SSR 63-26: SECTION 202(a). -- PROOF OF AGE -- EVALUATION OF CONFLICTING EVIDENCE

20 CFR 404.703

SSR 63-26

A worker, applying for old-age insurance benefits, alleged he was born October 10, 1890. In support of this allegation he submitted a number of documents and records, on which the year of birth shown or indicated varied from 1889 to 1891. The evidence alleged to be the oldest (an entry made in a Bible) had been altered; the next oldest (a 1900 census record) was equivocal; the third oldest (a 1910 poll-tax record) bore on his date of birth only by inference. Practically all other evidence, including a World War I draft record executed in 1917, showed he was born October 10, 1890. Based on a consideration of the probative value of all the evidence (with due regard to the purpose of each document, the formality of recordation, its location, its age , etc.), held, the weight of the evidence establishes the worker's date of birth as October 10, 1890.

A worker, R, filed application for old-age insurance benefits in September 1962, stating he was born October 10, 1890. He had been fully insured for a number of years, had earned wages of $450 for each month since 1960, and expected to continue working at the same rate for the next year or more. R stated he was unable to furnish a birth certificate because the State in which he was born had not maintained records of birth at that time. The evidence bearing upon his age is summarized below, with the oldest records appearing first:

(1) A family Bible, published in 1880, in which were shown in faded ink the names and birthdates of R and other members of his family. R's birthdate was shown as October 10, 1890. However, the "1890" part of this entry was not faded, and had obviously been entered in recent years, after erasure of the previous entry as to year of birth.

(2) A certification from the 1900 Federal Census records, from data taken as of June 1, 1900, showing R's age as 9 and the year of his birth as 1891. The month of birth was called for on the 1900 census record but was not reported for R.

(3) A certification from X County poll-tax records for 1910, showing that R first paid poll tax in that year, accompanied by evidence that under appropriate State law a citizen was required to be age 21 before he paid a poll tax.

(4) A copy of R's World War I draft registration, dated June 5, 1917, showing his birthdate as October 10, 1890.

(5) A Form SS-5 "Application for a Social Security Account Number, executed by R in 1936, on which he had then shown his date of birth as October 10, 1891.

(6) An old family record book, owned by a sister of R, and showing his birthdate as October 10, 1890. This sister stated in writing that she had copied this date in 1960 from the family Bible mentioned above.

(7) An affidavit executed in 1962 by another sister of R, in which she stated that she herself was born in 1875 and that R was born October 10, 1890.

By any of the dates of birth indicated in the evidence above, R is entitled to old-age insurance benefits beginning with September 1961, 12 months before the month in which he filed application for such benefits. However, work deductions required under section 203 of the Act because of R's work and earnings preclude payment of benefits for any month of entitlement in which he has not yet attained age 72. If, as he alleges, R was born October 10, 1890, he attained age 72 in October 1962 and benefits for that month and subsequent months will be payable to him despite his work and earnings. (See SSR 62-44, C.B. 1962, p.73.)

Accordingly, it become necessary to evaluate the evidence submitted in order to determine the month in which R attained or will attain age 72.

There is no reason to question R's allegation that he was born on October 10, since all evidence is to month and day of birth corroborates this allegation. However, there is some conflict as to the year of birth, which must be resolved by an evaluation of the conflicting items of evidence according to their relative probative value. (Regulations No. 4, ยง 404.703.) The relative probative force of a document will be determined from the purpose for which it was recorded, the basis for the record, the formality of the record, its location, and its age.

The year of birth shown in the family Bible, and the 1900 census record, are not as reliable in the present case as the age of these records might indicate. The Bible entry showing 1890 as the year of birth had been changed in recent years, quite possibly from some other year initially entered when R was an infant. The census record, showing that R was age 9 on June 1, 1900, and was born in 1891, is somewhat self-contradictory; for the age 9 entry indicates that R was born in either 1890 or 1891, depending on whether age was given as of his last birthday or his next.

From the fact that R paid a poll tax in 1910, and should have been at least 21 at that time, an inference could be drawn that he was born in 1889 or possibly earlier, based upon the assumption that he was age 21 as required. However, the poll-tax record does not show any age or date of birth; the inference would conflict with R's current allegation and other evidence submitted; and it is possible that R paid the tax before he was 21, because of mistake as to the law or for some other reason.

The World War I draft registration record is of much grater probative value. This record was established as long ago as 1917, for a purpose of considerable importance, with respect to which the date of birth was material. The birthdate shown on this record is consistent with that sworn to by R's older sister and with his own allegation.

As against such evidence, the SS-5 form, showing R's year of birth as 1891, is of much lesser probative value: the year of birth was not material, the form itself of less importance than a draft registration, and the date of execution 19 years later than the World War I draft record.

Accordingly, it is held that R's date of birth is October 10, 1890, as alleged. Therefore, he attained age 72 in October 1962 and old-age insurance benefits, beginning with the benefit for that month, are payable to him despite his work and earnings.


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