Posthumously Conceived Florida Children Denied Social Security Survivors’ Benefits

Florida Husband and Wife marry. Shortly afterward, Husband is diagnosed with cancer.

Chemotherapy being part of Husband’s treatment, Husband deposits some semen with a sperm bank.

Husband and Wife also have a child the old-fashioned way.

Husband’s will designates as his beneficiaries his two children from a previous marriage and the child he has the old fashioned way with Wife. No provision is made in his will for “unborn children”.

Husband dies.

Later, Wife uses Husband’s deposited sperm to give birth to Twins.

Wife moves from Florida to New Jersey while carrying the Twins.

Wife then applies for social security survivors’ benefits on behalf of the Twins.

The Social Security Administration denies Wife’s application for benefits based on Florida state law governing inheritance and the federal policy underlying the social security laws.

A federal administrative law judge upholds the Social Security Administration’s decision. But an intermediate level federal appellate court reverses, holding that the Twins were Husband’s children as defined by the federal social security laws.

The Social Security Administration appeals. And the US Supreme Court hears the case, hoping to resolve conflicts in other pending cases.

And reverses again, upholding the denial of benefits to Husband’s posthumously conceived Twins. The Court finds that the federal social security statutory benefits are intended for beneficiaries of Husband’s support during his lifetime.

Further, under Florida law, a marriage ends upon the death of either spouse. Under that definition, the Twins were not children of Husband’s and Wife’s marriage.

And, under Florida law, posthumously-conceived children cannot inherit unless a will otherwise clearly provides a gift to them.

Since the Supreme Court ruling turns upon Florida state inheritance laws, children conceived posthumously in other states could be granted social security survivors’ benefits.