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PROCTOR v. UNITED STATES
November 30, 1977
Gloria PROCTOR, as mother and next friend of James A. Proctor, Nathaniel Proctor, Michelle L. Proctor, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES of America et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN
JUNE L. GREEN, District Judge.
At issue in this case is a provision of the Civil Service Retirement Act which conditions award of a survivor's annuity to illegitimate children on a showing that the children have "lived with" the deceased federal employee "in a regular parent-child relationship." Legitimate children do not have to meet this requirement, and the question is whether the difference in eligibility standards violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Court decides that it does.
Mr. James A. Holloway was employed by the District of Columbia government at the time of his death in late 1974. Under 5 U.S.C. § 8341, a provision of the Civil Service Retirement laws, his survivors had a right to apply for annuity benefits. On January 18, 1975, plaintiff Gloria Proctor filed with the Civil Service Commission an application for annuities on behalf of her three children: James, Nathaniel and Michelle Proctor. The children had not lived with Mr. Holloway, but he had acknowledged them as his own during proceedings brought by plaintiff in 1963 and 1965 for support, and his paternity had been adjudicated by the Juvenile Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Holloway was under a continuing court order to support plaintiff's children, and the uncontradicted record shows that he made cash contributions and bought groceries for them up to the date of his death.
At about the same time that plaintiff applied for benefits, Mrs. Helen L. Holloway, the deceased's common-law wife, filed with the Commission applications for a spouse's annuity and for a child's annuity on behalf of herself and her daughter. Mrs. Holloway and her daughter were added as defendants in this action because a decision by the Court granting plaintiff's children relief would diminish the amount of the annuity payable to the daughter.
The Commission's Bureau of Retirement, Insurance and Occupational Health denied plaintiff's application for benefits on February 24, 1975. On April 7, 1976, the Commission's Appeals Review Board affirmed the Bureau's ruling. The Board based its decision explicitly on the definition of "child" contained in 5 U.S.C. § 8341(a)(3)(A)(ii), which is used to determine the eligibility of children for survivor's annuities. The pertinent provision reads:
§ 8341. Survivor annuities
(a) For the purposes of this section --
(A) an unmarried child under 18 years of age, including (i) an adopted child, and (ii) a stepchild or recognized natural child who lived with the employee or Member in a regular parent-child relationship.
Plaintiff filed her original complaint in this action on March 17, 1976, and a subsequent request for a three-judge court was granted on March 24, 1977. She seeks an injunction which would bar use of the cohabitation requirement and compel the Commission to place her children on its rolls for receipt of child survivor annuities. She also seeks a lump sum in the amount of ...
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