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Woodward v. Commissioner of Social Security

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
760 N.E.2d 257 (2002)

Woodward v. Commissioner of Social Security


After learning that the treatment for Warren Woodward’s leukemia may result in sterility, he and his wife Lauren Woodward (plaintiff), having no children at the time, decided to bank Warren’s sperm. Warren died in 1993 and Lauren gave birth to twins in 1995 who were conceived through artificial insemination with Warren’s preserved sperm. Lauren applied to the Social Security Administration (SSA) (defendant) for mother’s and child’s benefits. SSA denied Lauren’s claims because she had not established that her children qualified for benefits by showing that they were entitled to inherit from Warren under Massachusetts’ intestacy laws. Woodward appealed to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The district court certified the question of whether Lauren’s children have inheritance rights under Massachusetts intestacy laws to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, C. J.)

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