Identification Number:
GN 00306 TN 43
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP OISP
Title:Child Relationship and Dependency
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part GN – General
Chapter 003 – Evidence
Subchapter 06 – Child Relationship and Dependency
Transmittal No. 43, 09/13/2019

Audience

PSC: CA, CS, ICDS, IES, ISRA, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: BET, CAQCR, CTE, FCR, FDEC, RECONR;
OCO-ODO: BET, CTE, CTE TE, DEC;
FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, CSR, CTE, DRT, FR, OA, OS, RR, TA, TSC-CSR;

Originating Component

OISP

Effective Date

09/14/2019

Background

The Office of Income Security Programs (OISP) revised this Program Operations Manual System (POMS) transmittal to update the parent-child relationship instructions. These instructions align the child relationship categories with the Social Security Act and Regulations, reflect the current status of child relationship and inheritance law, clarify that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the presumption of parentage for the spouse of the birth mother regardless of the gender of the spouse, and provide guidance on developments in reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy. These instructions coincide with changes to the child relationship categories on the Child Relationship (CREL) screen released on September 14, 2019.

 

Summary of Changes

GN 00306.001 Definitions of Terms Used in Determining Parent-Child Relationship for Title II Benefits

We retitled this POMS section and replaced the original content with SSA's definitions of terms used to determine a parent-child relationship for Title II benefits.

We moved the original content of GN 00306.001 to other POMS sections as follows:

The information about the status of a child under Federal law from GN 00306.001C.1.b was not relocated with the publication of this transmittal, as it is already covered in GN 00306.100.

The field office procedures for developing a child relationship and documenting a disallowance from GN 00306.001D and GN 00306.001E, respectively, were not relocated with the publication of this transmittal, as those procedures are currently covered in GN 00306.315.

 

GN 00306.002 Parent-Child Relationship Categories for Title II Benefits - Overview

This new POMS section reflects changes in our child relationship categories. We will no longer identify children as “Natural Legitimate Child,” “Child of Void or Voidable Marriage,” “Legitimated Child,” or “Illegitimate Child With Inheritance Rights." These are all children under section 216(h)(2) of the Social Security Act through State intestacy law. As such, these categories are now included in one category called "Number Holder's (NH) Child Under State Intestacy Law." This also reflects that many states no longer use terminology such as "illegitimate" and provide avenues for non-marital children to obtain the right to inherit intestate. This new section includes:

  • information about the dependency requirement for Title II child's benefits previously in GN 00306.005, which will be archived with the release of this transmittal;

  • instructions on what to do if a child files a subsequent claim following a disallowance for dependency not met;

  • instructions on what to do if evidence is received after entitlement making a prior determination of a parent-child relationship questionable; and

  • a quick reference chart, similar to the one previously in GN 00306.001B, that shows the child relationship categories, the dependency requirement for each category, the relationship code to be input on the Child Relationship (CREL) screen in the Modernized Claims System (MCS) for each child relationship category, and updated references.

 

GN 00306.005 Change in Domicile

This section will be archived with the release of this transmittal. The information it contained has been incorporated into GN 00306.014.

 

GN 00306.006 Dependency and Existence of Relationship

This section will be archived with the release of this transmittal. The information it contained has been incorporated into GN 00306.002.

 

GN 00306.010 Use of State Intestacy Laws to Make a Title II Parent-Child Relationship Determination - Overview

We retitled this POMS section to more accurately describe its contents and to reflect the changes as described in GN 00306.002 in how we categorize parent-child relationships. The NH's biological child born of a valid marriage is the NH's child under State intestacy law.

We moved:

We eliminated the procedures for developing proof of relationship when the mother was over age 50 when the child was born. We no longer consider this, in itself, a reason to doubt the birth mother-child relationship.

 

GN 00306.011 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Overview

This new section provides an overview about when we may presume a child would inherit from his or her birth mother and the birth mother’s spouse.

 

GN 00306.012 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Child and Birth Mother

This new section provides detailed information about presuming a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law when the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent.

 

GN 00306.013 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Child and Birth Mother's Spouse

This new section provides detailed information about presuming that a child born to a validly married couple is the legal martial child of both the child’s birth mother and her spouse, regardless of the spouse’s gender.

 

GN 00306.014 Use of State Intestacy Laws to Develop Title II Parent-Child Relationship

This new section consolidates information on the use of State intestacy laws to develop a Title II parent-child relationship previously spread throughout several POMS sections, provides more detailed guidance on the use of State intestacy laws to make a parent-child relationship determination, and provides guidance for cases involving surrogacy and posthumous conception.

We moved information about:

  • the status of a child conceived after the NH's death from GN 00306.001C.1.c to GN 00306.014D;

  • establishing paternity for a non-marital child after the NH's death from GN 00306.075B.3 to GN 00306.014E;

  • when a State court determination of paternity is not required from GN 00306.075B.4 to GN 00306.014F;

  • determining which State's intestacy laws apply from GN 00306.001A.2 to GN 00306.014G;

  • when we may look to the law of a State other than the NH's State of domicile from GN 00306.001A.2.d and GN 00306.005 to GN 00306.014H;

  • determining which version of State intestacy law to apply from GN 00306.075B.2 to GN 00306.014I; and

  • State intestacy laws that impose time limits from GN 00306.075B.3 to GN 00306.014J.

 

GN 00306.015 Use of a State Court Judgment or Order to Establish a Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law

We retitled this POMS section, as we removed the information about the presumption of legitimacy and the Lord Mansfield Rule, and used the section to provide guidance on the use of a State court judgment or order to establish a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law. The information about the presumption of legitimacy and the Lord Mansfield Rule that was in this section is covered in GN 00306.020, GN 00306.021, and GN 00306.025.

 

GN 00306.060 Evidence of Parent-Child Relationship - State Law

This section will be archived with the release of this transmittal. The information it contained has been incorporated into GN 00306.010 and GN 00306.011.

 

GN 00306.075 State Laws on Legitimation and Inheritance Rights

This section will be archived with the release of this transmittal. Where appropriate, the information it contained has been incorporated into GN 00306.014.

