Lambda Legal announced this week that the Social Security Administration has agreed to grant child benefits to the two children of a father receiving social security disability benefits. The issue concerned recognition of the parent-child relationship based on two California parentage orders declaring Gary Day the father of his two children. Day now lives in Florida.
SSA never issued a ruling on the children’s claim for benefits, in spite of two letters from Lambda Legal. It simply cited “legal issues and policy questions” in holding up an initial determination. Without a determination, Day could not appeal. More than two years after Day’s application, in May 2008, Lambda filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia. The letter this week granting the benefits successfully concludes the litigation.
Eighteen months ago, in another case, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum opinion authorizing child benefits to the child of a nonbiological mother who was the child’s legal parent because she was in a Vermont civil union with the biological mother. The opinion concluded that recognition of the parent-child relationship did not violate the Defense of Marriage Act.
Lambda’s complaint on behalf of Gary Day and his children demonstrated that a parent-child relationship existed based on five different legal criteria in social security laws.
This case highlights an ongoing concern about recognition of parentage orders for nonbiological parents. …