Constitutional Law

8th Circuit OKs Denial of Social Security Benefits to Daughter Born 2 Years After Dad's Death

A federal appeals court has reversed a trial court ruling that a girl born, with the help of in vitro fertilization, two years after her dad’s death is entitled to social security benefits.

Upholding an Iowa law, since amended, that was enacted before assisted reproductive techniques made such births possible, the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday said the federal government’s interpretation of the state statute to exclude Brynn Beeler from receiving social security death benefits is reasonable, the Associated Press reports.

“The death of Bruce Beeler at a relatively young age before he and Pattie Beeler could conceive children is profoundly sad,” a three-judge appellate panel said in a written opinion (PDF). “But whether the granting of child’s insurance benefits” to Brynn “would further the purposes of the Social Security Act is debatable.”

Beeler, who died of leukemia in Iowa at age 37, banked sperm before undergoing treatment. It was used after his death to conceive his daughter.

A circuit split on the issue of how posthumously conceived children should be treated with regard to social security benefits makes it likely that the issue will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the AP article notes.

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