We moved information about:

  • general policy on the use of State law from GN 00306.075A to GN 00306.014A;

  • which version of State law to apply from GN 00306.075B.2 to GN 00306.014I;

  • State law time limits from GN 00306.075B.3 to GN 00306.014J; and

  • State court determinations of paternity from GN 00306.075B.4 to GN 00306.014F.

We eliminated the general policy that was in GN 00306.075B because the information was about changes to SSA's policy on application of State intestacy law that were effective November 27, 1998. These changes are now current policy, which is provided in GN 00306.014F, GN 00306.014I, and GN 00306.014J.

The information about reopening of disallowed child claims that was in GN 0036.075C is currently covered in GN 00306.310A.

 

GN 00306.275 Application of State Intestacy Statutes - Owens v. Schweiker (Ninth Circuit) - Child Cases (Rescinded 11/27/98)

This section will be archived with the release of this transmittal because this acquiescence ruling was rescinded 11/27/98.

 

Conversion Table
Old POMS ReferenceNew POMS Reference
GN 00306.005Archive
GN 00306.006Archive
GN 00306.060Archive
GN 00306.075Archive
GN 00306.275Archive

GN 00306.001 Definitions of Terms Used in Determining Parent-Child Relationship for Title II Benefits

This section provides the Social Security Administration's definitions of terms used to determine a parent-child relationship for Title II benefits.

NOTE: State law may use a term differently. When used in the context of State law, apply the State's definition unless otherwise indicated.

A. Assisted reproductive technology (ART)

For purposes of these instructions, "assisted reproductive technology" (ART) is the conception of a child via preserved or donated genetic material, i.e., eggs (ova), sperm, an embryo, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of any sort, or a womb. "Assisted reproduction," "assisted reproductive technology," and "artificial reproduction" are all terms for ART. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a form of ART.

NOTE: ART is continuing to evolve, and the laws governing the parent-child relationships that may develop as a result of ART are also evolving. Refer any claim involving ART that is not covered by instructions in GN 00306.000 for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

B. Artificial insemination (AI)

"Artificial insemination" (AI) is the injection of semen into the female reproductive tract other than by sexual intercourse.

C. Biological relationship

A woman is "biologically related" to a child if she contributes genetic material, i.e., an ovum or DNA, to the child.

A man is "biologically related" to a child if he contributes genetic material, i.e., sperm or DNA, to the child.

D. Birth mother

A "birth mother" is the woman who carries and gives birth to a child. A birth mother may or may not contribute her own genetic material, i.e., DNA, to the child. Traditionally, State law presumes a birth mother to be the legal mother of the child to whom she gave birth. Adoption, surrogacy, or ART may provide exceptions to this presumption.

E. Conception

"Conception" is the moment a fertilized egg (ovum) implants in a woman's womb.

F. Domicile

A "domicile" is the place where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home to which he or she has the intention of returning whenever away. Every person has a domicile and can have only one domicile at a time.

G. Gestation

"Gestation" is the period during which a birth mother carries a child in her womb.

H. Illegitimate child

An "illegitimate child" is a child who is born to parents who are not married to each other, i.e., born out of wedlock or a non-marital child.

Section 202(d)(3) of the Social Security Act (Act) references legitimacy with respect to the dependency requirement for child's benefits (see GN 00306.002C).

I. Intended parent(s)

The "intended parent(s)," also known as "commissioning parent(s)" or "contracting parent(s)" is (are) the parent(s) who arrange(s) for the conception and gestation of a child using ART or AI.

J. Intestate

If an individual dies "intestate," this means he or she dies without a legal will. When this occurs, a State's intestacy laws govern who is eligible to inherit an individual's personal property.

K. Legal child

A "legal child" is a child for whom the State law of the State in which a living number holder (NH) is domiciled, or a deceased NH was domiciled at the time of their death, established a parent-child relationship that conveys inheritance rights.

L. Legal marital child

A "legal marital child," often referred to as a child "born in wedlock" or a "legitimate child," is a child who is born of a valid marriage, including common-law (where recognized), void, voidable, and same-sex marriages, and certain non-marital legal relationships (NMLR).

NOTE: Refer all cases involving children born to NMLRs for a legal opinion (see GN 00306.013A).

M. Legitimate child

A "legitimate child," often referred to as a child "born in wedlock" or a "legal marital child," is a child who is born of a valid marriage, including common-law (where recognized), void, voidable, and same-sex, and certain NMLRs.

Section 202(d)(3) of the Act references legitimacy with respect to the dependency requirement for child's benefits (see GN 00306.002C).

N. Legitimizing event

A "legitimizing event" is an act specified in a State's laws that grants legal status to a nonmarital child (see the State Law Digest in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680).

NOTE: We consider a child "legitimated" after birth to have been legitimate as of the date of birth. A legitimated child has intestate inheritance rights in the NH's estate. Many States no longer distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate children for parent-child relationship purposes. "Legitimate" often references a child born during a marriage.

O. Natural child

Under 20 C.F.R. § 404.355, a "natural child" is a child who can establish a parent-child relationship with the insured under section 216(h)(2) or section 216(h)(3) of the Act.

How a State defines "natural child," if this term is used in State law, may differ from how we define "natural child" for Title II purposes. Whether a State refers to a "natural child" and how a State defines a "natural child" does not control our determination of "natural child" for Title II purposes.

NOTE: We deem a child who can establish natural child status under the Act and Regulations dependent upon the insured (see chart in GN 00306.002F).

1. Natural child under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act (State law)

To determine a child's status under State law, we consider whether the child could inherit from the NH, as the NH's child, if the NH were to die intestate. Under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act, a child who can legally inherit the NH's personal property as the NH's child under State intestacy law is a "natural child" for Title II benefits.

Some states apply presumptions that allow a non-biological child to inherit from the NH under State intestacy law without the parent adopting the child. Therefore, in those states a "natural child" does not need to be a biological child of the NH or child of a birth mother to inherit under State intestacy law.

For instructions on establishing status as a natural child under State law, refer to GN 00306.010 through GN 00306.015.

2. Natural child under sections 216(h)(2)(B) and 216(h)(3) of the Act (Federal law)

Federal law provides alternatives to State law criteria to establish a parent-child relationship in sections 216(h)(2)(B) and 216(h)(3) of the Act. These sections of the Act require the child to be the NH's "son or daughter." Thus, we require a biological relationship between the NH and the child in order to find a parent-child relationship under Federal law. For definition of biological relationship, see GN 00306.001C. If a child is the NH's biological child and meets the additional requirements of section 216(h)(2)(B) or section 216(h)(3) of the Act, consider such a child a "natural child."

