In the absence of unusual circumstances reflecting upon their accuracy, documents originating many years ago normally provide a basis for establishing an individual's correct date of birth. Affidavits recently executed by relatives and friends showing a different date of birth held not to have sufficient probative value to overcome the documentary evidence.

On an application for old-age insurance benefits filed December 23, 1958, A stated that she was born in 1890 but did not know the month or day of her birth. When she completed an application for a social security account number on November 24, 1936, A alleged that she was born on May 21, 1903.

Section 202(a) of the Social Security Act provides for the payment of old-age insurance benefits to an individual who has reached retirement age and is otherwise eligible for such benefits. Section 216(a) provides that the retirement age for women is 62.

A submitted the following evidence as proof of age:

Document Date of Document Date of Birth Shown
Polish Passport February 19, 1926 1898
Petition for Naturalization April 15, 1929 May 1, 1903
Naturalization Certificate April 1, 1936 May 1, 1903
Affidavit of B November 23, 1958 1890
Affidavit of C November 25, 1958 1890
Affidavit of D December 6, 1958 1890
Affidavit of E December 6, 1958 1890
Affidavit of F December 18, 1958 1889-1890 (almost 68 years of age)
Affidavit of G June 17, 1959 Age 68 or 69 (No date of birth indicated)

The first five affidavits were executed by individuals who allege that they were A's neighbors in Poland and know her date of birth. Their alleged knowledge of the year of her birth was based on memory and the month and date of birth are unknown. They state that they lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone else and they alleged that birth records of the village were kept in an adjoining town in the same office which issued passports and the date of birth on passports was filled in from the official birth records.

The sixth affidavit was executed by A's nephew, whose approximation of her age was based on remarks heard in his home while A was a boarder there in 1926. The remarks indicated that his aunt was ten years younger than his father, H, who died in 1934 at the age of 54.

Although A shows only the year 1890 on her application for benefits, she later alleged that she recalled that she was born in May 1890 but did not know her day of birth. She was one of a large family and did not know the birth dates of any of her brothers and sisters nor of her parents. The only documents which support the 1890 allegation are the affidavits, executed between November 23, 1958, and June 17, 1959, by A's nephew and five unrelated persons.

Regulations No. 4, § 404.703 specifies, among other things, that in determining the weight to be given evidence offered to prove age, consideration will be given to its general probative value. In determining the relative importance of evidence, consideration is given to the purpose for which a record was established, the basis for the record, the formality of the record, and its location and age.

The oldest record submitted is the passport, issued in February 1926, which gives 1898 as the year of birth. A's explanation of the discrepancy between the birth dates is that she gave her age as 28 instead of 36 when she applied for her passport because she was unmarried and wanted to make herself younger. However, the evidence indicates that the entries on the passport were made from official birth records. The passport, which was issued in February 1926 and is the oldest record submitted, gives 1898 as the year of birth. Since the year of birth on the affidavits was based on memory only, these documents have little probative value inasmuch as the year shown disagrees with the year shown on evidence taken from official records. Therefore, 1898 is established as A's year of birth.

As to the month and day of her birth, A has alleged that she was born in May but does not know the day. The naturalization petition and certificate, dated 1929 and 1936 respectively, show a date of birth of May 1, 1903. Based on these records, which are the oldest showing a month and day of birth, May 1 is established as the month and day of birth.

On the basis of the most reliable evidence submitted as proof of age, it is held, therefore, that A's date of birth is May 1, 1898. Since she had not reached retirement age at the time of her application, she is not entitled to old-age insurance benefits.

Back to Table of Contents