In January 1951, C, a child then two months old, was given by his mother to H and W, a married couple, to bring up. When C was about two years old, H and W talked with a lawyer about adopting him but took no further action about adoption because of the expense. However, H and W raised the child in their home, fully supported him, and treated him in every way as their own. After H's death in December 1959, W continued to bring up C as her son.
In June 1960, W filed application on H's earnings record for mother's insurance benefits for herself and for child's insurance benefits on C's behalf. C was denied benefits solely because he was not H's child for purposes of entitlement to child's benefits on H's earnings record. The disallowance of C's claim resulted in the disallowance of W's application for mother's insurance benefits because she did not meet the requirement in section 202(g)(1)(E) of the Social Security Act in that she did not have in her care "a child of such individual entitled to a child's insurance benefit." If C had qualified as H's child, both he and W would have been entitled to their respective benefits beginning December 1959, the month in which H died, since all other requirements for entitlement were met.
After receiving notice of the disallowances in July 1960, W instituted adoption proceedings and on September 10, 1960, the court issued a final decree of adoption declaring C to be W's adopted child and to have all rights of her child and heir at law. Two weeks later W submitted a copy of the decree to the Social Security Administration and requested a reconsideration in the light of this new evidence.
The questions to be resolved are whether C's adoption by W changes his status in relation to H, and what is the first month (if any) for which he can be entitled to benefits.
Section 202(d) provides for the payment of child's insurance benefits to a child (as defined in section 216(e)) of a fully or currently insured individual if the child meets certain requirements.
Section 216(e) provides:
When H died on December 15, 1959, C was living in his household and was completely dependent for support upon him and W, without contributions from any other source. On September 10, 1960, less than one year after H's death, W, his surviving spouse, legally adopted C. It is, therefore, held that C is deemed to be H's legally adopted child as of December 15, 1959. Since C meets all requirements for entitlement to benefits as of December 1959, effective with that month he is entitled to child's insurance benefits and W is entitled to mother's insurance benefits. The initial determinations disallowing their applications were not erroneous when made, but the subsequent legal adoption of C changes his status retroactive to December 1959. Accordingly, on reconsideration, benefits must be awarded effective December 1959.
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