For instructions on establishing status as a natural child under Federal law, refer to GN 00306.090 through GN 00306.125.

P. Posthumous child

A "posthumous child" is a child conceived while the NH is living but born after the NH's death.

NOTE: A posthumous child is not the same as a "posthumously conceived child." For definition of posthumously conceived child, see GN 00306.001Q.

Q. Posthumously conceived child

A "posthumously conceived child" is a child conceived through ART or AI after the NH's death using the NH's preserved genetic material, i.e., ovum or sperm. For a definition of ART, see GN 00306.001A. For a definition of AI, see GN 00306.001B. Contrast with "posthumous child" in GN 00306.001P.

NOTE: A posthumously conceived child can only be entitled if he or she has inheritance rights under applicable State intestacy law (see GN 00306.014D).

R. State

For purposes of parent-child relationship determinations, "State" includes the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands (beginning 9/1/1950), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (beginning 1/1/1951), Guam (beginning 1/1/1961), American Samoa (beginning 1/1/1961), and the Northern Mariana Islands (beginning 1/9/1978).

S. Surrogacy

"Surrogacy" is the practice by which a traditional or gestational surrogate becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby for the intended parent(s). For definition of intended parent(s), see GN 00306.001I.

NOTE: When a claim involves surrogacy, see GN 00306.014C.

1. Traditional surrogate

A "traditional surrogate" is a woman who carries and gives birth to a child using her own egg and the intended father's sperm, or a donor's sperm, through ART as defined in GN 00306.001A or AI as defined in GN 00306.001B.

2. Gestational surrogate

A "gestational surrogate," also known as a "gestational carrier," is a woman who carries and gives birth to a child using the intended mother's egg, or a donor's egg, and the intended father's sperm, or a donor's sperm, through ART as defined in GN 00306.001A. The agreement between the intended parent(s) and the gestational surrogate is a "gestational surrogacy agreement or contract."

GN 00306.002 Parent-Child Relationship Categories for Title II Benefits - Overview

Citations:

Social Security Act §§ 202(d), 216(e), 216(h)(2), and 216(h)(3)

Code of Federal Regulations §§ 404.350 - 404.366

IMPORTANT: Do not follow these instructions when making Supplemental Security Income (SSI) child determinations. Instead, refer to SI 00501.010.

A. Introduction to parent-child relationship categories for Title II benefits

For the purpose of entitlement to child’s insurance benefits under Section 202(d) of the Social Security Act (Act), a child may qualify as the child of the number holder (NH) under criteria in section 216(e), 216(h)(2), or 216(h)(3) of Title II of the Act. This section summarizes the categories of children under these sections of the Act. Unless otherwise indicated, the term "child," for purposes of relationship, refers to:

  • claimants under age 18;

  • childhood disability claimants age 18 or over; and

  • claimants who are full-time elementary or secondary students under age 19.

Except for a posthumously conceived child, develop the child’s relationship under any category in the chart in GN 00306.002F that will facilitate entitlement. If you cannot entitle a child under one category, check to see if there might be entitlement under another category. You may develop the child's relationship under more than one category concurrently or consecutively, e.g., development under State law and section 216(h)(3). Follow the line of development that will permit payment as soon as possible. Then, pursue any earlier possible entitlement date once the child is in pay.

For instructions for a posthumously conceived child, see GN 00306.014D.

Unless otherwise indicated in this subchapter, if an individual is a “child” for purposes of the Act, the father or mother is a “parent” for purposes of the Act. For information on parent’s benefits, see RS 00209.000.

IMPORTANT: Do not allow or disallow Title II benefits solely on instructions in this overview section. To determine if a parent-child relationship exists, follow instructions in GN 00306.001 through GN 00306.680.

B. Parent-child relationship requirement for Title II benefits

To meet the relationship requirement for Title II child's benefits, the child must be dependent on the NH (see GN 00306.002C), and be one of the following:

  • able to inherit as the NH's child under State intestacy law; or

  • the NH's biological child born during an invalid ceremonial marriage; or

  • the NH's biological child who meets the criteria in section 216(h)(3) of the Act; or

  • the NH's legally adopted child, or child adopted by the NH's surviving spouse; or

  • the NH's equitably adopted child; or

  • the NH's child adopted by estoppel; or

  • the NH's stepchild; or

  • the NH's grandchild or step-grandchild, or the NH's grandchild or step-grandchild adopted by the NH's surviving spouse.

For more information on each of these categories, refer to the chart in GN 00306.002F.

IMPORTANT: Do not disallow a claim for child's benefits based on one child relationship category without first considering entitlement under other child relationship categories or before requesting a legal opinion, if one is required.

C. Dependency requirement

A child must be dependent on the NH at one of the specified points in GN 00306.007 through GN 00306.009. The law deems some children to be dependent on the NH, i.e., presumed to be dependent without further development. In other cases, children must prove actual dependency. For quick reference, the chart in GN 00306.002F shows the dependency requirement for each parent-child relationship category. For dependency requirements for a stepchild, see GN 00306.232.

To establish dependency at any point in time, the child must have been in existence and had the necessary relationship to the NH at the point in time in question. We consider a child to have been in existence during the period of gestation (see GN 00306.001G). For purposes of the dependency requirement, support for an unborn child during the period of gestation may be shown by proof that the NH made contributions to either the unborn child (e.g., baby clothes or a crib) or the mother (e.g., food, shelter, or medical care).

IMPORTANT: For a posthumously conceived child, see GN 00306.014D.

D. Child files a subsequent claim following a disallowance for dependency not met

If we disallowed a child’s earlier claim for benefits on a living NH’s earnings record for failure to meet the dependency requirement, you may establish a new support period for a subsequent application. If the subsequent application introduces new evidence that could establish dependency, make a new determination. To determine if a child meets the dependency requirement, see the chart in GN 00306.002F.

The child’s month of entitlement based on a subsequent application is the later of:

  • the earliest month of potential entitlement based on the retroactivity of the subsequent application as set out in GN 00204.030; or

  • the date the change in the dependency circumstance occurred.

