M stabbed and killed her husband, W, on May 30, 1957. She was indicted for a felony and was later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by the State of X on October 2, 1957. She was sentenced to twelve months in the county jail. The question was raised as to whether M's conviction of involuntary manslaughter constituted a conviction of felonious homicide which would preclude her from receiving social security benefits on W's earnings record.
Regulations No. 4, § 404.344, provide that a person who has been finally convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of the felonious homicide of an insured individual shall not be entitled to benefits or a lump-sum death payment based upon the wages and self-employment income of such deceased insured individual, and such person shall be considered nonexistent in determining the entitlement of other persons to benefits or a lump-sum based upon such wages and self-employment income.
Under the law of the State of X, offenses are classified as either felonies or misdemeanors. A felony in such an offense as is punishable by death or confinement in a penitentiary and all other offenses are misdemeanors. A penitentiary in this case means a State-provided institution, but not a local county jail. The State law further provides that involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor and any person convicted thereof shall be confined in jail for a period not to exceed one year, or fined not more than $1,000, or both, in the discretion of the court.
In accord with the law of State X involuntary manslaughter does not constitute a felony in that State. It is held, therefore, that M, having been convicted of involuntary manslaughter under the law of State X, has not been convicted of the felonious homicide of W and is not thereby precluded from receiving social security benefits based on W's earnings account.
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