GN 00302.325 Establishing the DB for Holocaust Survivors — General

A. Introduction

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.

B. Age affected odds of survival

Among targets of Nazi persecution were adults over 30 (particularly women) and children who were considered to be useless and were summarily executed. Those individuals who were approximately 18-30 years old were usually sentenced to work camps where they could survive for longer periods. Those who were older, but were able to convince the Nazis that they were younger, often avoided being sent to the death camps. Assignments to work camps and concentration camps were done hastily, based largely on the person's physical appearance.

C. Continued use of incorrect DB

Most of those who survived continued to use the incorrect DB on all their documents, believing that a change could result in being refused entry into the U.S., or if already here, deportation.

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

D. Scarcity of early evidence of age

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 often destroyed during incendiary bombing raids or shelling which frequently leveled large sections of the larger cities.

The guides for evaluating evidence and the normal material discrepancy rules will not apply for those who have established survivor status, since early evidence frequently does not exist, and we know the reason that a discrepant DB was used.

E. Change of position

Since the circumstances under which the incorrect DB's were established were extraordinary and invariably involved a life-threatening situation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services released a statement on 9/10/80 which announced a change of position regarding evidence requirements for proving the age of Holocaust survivors.

Benefits are payable pursuant to this change of position for months beginning no earlier than 9/80.

F. Policy

Special rules of evidence apply to claimants who were victims of Nazi persecution during World War II. Under these procedures, the development emphasis is directed toward establishing that the claimant is a Holocaust survivor, and assisting that claimant in obtaining evidence when necessary. SSA thus avoids reliance on documents based on the false DB which was adopted to enhance the claimant's chances for survival, and establishes the DB based on the procedures in GN 00302.330.

G. Cross-references

  • See GN 00302.327 for the definition of survivor used for this policy.

  • See GN 00302.335-GN 00302.340 for a description of the evidence which may be used to help establish survivor status.

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GN 00302.325 - Establishing the DB for Holocaust Survivors — General - 10/06/1994
Batch run: 10/06/1994