E. Evidence received after entitlement making prior determination of a parent-child relationship questionable

If, after entitlement, we receive additional evidence making the prior determination of a parent-child relationship questionable, continue payment until we resolve the issue.

If the award was clearly erroneous and it is possible to reopen under the rules of administrative finality in GN 04000.000, follow the instructions in GN 01010.480B.

If the award is questionable and it is possible to reopen under the rules of administrative finality in GN 04000.000, follow the instructions for reopening erroneous awards in GN 01010.480C.

If necessary, request a legal opinion on the validity of the parent-child relationship and whether we can reopen the determination using instructions in GN 01010.815.

IMPORTANT: If the award cannot be reopened and revised, do not terminate the child’s benefits based on the additional evidence. For post-entitlement events that may terminate a child’s entitlement to benefits, see RS 00203.035.

F. Reference chart for parent-child relationship categories

The chart in this subsection shows:

  • the categories of parent-child relationships under Title II of the Act;

  • the dependency requirement for each category;

  • the relationship code to be input on the Child Relationship (CREL) screen in the Modernized Claims System (MCS) for each child relationship category; and

  • references.

Parent-Child Relationship Category

Dependency Requirement

Relationship Code for CREL Screen

References

NH’s Child Under State Intestacy Law

(Section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act)

(State Law)

Deem dependency for the child.

EXCEPTION: Someone other than the NH adopted the child during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165 through GN 00306.170).

Code "0" for “State Intestacy Law”

NOTE: For claims taken prior to 09/14/19, children under State intestacy law were coded "1", "2", or "8" (see MS 00705.012).

GN 00306.010 through GN 00306.015

GN 00306.400 through GN 00306.680

NH’s Biological Child Born During an Invalid Ceremonial Marriage

(Section 216(h)(2)(B) of the Act)

(Federal Law)

Deem dependency for the child.

EXCEPTION: Someone other than the NH adopted the child during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165 through GN 00306.170).

Code "9" for “Other (216H3)”

GN 00306.090

NH’s Biological Child Under Section 216(h)(3) of the Act

(Federal Law)

Deem dependency for the child.

NOTE: When using the “other satisfactory evidence” provision of the Federal law to establish that the NH is the child’s biological parent, you must establish living with or contributions for support as instructed in GN 00306.125A and GN 00306.125B.2.

EXCEPTION: Someone other than the NH adopted the child during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165 through GN 00306.170).

Code "9" for “Other (216H3)”

GN 00306.100 through GN 00306.125

GN 00306.270

GN 00306.280

GN 00306.285

NH’s Legally Adopted Child, or Child Adopted by NH’s Surviving Spouse

Dependency determination depends on the date of the adoption.

A child legally adopted prior to or in the month in which the NH became entitled to RIB or DIB is deemed dependent on the NH at any of the points listed in GN 00306.007 at which the relationship existed.

A child legally adopted by the NH before the NH’s death is deemed dependent on the NH at the time of death (see GN 00306.008).

For dependency requirements for a child adopted by the NH after the NH’s entitlement to RIB or DIB, see GN 00306.137C.

A child legally adopted by the NH’s surviving spouse can be entitled as a legally adopted child under certain conditions. If these conditions are met, including either living with or receiving one-half support from the NH at the time of the NH’s death, the child is deemed dependent on the NH as of the date of the NH’s death.

EXCEPTION: Someone other than the NH adopted the child during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165 through GN 00306.170).

Code "3" for “Adopted Child”

GN 00306.135 through GN 00306.160

NH's Equitably Adopted Child

The NH must have been living with or contributing to the child's support at one of the points listed in GN 00306.007 or GN 00306.008.

Code "4" for "Equitably Adopted"

GN 00306.175 through GN 00306.210

NH's Child Adopted by Estoppel

The NH must have been living with or contributing to the child's support at one of the points listed in GN 00306.007 or GN 00306.008.

Code "4" for "Equitably Adopted"

GN 00306.215 through GN 00306.225

NH's Stepchild

A stepchild becoming initially entitled for July 1996 or later must have been receiving at least one-half support from the NH at one of the points in time set out in GN 00306.007 or GN 00306.008.

Code "6" for “Stepchild”

EXCEPTION: Use Code "7" for “Stepchild (216k)” when deeming the 9-month marriage requirement as explained in GN 00305.100A.

GN 00306.230 through GN 00306.232

GN 00306.290

If entitlement to benefits as a stepchild depends on the NH’s same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship (NMLR), see GN 00210.505.

NH's Grandchild, Step-grandchild, Adopted Grandchild; or NH's Grandchild Adopted by the NH's Surviving Spouse The NH must have been living with and contributing one-half support (see GN 00306.235C). Code "5" for “Grandchild” GN 00306.235 through GN 00306.255

GN 00306.010 Use of State Intestacy Laws to Make a Parent-Child Relationship Determination - Overview

Citations:

Social Security Act §216(h)(2)(A)

Code of Federal Regulations § 404.355

A. Use of State intestacy laws to establish a natural parent-child relationship

We use State intestacy laws to determine whether there is a natural parent-child relationship to establish the child’s initial entitlement or reentitlement to benefits. We will find that a natural parent-child relationship exists if the State of the number holder’s (NH) domicile (see GN 00306.014G) would find the claimant able to inherit the NH’s personal property as the NH’s legal child if the NH were to die intestate. Descriptions of State intestacy laws are set out in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680.

In some cases, we may presume a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law (see GN 00306.011 through GN 00306.013). When we cannot presume a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law, we consider whether a child meets the relationship requirement under specific State intestacy law (see GN 00306.014).

For special instructions on cases involving surrogacy or posthumous conception, see GN 00306.014C and GN 00306.014D, respectively.

B. Dependency for child under State intestacy law

When we establish a child’s relationship to the NH under State intestacy law, we deem the child dependent on the NH unless someone else adopts the child during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165). For more information on dependency requirements, see the chart in GN 00306.002F.

C. Termination of NH's parental rights

When the NH’s parental rights with respect to a child have been terminated by court order and the child has not been adopted by someone else, the child does not necessarily lose inheritance rights with respect to the NH under State law. This issue is relevant to initial entitlements and reentitlements. In the absence of a legal precedent opinion, submit the case for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815. If someone other than the NH adopts the child during the NH’s lifetime, see GN 00306.165.

