21 June 2009

Social Security Question

This article is on the front page of the Register today and although I don't have enough time to really put together my thoughts on the situation and entitlements, I wanted to throw it out there for everyone else to read, think about and share what they think. In short, the guy had leukemia, got married, banked sperm before starting chemo, did not recover and ended up dieing. The wife is artifically impregnated a year later and has a daughter. She then applies for survivor benifits from Social Security, who denies the request.
I'll try and add my feelings in the comments later.


  1. How can one be a "survivor" when one does not exist at the time the the person dies? One can be "issue", of course (for instance, Bill Clinton's father died before he was born). The new possibilities of biology raise some difficult and perplexing questions, especially of policy (where I think that they should be addressed as opposed to post-hoc litigation).

  2. well, after that legal answer all I can say it seems a little creepy, and I wonder what they usually do in cases where sperm is stored and the guy dies, don't they remove the sperm, otherwise you would have a full bank pretty soon. Ethical questions too of course.

  3. at first glance I agree w/SSA (scary thought) - no benefits.

    my understanding is that the SocSec benefit is for children whose welfare might be threatened by the loss of a parental income...

    if one is conceived after this income is lost, that doesn't apply.

  4. i second the thoughts that have been shared here. the mother entered into parenthood with the knowledge that the deceased father's income was no longer present. i don't think it is SSA's duty to fill that void in this case.
    and i like steve's question about the term 'survivor'. strong point!

  5. hmm. ultra-sad story, but it leads to too slippery of a slope. That benefit is to help families who went into having a child assuming two parental units (and incomes). This case involves a mother choosing to have a child with the assumption of being a sole provider.

    A survivor is someone who lives through a tragic event. This child doesn't apply.

    -I answered before reading any other responses, didn't want to be tainted. Now it just sounds repetitive.