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Younger v. Shalala
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
30 F.3d 1265 (1994)
Sherilyn Younger (plaintiff) applied for Social Security benefits on behalf of her daughters, Kia and Tia Younger, alleging the girls were also the daughters of Charles Costello, a deceased wage earner. Benefits were denied initially, upon reconsideration, and finally, following a de novo hearing before an administrative-law judge (ALJ). Younger was never married to Costello and attempted to prove that he was Kia and Tia’s father through affidavits from various people who claimed that Costello publicly acknowledged the girls and took them to his wife’s home, once, for two months. However, the other submitted documentation, which included Costello’s obituary and the children’s state and hospital birth records, did not support Younger’s claim that Costello was her children’s father. In fact, there was no acknowledgement of paternity in the administrative record. The administration reached out to the Internal Revenue Service and requested review of Costello’s tax records for evidence of paternity, but to no avail. Costello’s roommate, at the time of Costello’s passing, acknowledged that Costello was the father of Younger’s children, although Costello’s wife denied the paternity. Upon request, a state agency through which Younger received benefits provided notes from a social worker that Costello had picked the children up from daycare once and threatened to get custody of them. However, there was no court decree of paternity, and Costello was never ordered to pay child support. Based on the record and answers received from extensive questioning regarding Younger’s relationship with Costello and the documentation of paternity, the ALJ concluded Younger failed to prove paternity, and the ALJ’s denial of benefits became the final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala (defendant). Younger sought judicial review. A United States district court affirmed the denial, and Younger appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lungstrum, J.)
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