Where a child was legally adopted in accordance with Ohio law by a disability insurance beneficiary more than 24 months after the beneficiary became entitled to disability insurance benefits, and where the adoption was under the direct supervision of the court and the court had granted the decree of adoption pursuant to a recommendation of a court-appointed investigator, held, the requirement of the Act that the adoption take place under the supervision of a public or private child-placement agency is a Federal rule, operative without regard to the law of any particular State, and requires such supervision as a fact; accordingly, the child does not meet the requirement of section 202(d)(8)(E) of the Act, as amended, and therefore is not entitled to child's benefits.
R, the worker, filed application for and became entitled to disability insurance benefits in October 1964. In August 1967 he legally adopted a child, C, born December 20, 1963. C had lived with R continuously since birth. Since the adoption occurred more than 24 months after R became entitled to benefits, C was deemed not to meet the dependency requirements of section 202(d)(8) by the Social Security Amendments of 1967) and, thus, could not qualify for child's insurance benefits. However, an additional issue for resolution is whether the child can qualify under the provisions of the 1967 amendments.
Section 112(a)(2) of the Social Security Amendments of 1967 (P.L. 90-248, enacted January 2, 1968), applicable with respect to monthly benefits for months after January 1968, on the basis of applications filed or deemed filed after January 2, 1968, added to section 202(d)(8) of the Act a new subsection (E). This subsection provides that a child legally adopted more than 24 months after the worker's entitlement to disability insurance benefits may be found dependent on the worker and, if the other requirements are met, entitled to child's benefits beginning no earlier than February 1968. Under this provision, the adoption must:
(1) have taken place under the supervision of a public or private child-placement agency, and
(2) have been decreed by a court of competent jurisdiction within the United States, and
(3) have occurred on a date immediately preceding which the worker had continuously resided in the United States for not less than one year, and
(4) have taken place prior to he child's attainment of age 18.
Insofar as pertinent here, all other requirements having been met, the question to be resolved is whether C's adoption was supervised by a public or private child-placement agency as contemplated by requirement (1), supra.
C's adoption was handled under the direct supervision of the Probate Court of X County, Ohio, the county in which R resided. The court approved the placement of the child and since C had lived in the petitioner's home in excess of 6 months, the requirement of an interlocutory decree was dispensed with and a final decree of adoption was granted immediately.
Section 3107.08 of the Ohio Code Provides:
If the probate court finds the child sought to be adopted was placed in the home of the petitioner in violation of the laws relating to the placement of children in foster homes, it may certify a copy of such finding to the juvenile court of the County where the child is living and suspend further action on the petition . . .
If the probate court does not certify its finding to the juvenile court, the probate court shall . . . after hearing approve or disapprove the placement . . .If the placement is approved the adoption proceedings shall go forward in the probate court.
Section 3107.04 of the Ohio Code provides for the appointment of a next friend to the child. The identity of the next friend and his duties are set out in section 3107.05 of the Ohio Code as follows:
The next friend shall be the County Welfare Department, the county child welfare board, a certified organization, the division of social administration or some person qualified by training and experience to perform the functions described . . . The next friend shall proceed to make a thorough investigation into the suitability of the adoption . . . At least three days prior to the date set for the hearing, the next friend shall submit to the court a full report in writing . . . with a written statement approving or disapproving the proposed adoption . . .
Evidence as to the identity and activities of the next friend in this case discloses that the court appointed an investigator who made the required investigation and recommendation to the court. However, the appointed investigator was an individual not associated with any child-placement agency. In addition, there is no certified agency or board in X County, Ohio, which can supervise adoptions.
However, the involvement of a court investigator or other court official in assessing the propriety of a purported legal adoption is not by itself sufficient to meet the requirement in section 202(d)(8)(E) of the Act. That section requires that the legal adoption of a child by an individual already entitled to disability benefits take place "under the supervision of a public or private child-placement agency." The rule is a Federal one, operative without regard to the law of any particular State, and requires actual supervision of the adoptee's placement by a recognized placement agency.
Held, since the adoption did not take place under the supervision of a public or private child-placement agency, and thus does not meet the requirements of section 202(d)(8)(E) of the Act, the child may not be entitled to child's insurance benefits on his adopting father's earnings record.
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