Case of the Penurious Court - The Eighth Circuit's Denial of Social Security Benefits: Luke v. Bowen, The

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O'Brien, Jacqueline M.
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INTRODUCTION|On May 12, 1988, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota to deny social security surviving child benefits to a minor, Scott Luke, in Luke v. Bowen. In reaching this conclusion, the Eighth Circuit held that to receive surviving child insurance benefits under the Social Security Act a child must be the wage earner's biological child. In spite of a written statement by the wage earner, Gary Groth, acknowledging Scott as his son, the court noted that the original denial of benefits by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) was supported by substantial evidence that Groth had undergone a vasectomy. |This Note outlines the evidence relied on by the Secretary, the administrative law judge, the district court and the Eighth Circuit, in reaching the decision to deny social security benefits to Scott Luke. In addition, this Note surveys similar cases from other circuits to show that the Eighth Circuit opinion is contrary to the intent of the social security legislation, to the weight of the evidence, and to the decisions of other circuits on the same issue. Specifically, this Note addresses the court's interpretation of section 416 (h)(3)(C)(i)(I) of Title 42 of the United States Code which requires a child to prove paternity, in addition to providing a written paternity acknowledgment from the deceased wage earner, to entitle a child to social security benefits. This interpretation, when contrasted with the legislative intent of the provision and alternative judicial interpretations, is clearly contrary to the underlying purpose of the Social Security Act...
23 Creighton L. Rev. 717 (1989-1990)
Creighton University School of Law
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