D. Change in parent-child relationship under State intestacy law after initial entitlement or reentitlement to benefits

Do not use these instructions to terminate a child’s benefits based on a change in the parent-child relationship under State law after initial entitlement or re-entitlement. We use these determinations only to establish the child’s initial entitlement or reentitlement to benefits.

Adoption by someone other than the NH, the termination of a NH’s parental rights, and a child’s loss of inheritance rights do not terminate the child’s entitlement to child’s benefits.

For post-entitlement events that may terminate a child’s entitlement to benefits, see RS 00203.035.

E. Individual questions constitutionality of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) interpretation of State intestacy law

If a child claimant, or an individual acting on the child’s behalf, questions the constitutionality of SSA’s interpretation of State intestacy law at the initial claim or reconsideration level, request a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

F. References

  • GN 00306.001 Definitions of Terms Used in Determining Parent-Child Relationship for Title II Benefits

  • GN 00306.011 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Overview

  • GN 00306.012 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law – Child and Birth Mother

  • GN 00306.013 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law – Child and Birth Mother’s Spouse

  • GN 00306.014 Use of State Intestacy Laws to Develop Title II Parent-Child Relationship

  • GN 00306.015 Use of a State Court Judgment or Order to Establish a Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law

  • GN 00306.165 Entitlement Requirements - Child Adopted by Someone Other Than NH

  • GN 00306.305 Determining Status as Number Holder’s Child: When to Request a Legal Opinion

  • GN 00306.310 Challenges to a Parent-Child Relationship Determination

 

GN 00306.011 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Overview

Citations:

Social Security Act §216(h)(2)(A)

Code of Federal Regulations § 404.355

A. General rules for presuming a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law

When certain facts are present, we may presume a child would inherit as the number holder's (NH) child from his or her birth mother and the birth mother's spouse if the birth mother or birth mother's spouse were to die intestate.

1. Birth mother

We generally presume that a child would inherit from the child’s birth mother in all states, unless there is evidence to rebut the presumption. For instructions on how to develop cases where there is an allegation that the NH is the child’s birth mother, see GN 00306.012.

EXCEPTION: If the child was born to a surrogate mother, do not apply this general rule. Instead, follow guidance in GN 00306.014C.

2. Birth mother's spouse

We generally presume that a child born to a validly married couple is the legal marital child of both the child’s birth mother and her spouse, regardless of the spouse’s gender. As a result, we generally presume that a child born to a validly married couple would inherit from the birth mother’s spouse in all states, unless there is evidence to rebut the presumption.

For instructions on how to develop cases where there is an allegation that the NH is the birth mother’s spouse, see GN 00306.013.

IMPORTANT: For cases involving a posthumously conceived child, see GN 00306.014D.

B. What to do when the general rules for presuming a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law do not apply

When the general rules in GN 00306.011A for presuming a parent-child relationship do not apply, we consider whether a child meets the relationship requirement under specific State law, following guidance in:

If you cannot make the determination based on these instructions, consider:

  • entitling the child as a stepchild (see GN 00306.230);

  • entitling the child under a relationship category other than NH's child under State intestacy law or stepchild (see chart in GN 00306.002F); or

  • requesting a legal opinion using instructions in GN 00306.305 and GN 01010.815.

GN 00306.012 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Child and Birth Mother

A. General rule for presuming Title II parent-child relationship under State intestacy law for child and birth mother

We generally presume that a child would inherit as the NH's child from the child’s birth mother if the birth mother were to die intestate in all states, unless the evidence provides a reason to question the presumption. Follow the instructions in this section to determine if the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent. If you determine the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent:

  • presume a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law, and

  • deem the child dependent on the NH.

EXCEPTION: If the child was born to a surrogate mother, do not apply this general rule. Instead, follow instructions in GN 00306.014C.

B. Evidence that the NH is the child's birth mother and legal parent

Accept the child’s Enumeration at Birth (EAB) Numident or birth record as proof that the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent if the requirements in GN 00306.012B.1 or GN 00306.012B.2 are met. If such a record is not available, pursue other evidence that the NH is the child's birth mother.

1. EAB Numident

Use the child's Numident as evidence that the NH is the child's birth mother and legal parent when:

  • there is a “6” in the form code (FMC) field on the INTERNAL line, indicating an EAB record;

  • there is the NH’s name at birth in the mother’s name at birth (MNA) field, setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020C;

  • there is no Numident record created after the EAB record that shows a name other than the NH’s in the MNA field;

  • and there is no reason to question that the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent (see GN 00306.012C).

2. Birth record

Use a public or religious record of birth as evidence that the NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent when:

  • the NH is named as the child’s birth mother, setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020C and taking into consideration any other names she may have used; and

  • there is no reason to question the that NH is the child’s birth mother and legal parent (see GN 00306.012C).

For policy on public and religious records of birth, see GN 00302.054 and GN 00302.056.

C. When not to apply presumption based on evidence that the NH is the child's birth mother

Do not presume that State law would allow a child to inherit intestate from the NH when there is a reason to question the birth mother-child relationship, such as those provided in this subsection, for which there is no reasonable explanation. If there is an indication that the NH may not be the child’s birth mother and legal parent, additional development is necessary. If, after pursuing additional development, the relationship remains unclear, follow instructions in GN 00306.011B.

1. Child's Numident or BC does not meet the requirements in GN 00306.012B

Do not presume the NH is the child's birth mother if:

  • the EAB Numident or child's BC shows someone other than the NH in the MNA field; or

  • a Numident record created after the EAB record shows a name other than the NH's in the MNA field.

2. Claims file or other Social Security Administration (SSA) record contains evidence that the NH may not be the child's birth mother

Unless there is a reasonable explanation, do not presume a child may inherit intestate from the NH when the claims file or other SSA record contains evidence that the NH may not be the child's birth mother, such as:

  • the NH filed an application for benefits where she did not list the child as hers; or

  • the NH failed to file for mother's benefits, where applicable, as the child's mother.

The following are examples of reasonable explanations for the NH not listing the child as hers on an application for benefits or not filing for mother's benefits:

  • the child was born after the NH filed an application for benefits;

  • the NH was working; or

  • the NH's entitlement would have affected the benefit rates of the children due to the family maximum (see RS 00208.105).

