20 CFR 404.1607

SSR 68-33

A representative payee receiving disability insurance benefits on behalf of her illegitimate son who is a patient in a Veterans' Administration hospital, seeks to spend part of those benefits for her personal needs. Under applicable State law, illegitimate children are liable for the support of their needy parents, if they have the means of providing it. Held such expenditure is proper if the mother is in need, so long as the beneficiary's current needs are being met, since it is for the support of a "legally dependent parent" of the beneficiary within the meaning of section 404.1607 of Regulations No. 4 of the Social Security Administration.

B was named representative payee for J, her illegitimate son, pursuant to section 205(j) of the Social Security Act. They are both residents of Louisiana. J is mentally incompetent,. His personal needs are being reasonably met, since he receives a Veterans' Administration pension and is a patient in a Veterans' Administration hospital. B seeks to spend part of the disability insurance benefits she is receiving on J's behalf for her personal needs.

Section 205(j) of the Act provides that when it appears that the interest of a beneficiary would be served thereby certifications of payment may be made either for direct payment to such beneficiary or for his use and benefit to a relative or some other person. Payments are considered expended for the use and benefit of the beneficiary when, among other purposes, they are used for the support of certain persons whom the beneficiary is legally obligated to support. Thus, section 404.1607 of the Social Security Administration Regulations No. 4 (20 CFR 404.1607) provides that where current maintenance needs of a beneficiary are being reasonably met, part of the beneficiary's payments may be used for the support of the legally dependent spouse, a legally dependent child or a legally dependent parent of the beneficiary.

Whether B is a legally dependent parent depends on applicable State law, in this case that of Louisiana. Article 240 of the Louisiana Civil Code provides that:

Fathers and mothers owe alimony to their illegitimate children, when they are in need;
Illegitimate children owe likewise alimony to their father and mother, if they are in need, and if they themselves have the means of providing it.

The question to be resolved, therefore, is whether by reason of this provision of Louisiana law the parent of an illegitimate child may be considered a "legally dependent parent" within the meaning of that phrase in section 404.1607 of the Social Security Administration regulations cited above.

Under Louisiana law an illegitimate child is legally obligated to support his needy parents, as long as he has the means of providing such support. Accordingly, it is held that B, if she is in need, is a "legally dependent parent" for whose support a part of J's benefits may properly be expended under the cited regulations, so long as his current maintenance needs are being met.

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