky, termination of parental rights terminates all legal obligations. "Termination of parental rights, whether voluntary or involuntary, once legally adjudicated severs all relationship of parent and child as if the same had never existed." Hicks v. Enlow, 764 S.W.2d 68, 71 (Ky. 1989). However, the Kentucky Revised Statutes provide specific exceptions for inheritance rights of a child who has not been adopted, for both voluntary and involuntary terminations. "Following the entry of an order voluntarily terminating parental rights in a child, the child shall retain the right to inherit from his parent under the laws of descent and distribution until the child is adopted." KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 625.044 (2006). "Following the entry of an order involuntarily terminating parental rights in a child, the child shall retain the right to inherit from his parent under the laws of descent and distribution until the child is adopted." KY. REV. STAT. ANN. §625.104 (2006). Therefore, Claimant retains inheritance rights from NH and would be considered the child of NH under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act..

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe Claimant would be considered NH's child for child's insurance benefits purposes.

Mary A. S~ III
Chief Counsel, Region VII

By
Rollin M~
Assistant Regional Counsel


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1501805020
PR 01805.020 - Kentucky - 10/20/2011
Batch run: 10/20/2011
Rev:10/20/2011