3. Claims file or other SSA record contains evidence that the NH may not be the child's legal parent

Do not presume a child may inherit intestate from the NH when the claims file or other SSA record contains evidence to indicate that, while being the child’s birth mother, the NH may not be the child’s legal parent according to the intestacy laws of her State of domicile (see GN 00306.014G). For example:

  • the NH gave birth to the child under a surrogacy agreement on behalf of the intended parent(s) (see GN 00306.014C);

  • the NH's parental rights have been terminated (see GN 00306.010C); or

  • the child was adopted by someone other than the NH during the NH's lifetime (see GN 00306.165).

4. Individual challenges alleged parent-child relationship

If an adversely affected beneficiary or any other party challenges the alleged birth mother-child relationship, follow the instructions in GN 00306.310.

GN 00306.013 Presumption of Title II Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law - Child and Birth Mother's Spouse

A. General rule for presuming Title II parent-child relationship under State intestacy law for child and birth mother's spouse

We generally presume that a child born to a validly married couple is the legal marital child of both the child’s birth mother and her spouse, regardless of the spouse’s gender, unless there is evidence to rebut the presumption. As a result, we generally presume that a child born to a validly married couple would inherit from the birth mother’s spouse in all states.

Follow the instructions in this section to determine if the child is the legal marital child of the number holder (NH) and the birth mother. If you determine the child is the legal marital child of the NH and the birth mother:

  • presume a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law; and

  • deem the child dependent on the NH.

EXCEPTIONS:

  • If the child was born to a surrogate mother, do not apply this general rule. Instead, follow instructions in GN 00306.014C.

  • If the child’s birth mother and the NH were in a non-marital legal relationship (NMLR), do not apply this general rule. Refer all cases involving children born to NMLRs for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

NOTE: A posthumously conceived child is a non-marital child (see GN 00306.014D).

B. Evidence of parent-child relationship based on NH's marriage to child's birth mother

Unless there is evidence to rebut the presumption, presume the child is the legal marital child of both the child’s birth mother and her spouse, regardless of the spouse’s gender, when:

  • there is evidence that the NH’s spouse was the child’s birth mother and legal parent (see GN 00306.013B.1);

  • there is an Enumeration at Birth (EAB) Numident or birth record for the child listing the NH as a parent (see GN 00306.013B.2.a and GN 00306.013B.2.b, respectively); and

  • there is proof that the NH and the child's birth mother were married at the time of the child's birth (see GN 00306.013B.3).

1. Evidence that the NH's spouse was the child's birth mother and legal parent

For instructions on developing evidence that the NH's spouse was the child's birth mother and legal parent, see GN 00306.012B.

2. Evidence of NH's relationship to child

Accept the child's EAB Numident or birth record as proof that the NH is the child's parent if the requirements in GN 00306.013B.2.a or GN 00306.013B.2.b are met.

IMPORTANT: Do not substitute other evidence for the EAB Numident or birth record. In the absence of an EAB Numident or birth record meeting the criteria in GN 00306.013B.2.a or GN 00306.013B.2.b, do not apply this presumption. Instead, follow the instructions in GN 00306.011B.

a. EAB Numident

Use the child's Numident as evidence that the NH is the child's legal parent when:

  • there is an iteration that shows a "6" in the form code (FMC) field of the INTERNAL line, indicating an EAB record;

  • the NH's name is in the parent/father's name (FNA) field of the EAB Numident setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020C and taking into consideration any other names the alleged parent may have used;

  • the NH was alive at the time the EAB record was established;

  • there is no Numident record created after the EAB record that shows a name other than the NH's in the FNA field; and

  • there is no reason to question that the alleged parent is the child's legal parent (see GN 00306.013C).

b. Birth record

Use a public or religious record of birth as evidence that the NH is the child's legal parent when:

  • the NH's name is in the space for the father, other parent, or second parent, setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020C and taking into consideration any other names the alleged parent may have used;

  • the birth record was established during the NH's lifetime; and

  • there is no reason to question that the NH is the child's legal parent (see GN 00306.013C).

For policy on public and religious records of birth, see GN 00302.054 and GN 00302.056.

3. Proof of marriage

To determine if the NH and the child's birth mother were married at the time of the child's birth:

  • refer to evidence available to SSA from current or prior claims to determine the date the NH married the child’s birth mother, such as marriage screens in the Modernized Claims System (MCS) or Application Summaries in the Online Retrieval System (ORS); or

  • obtain a signed statement from at least one of the child’s parents stating the date of the marriage. If taking the claim in MCS and one of the parents is the proper applicant for the child, use the Remarks (RMKS) screen to obtain the parent’s statement. The act of attesting to the information provided in the MCS claims path is deemed equivalent to a signature (see GN 00201.015C). Otherwise, obtain a Statement of Claimant or Other Person (SSA-795) from at least one of the child’s parents stating the date of the marriage; or

  • develop evidence of the marital relationship, including a same-sex marriage, according to instructions in GN 00305.000 and GN 00210.000.

If the date of marriage is prior to the date of the child's birth and the marriage was not terminated prior to that time, assume that the child is a marital child.

NOTE: If the parents’ marriage was not valid, the child may qualify as a child of an invalid ceremonial marriage (see GN 00306.090) or as the NH’s child under section 216(h)(3) (see GN 00306.100 through GN 00306.125).

REMINDER: Refer all cases involving children born to NMLRs for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

C. When not to apply presumption based on evidence that NH was married to child's birth mother

If any of these circumstances apply, do not presume that State law would allow a child to inherit intestate from the NH based on evidence that the NH was married to the child’s birth mother at the time of the child’s birth. If there is an indication that the NH may not have been married to the child’s birth mother at the time of the child’s birth or the NH may not be the child’s legal parent, additional development is necessary. If, after pursuing additional development, the relationship remains unclear, follow instructions in GN 00306.011B.

1. Child conceived after the NH's death

2. Child born more than 287 days after divorce

If the child was born more than 287 days after the birth mother and NH divorce, do not apply the presumption. Instead, follow instructions in GN 00306.011B.

