Court weighs in vitro survivor benefits

March 19, 2012 at 6:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument Monday on whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after a parent's death can receive survivor benefits.

About 100 such cases are pending before the Social Security Administration, NPR reported. The report said male members of the U.S. military increasingly are freezing sperm before their deployments in case they are killed.

The report said the justices appeared skeptical Monday about whether such children conceived after a parent's death are eligible for that parent's Social Security benefits.

Robert Capato was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2001, but before getting treatment he had his sperm frozen at a fertility clinic. After his death, in accordance with her husband's wishes, his wife Karen used the sperm and gave birth to twins in 2003.

The Social Security Administration denied survivor benefits to the twins because they could not inherit under Florida state law.

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled for the Capato family, citing the 1939 Social Security Act that covers "biological" children. SSA wants the Supreme Court to reverse the Philadelphia court's decision.

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