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Girl ineligible for dead father’s benefits

Associated Press / September 1, 2011

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DES MOINES - An Iowa girl who was born two years after her father died is not eligible to receive his Social Security benefits, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit this week reversed a district court ruling that granted benefits to the girl, who is now 8 years old.

Her mother, Patti Beeler of West Branch, had filed for the benefits on behalf of her daughter in 2003 but was denied by the Social Security Administration because of a state law’s definition of “natural child’’ and the inheritance rights of a child. Bruce Beeler died of leukemia in 2001, and Patti Beeler was later artificially inseminated with sperm the couple preserved.

Patti Beeler sued to challenge the agency’s decision and won, but that was overturned by the St. Louis-based court, which ruled Monday that the girl did not satisfy requirements under Iowa’s inheritance laws to be eligible for her father’s benefits.

The government has asked the US Supreme Court to review the issue, after a federal appeals court ruled that a child conceived after a father’s death was entitled to Social Security benefits. The request cites 18 different cases, including the Iowa case.

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