When a mother or father dies while their children are still minors, usually they receive the deceased parent’s social security survivor benefits. But what happens if that child was born three years after a parent’s death? The state of Utah is trying to figure that out.
The Utah Supreme Court will decide whether 6-year-old Ian Burns is entitled to Michael Burns’ Social Security benefits. Michael Burns, Ian’s biological father, died nine years ago of cancer.
Before getting treatment for cancer, Burns opted to store his semen. His wife, Gayle Burns, says it was her husband’s intention to father a child, but he died suddenly. After grieving, Gayle Burns decided to go ahead with trying to conceive and she did. She faced her first hurdle when son Ian was only two days old: she wasn’t allowed to put Michael’s name on the birth certificate.
She fought a years-long legal battle and finally one. Shortly thereafter, she started receiving the survivor benefits. But the social security administration appealed the ruling, which if it’s reversed could force her to pay the benefits back.