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Frozen sperm may put survivor benefits on ice

While most who deal with cases of Social Security benefits are older in their years, the government support program can, in some cases, help the very young as well. Support payments for the children of a deceased parent can be claimed and utilized to help provide a more financially secure upbringing. Now, however, the changing landscape of reproductive technologies and techniques is complicating the process.

In 2001, two twins were born in southwest Michigan to a woman who had utilized in-vitro fertilization to conceive. Although this practice is not uncommon amongst parents who struggle to conceive on their own, what may surprise some is that biological father was the woman's deceased husband, who had chosen to have his sperm frozen just months before his death. Although the family in question resides in Michigan, similar cases have been noted in Florida, and could be happening in Houston in at any time.

Now, eleven years after the twins' birth, their mother is working to secure thousands of dollars in back benefits from the Social Security Administration, which has so far refused to provide survivor benefits, on account of the conception and birth having occurred after the man's passing. The case has risen all the way to the Michigan state Supreme Court.

If the woman's case is successful, she may be able to secure back benefit payments that total between $200 and $500 per month, which would be a sizable boon to her income as a single, middle-class mother.

Both the woman and her attorney made note of the fact that the couple's oldest child, born before the husband's 2001 death, receives Social Security benefits. The twins, biologically connected to the same father, should not be treated any differently in their eyes. "Maybe the law doesn't reflect where we're at with reproductive technologies," the attorney for the woman's case remarked.

This child benefits case is just one of many Social Security cases currently being decided that has very little to do with supplemental income, disability, or retirement. However, the assistance at stake is no less important for these cases, and those who think they may have be owed back survivor benefits should contact an attorney who specializes in Social Security law to begin building a case.

Source: Detroit News, "Michigan court takes case of frozen sperm, benefits," Ed White, Nov. 13, 2012

  • Our practice can help keep a family's Social Security rights intact. For more information, contact our Social Security law page.

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