Twins from Portage who were artificially conceived after their father’s death are not eligible to collect survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday.
When Jeffrey Mattison got sick, he froze some of his sperm so the chemotherapy he was about to undergo wouldn’t prevent him and his wife, Pamela Mattison, from having more children.
When Mattison died in 2001, his wife used the banked sperm and conceived twins — Mallory and Michael — who were born about 10 months after their father’s death.
The Social Security Administration refused to treat the twins as Jeffrey Mattison’s heirs and grant them survivor benefits of a few hundred dollars a month, saying the children didn’t “survive” their dad, because they were conceived after his death.
Pamela Mattison sued. In an opinion released Friday, the state Supreme Court said the position the federal agency took is consistent with state law.
“The statute … does not allow the twins to inherit from Jeffrey because the twins were not conceived or born during plaintiff and Jeffrey’s marriage, given that the marriage legally terminated upon Jeffrey’s death,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Marilyn Kelly and joined by Justices Stephen Markman, Diane Hathaway, Mary Beth Kelly and Brian Zahra.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Victor Bland, Pamela Mattison’s attorney. “I understand they were trying to interpret the statute literally, but it leaves a couple of kids, who are certainly biological children, out in the cold.”