(Previously Published as PPS-57)

SSR 81-16


PURPOSE: To state the policy for establishing the date of birth (DB) for claimants who were survivors of Nazi persecution, the Holocaust.

CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): Section 205 of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 4, sections 404.705 and 404.716; Statement by the Secretary of Health and Human Services dated September 10, 1980.

PERTINENT HISTORY: During World War II, many victims caught up in the Holocaust falsified their ages to survive. While people of the Jewish religion were the prime targets of this persecution, other groups of people were also systematically persecuted and exterminated. Among targets of Nazi persecution were adults over thirty (particularly women) and children who were considered to be useless to the Nazis and were summarily executed. Those individuals who were in the approximate age range of 18 to 30 were usually sentenced to work camps where they could survive for longer periods. Those individuals who were older but were able to convince the Nazis that they were younger avoided being sent to the death camps.

Most of those who survived continued to use the incorrect DB and transferred it to official documents, including Immigration and Naturalization Service records of those emigrating to the United States (U.S.). Most believed that any change could result in being refused entry into the U.S., of, if already here, deportation. The ages shown in the documents which form the U.S. domestic evidence were thus the incorrect ages which these individuals adopted in order to enhance their chances for survival.

Normally, these documents, being the oldest, were the basis for our determinations of the DB.

Since the circumstances under which the incorrect DB's were established were extraordinary and invariably involved a life- threatening situation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has revised its proof-of-age requirements to avoid reliance on documents based on this false information.

POLICY STATEMENT: Special rules of evidence apply to claimants for titles II, XVI, and XVIII benefits who were victims of Nazi persecution during World War II, the survivors of the Holocaust. Under the special procedures, the emphasis in development is directed toward establishing the fact that the claimant is a Holocaust survivor and assisting that individual in obtaining such evidence when necessary. When the claimant states that the age indicated in domestic evidence is an incorrect age which was adopted in order to escape extermination, the special rules will be applied to establish the claimant's DB.

The following guidelines will govern development of evidence of age in these cases:

1. This policy change applies only to survivors who misstated their ages in order to avoid persecution, confinement, or extermination in Nazi concentration camps.
2. Evidence must establish that the claimants are Holocaust survivors in order to apply these special proof-of-age procedures.
3. This policy applies to persecuted groups including but not limited to Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Blacks, and Orientals.
4. Evidence of age established early in life may be scarce or nonexistent for individuals born in Eastern Europe. Religious records were destroyed in recurrent acts of vandalism, and civil records were destroyed during incendiary bombing raids or shelling which frequently leveled large areas in the larger cities. Therefore, the guides for evaluating evidence will be applied with the realization that the date the evidence was established in these cases will rarely play a part in the evaluation process.
5. Prior filings: Where a claimant meets the requirements specified in this PPS for determining age as a Holocaust survivor, the DB can be established based on the PPS criteria effective no earlier than September 1980, even where a prior determination or decision could otherwise be reopened and revised under the rules of administrative finality. The age may be changed only for prospective benefits, effective with the month in which the request or protective statement is received in SSA.

A person claiming to be a survivor of the Holocaust will be asked to submit evidence of such status (see Further Information). If satisfactory evidence of this status is submitted by the claimant or can be obtained with SSA assistance, SSA will attempt to obtain preferred evidence of age (i.e., a public or religious record of birth established before age 5) for the claimant from the country of birth.

Where preferred evidence of age is not available, statements of friends of relatives who have knowledge of the claimant's correct DB will be taken. If no friends or relatives can attest to the claimant's allegation of DB, SSA will accept a statement from the claimant.

The statement(s) will explain the change in DB, and how the person making the statement knows the DB. SSA will establish the DB stated by the claimant to be his or her correct DB in the absence of preferred evidence of age or other convincing evidence to the contrary derived from a period not related to the Holocaust.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This change of policy, is effective as of September 10, 1980, the date the statement of the Secretary of Health and Human Services which enunciated the new policy was released. Therefore, benefits are payable pursuant to the change of position (i.e., establishing the individual's DB based on a statement) no earlier than for the month of September 1980.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Evidence that an individual is a survivor of the Holocaust includes, but is not limited to:

1. Tattooed numbers (no set number of digits) on the forearm, or a scar indicating surgical removal of the tattoo;
2. Award letters or other correspondence from the West German Government under the indemnification procedures. (The West German Government made such payments to some survivors of the Holocaust who filed within certain timeframes.) Such survivors need not have lived in what was then or is now Germany;
3. Copies of depositions made to apply for indemnification from the West German Government after the cut-off dates. Some survivors who were otherwise qualified for the payments failed to file on time;
4. Copies of depositions made in connection with the prosecution of war criminals;
5. Documents identifying the bearer as a displaced person, an inmate of a concentration or work camp, or similar documents from that period. There will be very few such documents because the survivors were routinely stripped of them as the war drew to a close;
6. Identification papers issued by Nazi Germany or occupation authorities identifying the person as Jewish, including passports issued by Germany with a large red "J" stamped across it;
7. Proof of residence in one of the following countries during the period beginning with the year indicated in parenthesis and ending before 1946; and the person is a member of one of the groups which had been singled out for extermination by the Nazis; i.e., Jews, Gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses, Blacks, Orientals (and perhaps certain other groups as well):
ALBANIA (1939)
AUSTRIA (1939)
BELGIUM (1940)
DENMARK (1940)
ESTONIA (1941)
FINLAND (1941)
FRANCE (1940)
GREECE (1941)
HUNGARY (1939)
ITALY (1939)
LATVIA (1941)
LIBYA (1941)
NORWAY (1940)
POLAND (1939)
RUMANIA (1939)
U.S.S.R. (1941)

CROSS-REFERENCES: Claims Manual sections 2263-2266.4

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