Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

In previous years, the Court released orders the morning after the Court’s “Long Conference.” It has not done so this year. Beginning last Term, the Court consistently considered petitions at least two times before granting certiorari. To the extent that practice continues -- and there is no affirmative evidence the Court intends to drop it -- so we are again doubtful that certiorari will be granted in any cases today.

Astrue v. Capato

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
11-159 3d Cir. Mar 19, 2012
Tr.
May 21, 2012 9-0 Ginsburg OT 2011

Holding: The Social Security Administration interprets the Social Security Act to allow children conceived after their father’s death to qualify for Social Security survivors benefits only if they could inherit from their father under state intestacy law. That reading, the Court held, is better attuned to the statute’s text and its design to benefit primarily those supported by the deceased wage earner in his or her lifetime. Moreover, even if the SSA’s longstanding interpretation is not the only reasonable one, it is at least a permissible construction entitled to deference under Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

Plain English Summary: A child conceived and born after a parent’s death cannot rely solely on a genetic connection to the deceased parent in order to qualify for Social Security survivors benefits. Siding with the Social Security Administration’s interpretation of the law, the Court held that all children, including those born via assisted reproduction technology, must either demonstrate that they would be eligible to inherit from their late parent under state law or satisfy one of the statutory alternatives to that requirement. The SSA’s interpretation was more consistent with the core purpose of the Act, which is to protect family members who depend on another family member’s income from hardship if that family member dies.

Judgment: Reversed and remanded, 9-0, in an opinion by Justice Ginsburg on May 21, 2012.

SCOTUSblog Coverage

Briefs and Documents

Merits Briefs for the Petitioner

Merits Briefs for the Respondents

Amicus Briefs in Support of the Respondents

Certiorari-stage documents

 
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