SSR 60-17. OLDEST RECORD DISAGREES WITH CONVINCING, MORE RECENT EVIDENCE OF AGE
- In establishing an individual's date of birth, while the oldest record of age available ordinarily has the highest probative value, where it can be shown that the oldest record is not correct, the date of birth may be found on the basis of more recent evidence where it is convincingly established by all the evidence considered as a whole.
In 1955, after the death of A, W applied for mother's insurance benefits on his earnings record. At that time she gave her date of birth as December 24, 1899, but her age was not material to her eligibility for benefits as long as she had in her care a child under 18 entitled to benefits. (Section 202(g) of the Social Security Act.) In December 1957, after her son had reached age 18 and they no longer were entitled to benefits, W applied for widow's insurance benefits under section 202(e) alleging that she had already reached the retirement age of 62 and that her correct date of birth was December 24, 1895.
As evidence of her date of birth the following documents were submitted:
- (1) A record of the arrival in the United States of W's family on May 27, 1911, showing her mother's age as 35 and the names and ages of the children as: E, 15; W, 11; H, 9; S, 7; F, 4; and R, 3. This record would establish 1899 as W's year of birth.
- (2) As explanatory statement from W stating, among other things, that the true ages of the children were respectively 18, 15, 13, 12, 9, and 6; but that, by alleging that the children were younger, the family was able to pay only two full and three half steamship fares to the United States (two sailed without fares), instead of being required to pay five full fares and two half fares. The father had arrived in America in the summer of 1906; his funds were very limited; and the saving in fare was a substantial amount to a man in his circumstances at that time.
- (3) Affidavits from five of W's sisters stating their own ages and that W's date of birth was December 24, 1895.
- (4) School records for S, F, and R, the three younger sisters, established in 1914 showing their dates of birth as September 25, 1899, April 5, 1902, and October 15, 1906 respectively.
- (5) A statement from W's optometrist, Dr. D, certifying that his records showed that on July 23, 1935, W gave her date of birth as December 24, 1895. W stated that she gave her true date of birth to Dr. D only upon his insistent request that she tell him her exact age because of the medical consequences.
Regulations No. 4, § 404.703 provides that in determining the weight to be given to evidence offered to prove age, consideration will be given to its general probative value. The probative value of evidence of age is determined by considering such factors as the purpose for which a record was established, the basis for the record, the formality of the record, and its location and age. Other factors being equal, the oldest record normally has the highest probative value.
In this case, however, in the face of the school records made three years later and other explanatory statements, doubt is cast upon the correctness of the 1911 record of the family's arrival in the United States which normally would have great weight and validity in establishing age. The reason for giving incorrect ages for the children at that time was convincingly explained. The school records made in 1914 establish the dates of birth of the three younger children as alleged in their affidavits. R could not have been as young as three years of age and she had to be nearly six at the time she entered the United States since her father had come to the United States about five years earlier. Correspondingly, F could not have been four years of age but had to be nearly nine as is indicated on her school record. W was the second of the six children and must have been born several years before S, the fourth child, whose date of birth was definitely established as September 25, 1899. Although the school records do not establish W's actual date of birth, the doctor's record established in 1935 shows her date of birth as December 24, 1895. This record, which supports W's allegation, was based on information given upon the doctor's insistence and constitutes credible evidence.
It is held, therefore, that the evidence and statements presented are sufficient to establish that W was born on December 24, 1895, as claimed.