Tsosie v. Califano

630 F.2d 1328 (1980)

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Tsosie v. Califano

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
630 F.2d 1328 (1980)

Facts

Bessie Tsosie (plaintiff) and Frank Tsosie applied to adopt their nephew, Alfred Keese. The adoption was denied because Alfred’s parents withdrew their consent. Instead, the court appointed the Tsosies as Alfred’s guardians. In 1971, Frank died. Four months before Frank’s death, Alfred began receiving $37 in monthly benefits from the state’s Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. Alfred also received an additional $6.20 monthly in social security benefits associated with his biological father. The AFDC benefits were discontinued five months after Frank’s death due to a policy change. After Frank’s passing, Bessie filed a new adoption petition, which was granted in 1972. Bessie applied for child’s insurance benefits on Alfred’s behalf, but an administrative-law judge and US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano (the secretary) (defendant) denied the application. The secretary argued that Alfred did not meet the definition of a child under 42 U.S.C. § 416(e) because Alfred had not been adopted at the time of Frank’s death and was receiving regular and substantial welfare assistance. The district court upheld the decision. Bessie appealed, arguing that Congress did not intend to exclude from eligibility after-adopted children who received outside support when adoption proceedings were initiated before the wage earner’s death. Bessie also argued that the district court erred in considering the $43.20 per month Alfred received as regular and substantial.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

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