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Utah high court to hear posthumous benefits case

•  Law Center     updated  2012/02/07 10:02

Utah's Supreme Court is deciding whether a sperm donor contract is proof that a man wanted to be a father, even after his death.

The question stems from a dispute between Gayle Burns and the Social Security Administration, which denied survivor benefits to the son Burns conceived after her husband died from cancer.

Oral arguments are set Tuesday in Salt Lake City.

Michael Burns had contracted with medical providers to preserve his sperm before he died of cancer in 2001. Gayle Burns became pregnant in 2003.

Social Security denied a 2005 benefits petition, saying federal law doesn't allow for payments to posthumously-conceived children.

Gayle Burns challenged the ruling in Utah's federal court.

A federal judge asked Utah's Supreme Court to address the issue first.

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