3. Child born more than 287 days after death of NH

4. Child conceived during one marriage and born during a subsequent one

If the child was conceived during one marriage and born during a subsequent one, do not apply the presumption. Instead, follow instructions in GN 00306.011B.

NOTE: To permit payment as soon as possible, consider entitling the child as a stepchild (see GN 00306.230) or as the NH's biological child under section 216(h)(3) of the Act (see GN 00306.100 through GN 00306.125) while you continue to develop the child relationship under State law.

5. NH or child's birth mother volunteers information that raises doubt about child's parentage

Do not apply the presumption if the NH or the child’s birth mother volunteers information that raises questions about the child’s parentage. The acceptability of such statements depends on whether the State applies the Lord Mansfield Rule (see GN 00306.025 and GN 00306.026).

6. Claims file or other Social Security Administration (SSA) record contains evidence that NH's spouse may not be the child's birth mother

Unless there is a reasonable explanation, do not apply the presumption when the claims file or other SSA record contains evidence to indicate that the NH’s spouse is not the child’s birth mother (see GN 00306.012C).

7. Claims file or other SSA record contains evidence that child was not born during the NH's marriage to the child's birth mother and legal parent

Unless there is a reasonable explanation, do not apply the presumption when the claims file or other SSA record contains evidence to indicate that the NH was not married to the child’s birth mother and legal parent at the time of the child’s birth. For example:

  • the child’s birth mother filed an application for benefits during the alleged marriage, and she did not list the NH as her spouse;

  • the NH filed an application for benefits during the alleged marriage, and he or she did not list the child’s birth mother as his or her spouse;

  • the NH filed an application for benefits and did not list the child as his or her child; or

  • the NH failed to file for mother’s or father’s benefits, where applicable, as the child’s mother or father.

8. Claim file or other SSA record contains evidence that NH may not be the child's legal parent

Do not apply the presumption when the claims file or other SSA record contains evidence that the NH, while being the spouse of the child’s birth mother, may not be the child’s legal parent according to the intestacy laws of his or her State of domicile, for example:

  • his or her parental rights have been terminated by court order (see GN 00306.010C); or

  • the child was adopted by someone other than the NH during the NH’s lifetime (see GN 00306.165).

9. Individual challenges alleged parent-child relationship

Do not apply the presumption if an adversely affected beneficiary or any other party challenges the alleged birth mother-child relationship or the validity of the NH’s marriage to the birth mother. Instead, follow the instructions in GN 00306.310.

GN 00306.014 Use of State Intestacy Laws to Develop Title II Parent-Child Relationship

Citations:

Social Security Act § 216(h)(2)(A)

Code of Federal Regulations § 404.355

A. When to apply State intestacy laws to develop child status

Apply State intestacy laws in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680 when using State law to determine child status and you cannot find child status based on the general rules in GN 00306.011.

IMPORTANT: For cases involving surrogacy or posthumous conception, see GN 00306.014C and GN 00306.014D, respectively.

B. Applying State intestacy laws to cases involving retroactive benefits

Some State laws require triggering events, such as a blood test or similar evidence, before a non-marital child can inherit. In these situations, when retroactive benefits are at issue, the child’s status as the NH’s child is effective on the date the last required piece of evidence was generated, unless the evidence points to an earlier date. In some of these cases, the child may not be entitled to retroactive benefits. Information about these laws is annotated with an (I) in our State Law Digest in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680. If the evidence points to an earlier date than when the last required piece of evidence was generated, request a legal opinion on the effective date of the parent-child relationship using instructions in GN 01010.815.

C. Applying State intestacy laws to cases involving surrogacy

For all cases involving surrogacy, request a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

EXCEPTION: Cases in which a court decree establishes a biological parent-child relationship (see GN 00306.100) do not require a legal opinion unless the decree is questionable (see GN 00306.015).

D. Applying State intestacy laws to cases involving posthumous conception

For all cases involving posthumous conception, i.e., the child was conceived after the NH’s death, request a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815. This area of law is developing, and each parent-child relationship determination involving posthumous conception requires a new legal opinion.

A posthumously conceived child:

  • is a non-marital child; and

  • can only be entitled if he or she has inheritance rights under applicable State intestacy law. Other child relationship categories in GN 00306.002F do not apply to a child conceived posthumously.

Develop for posthumous conception when:

  • information is provided indicating the child was conceived posthumously, or

  • child was born more than 287 days after the NH's death.

E. Establishing paternity for a non-marital child after the NH's death

The appropriate State Law Digest entries in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680 indicate the standard of proof to apply when determining paternity. If the State intestacy law imposes a time limit within which someone must act to establish paternity, see GN 00306.014J.

F. When a State court determination of paternity is not required

We do not require a claimant to obtain a court determination of paternity before we can find that a parent-child relationship exists even if State intestacy law would require one before the child could inherit. Instead, evaluate the relationship by applying the standard of proof that the State court would use.

The appropriate State Law Digest entries in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680 indicate the standard of proof to apply when determining paternity. If there are questions about meeting the standard of proof, request a legal opinion following instructions in GN 01010.815.

G. Determining which State's intestacy laws apply

For most claims, we look to the intestacy laws of the NH’s State of domicile, as defined in GN 00306.001F. For instructions on developing questionable domicile, see GN 00305.001C.1. Refer questions about the NH’s domicile for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

NOTE: For situations in which we may look to the laws of a State other than the NH’s State of domicile, see GN 00306.014H.

If the NH’s permanent home is not or was not in a State as defined in GN 00306.001R, we look to see which laws the District of Columbia would apply when a NH's domicile is in a foreign country to determine if the claimant could inherit intestate as that person’s child.

After determining which State’s intestacy laws apply, determine which version of the law to apply as instructed in GN 00306.014I.

1. Life cases

If the NH is alive at the time of the application, we consider the case a “life case.” In a life case, apply the intestacy laws of the NH's State of domicile as of the filing date of the child's application. If this does not permit entitlement and the NH moves during the life of the application, you may look to the State law of the NH’s new domicile.

2. Death cases

If the NH is deceased at the time of the application, we consider the case a “death case.” In a death case, apply the intestacy laws of the NH's State of domicile at the time of his or her death.

H. When NH's State of domicile may look to the law of another State

Although the law of the NH’s State of domicile at the time of the child’s application or NH’s death governs in determining relationship, that State may apply the law of the place where an event, e.g., birth or adoption, occurred in determining its validity.

Request a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815 when:

  • NH moved after an event which could establish a parent-child relationship occurred; and

  • the law of the NH’s State of domicile as of the filing date of the child’s application or NH’s death does not permit the child’s entitlement with full retroactivity.

In situations such as these, under the conflict of laws or choice of law principles, we may look to the law of a State other than the NH’s State of domicile to establish a parent-child relationship. A conflict of laws or choice of law issue occurs when there is a question that requires a determination of which State’s laws should govern.

I. Determining which version of State intestacy law to apply

State intestacy law may change over time, resulting in different versions of the law. Because of such changes, after determining which State’s intestacy laws apply, you must determine which version of intestacy law to apply. Use the effective dates in the appropriate State Law Digest entry to determine which version of State law applied at a particular time.

1. Life cases

If the NH is alive, evaluate the versions of State intestacy law in the following order:

  • the version of State law that is in effect when the child applies for benefits; then

  • all other versions of State law that were in effect from the first month the child could be entitled to benefits up until the time of our final determination.

Apply the version of the law that would enable the earliest entitlement date.

2. Death cases

If the NH is deceased, evaluate the versions of State intestacy law in the following order:

  • the version of State law that is in effect when we adjudicate the child’s application for benefits; then

  • the version of State law that was in effect when the NH died; then

  • any version of State law in effect from the first month the child could be entitled to benefits up until the time of our final determination.

Apply the version of the law that would enable the earliest entitlement date.

3. Examples of determining which version of State intestacy law to apply

The following are examples of determining which version of State intestacy law to apply.

a. Example of applying a State law that operates prospectively

The child was born in December 2016. Her father, the NH, died in January 2018. The child’s mother filed an application on the child’s behalf in September 2018. As a survivor, the child is eligible for up to 6 months of retroactive benefits. Therefore, if the child meets entitlement requirements, the child can be entitled to benefits as early as March 2018 based on a September 2018 filing date. We are adjudicating the claim in October 2018.

First, we look at the version of State law in effect when adjudicating the claim. That version is an inheritance rights provision operating prospectively that was effective in August 2018. The child can qualify under this provision, with a first month of entitlement of August 2018. Since this version does not allow us to pay benefits retroactive to March 2018, we must determine whether there is a more beneficial version of State law that would enable an earlier entitlement date. The child cannot meet the standard of proof in the version of law in effect at the time of the NH's death, and there were no subsequent changes in the law until August 2018. Therefore, the child cannot be entitled before August 2018.

b. Example of applying a State law that operates retroactively to the child's birth

The facts are the same as in the example in GN 00306.014I.3.a, except that the State law in effect when adjudicating the claim in October 2018 (the provision that was effective in August 2018), operates retroactively to the child’s birth. Therefore, we can establish the child’s relationship to the NH as of the child’s birth, and the child’s first month of entitlement would be March 2018, providing full retroactivity.

4. When to request a legal opinion on changes in State intestacy law

Request a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815 when you need to establish a child relationship for a prior period and you cannot determine which version of State law to apply because the applicable State Law Digest entry in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680:

  • does not provide the date the law went into effect; or

  • shows only effective dates more recent than the child relationship period you are addressing.

J. State intestacy laws that impose time limits

The appropriate State Law Digest entries in GN 00306.405 through GN 00306.680 indicate the standard of proof to apply when determining paternity.

We do not require a claimant to obtain a court determination of paternity before we can find that a parent-child relationship exists even if State intestacy law would require one before the child could inherit. Instead, evaluate the relationship by applying the standard of proof that the State court would use.

Refer all claims involving State intestacy laws that impose time limits within which someone must act to establish paternity for a legal opinion using instructions in GN 01010.815.

K. Reference

  • GN 00306.065 Evidentiary Standards Under State Intestacy Laws

GN 00306.015 Use of a State Court Judgment or Order to Establish a Parent-Child Relationship Under State Intestacy Law

A State court judgment or order establishing a parent-child relationship that provides inheritance rights is generally sufficient evidence of a parent-child relationship under State intestacy law. The judgment or order should set out the legal basis for establishing the parent-child relationship.

A. When to request a legal opinion on the validity of a State court judgment or order

If the order is questionable on its face or does not appear to establish parentage consistent with the issuing State’s law, request a legal opinion from the Regional Chief Counsel (RCC) using instructions in GN 01010.815.

B. How the RCC will evaluate the State court judgment or order

The RCC will consider whether a State court judgment order:

  • should be given full faith and credit (see GN 00306.015B.1); and

  • meets all of the criteria in Social Security Ruling (SSR) 83-37c (Gray v. Richardson) (see GN 00306.015B.2).

If a State court decision is questionable on its face, does not appear to be consistent with the issuing State’s law, or otherwise does not meet all of the criteria in SSR 83-37c, we are not bound by the State court decision.

1. Full faith and credit

Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U. S. Constitution, states must give full faith and credit to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of other states. The purpose of the Full Faith and Credit Clause is to avoid conflicts between states in adjudicating the same matters. A state is not required, however, to afford full faith and credit to a judgment rendered by a court that did not have jurisdiction over the subject matter or the relevant parties.

Analyzing whether the one state must afford full faith and credit to a judgment made by another state thus requires a two-tiered analysis:

  • first, we must consider whether the original court had jurisdiction, thus entitling the judgment to full faith and credit; and

  • second, we must determine how much credit the judgment is entitled to receive.

We give “full faith and credit” to a State court judgment or order that establishes a parent-child relationship for intestacy purposes in the NH’s State of domicile if it appears to be valid under the law of the State that issued the order.

2. SSR 83-37c (Gray v. Richardson)

When determining a child’s relationship under State law, where the evidence includes a State court decision on the issue, we are not necessarily bound by the court decision. State court determinations on domestic relations matters bind the agency when they meet these criteria in SSR 83-37c:

  • when a State court of competent jurisdiction previously determined an issue in a claim for Social Security benefits;

  • when parties with opposing interests genuinely contested the issue before the State court;

  • when the issue falls within the general category of domestic relations law; and

  • when the resolution by the State trial court is consistent with the law enunciated by the highest court in the State.


GN 00306 TN 43 - Child Relationship and Dependency - 9/14/2019