TN 41 (06-19)

GN 00306.105 Section 216(h)(3) – Federal Standard for a Parent-Child Relationship Based on Written Acknowledgment

CITATIONS:

Social Security Act - Sec. 216(h)(3);
Regulations No. 4 - Secs. 404.355, 404.731

A. Policy for a section 216(h)(3) child based on number holder’s (NH) written acknowledgment

When a child is the NH’s biological child, the child may satisfy the relationship requirement under section 216(h)(3) of the Social Security Act (Act) if, during the NH’s lifetime, the NH acknowledged the child as his or her child in a written statement.

The child must be conceived (in the womb) or born at the time of the acknowledgment.

Even if the NH acknowledged the child in writing, you must consider evidence showing that the NH is not the child's biological parent (see GN 00306.105E).

NOTE: If a child was born but not listed on the NH's RIB or DIB application, and the NH subsequently acknowledges the child in writing, this discrepancy suggests doubt as to the biological relationship, in the absence of a reasonable explanation for the delayed acknowledgment. In this case, follow instructions for establishing a parent-child relationship based on other satisfactory evidence in GN 00306.125.

B. Criteria for written acknowledgment under section 216(h)(3)

When evaluating the NH’s written acknowledgment of his or her child, the statement must both:

  • identify the child by name, or otherwise reference the specific child in an identifiable manner, e.g., as the child born to a specific person on a certain date or the child who is the unborn sibling of another named child; and

  • clearly acknowledge or identify the child as the NH’s child.

The acknowledgment may:

  • be signed or unsigned;

  • be either in the NH’s handwriting or recorded in writing by someone else at the NH’s express direction, e.g., SSA’s electronic record of an 800# lead, clearly based on the NH’s phone call;

  • be in any format or on any material;

  • not necessarily be in line with State laws regarding written acknowledgment for intestacy purposes; or

  • no longer be in existence or be unobtainable. If the acknowledgment no longer exists or cannot be obtained, the requirements are met if clear and convincing evidence supports that this evidence did exist. Clear and convincing evidence is any evidence showing that the alleged prior existence of the acknowledgment is substantially more likely to be true than untrue. Use caution in evaluating such evidence.

NOTE: For written acknowledgment under section 216(h)(3), definitions or precedents as to what constitutes written acknowledgment under State laws on legitimation or inheritance rights are not controlling.

C. Evidence of the written acknowledgment

Include evidence of the NH's written acknowledgment in the claims file. Consider all possible sources of written acknowledgment, including those listed in this subsection and those suggested on Form SSA-2519 Child Relationship Statement (see GN 00306.300).

1. Original or copy of the written acknowledgment

If possible, obtain the original written acknowledgment.

If the original document is not available, in certain circumstances a photocopy or a true and exact copy may be used. For more information, see GN 00301.030 and GN 00301.090.

If the acknowledgment is not signed, obtain evidence as to whether the NH prepared it.

If the writing is no longer in existence or it is unobtainable, the requirement is met if clear and convincing evidence shows that the NH acknowledged the child in writing. Clear and convincing evidence is any evidence showing that the alleged prior existence of the acknowledgment is substantially more likely to be true than untrue.

2. Child's full birth certificate (BC)

For policy on using information from a child's BC as written acknowledgment, see GN 00306.120.

3. Child's Numident

The Numident constitutes evidence of written acknowledgment if it:

  • includes an iteration that shows a "6" in the form code (FMC) field of the INTERNAL line, indicating an Enumeration at Birth (EAB) record;

  • shows the NH's name in the mother's name at birth (MNA) or father's name (FNA) field of the EAB Numident, setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020A.2.C;

  • does not show a name other than the NH's in the same field (MNA or FNA) in iterations following EAB; and

  • the NH's written consent was required by the State during the EAB process. Contact the State Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) or use a relevant precedent opinion to determine if written consent was required. For more information, see GN 00306.120.

4. Federal or State income tax return

A Federal or state income tax return where the NH listed the child as a dependent by name constitutes written acknowledgment.

Accept a copy of the NH's Federal income tax return from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or a comparable written record from the NH's tax preparer.

Accept a copy of the NH's State income tax return from the State's tax office or a comparable written record from the NH's tax preparer.

NOTE: Neither the IRS nor State tax offices provide copies of tax returns to SSA, and may charge the NH a fee for supplying a copy.

5. Modernized Claims System (MCS) screens

The NH may have listed the child on his or her retirement or disability insurance benefits (RIB or DIB) application, such as on the Dependent Children of NH (DEPC) or Remarks (RMKS) screens. If so, use the listing on the application as written acknowledgment if:

  • the Application (APPL) screen shows that the NH was the applicant; or

  • the RMKS screen shows that the requirements in GN 00306.105A and GN 00306.105B are met.

If not, do not consider the listing of the child as a written acknowledgment and obtain other evidence.

If you use an MCS screen as written acknowledgment, document the child's claim using a Report of Contact (RPOC) in MCS.

NOTE: If the MCS screens are archived, unarchive the screens to review them.

D. Child's biological relationship to the NH

Do not raise the issue of the child's biological relationship to the NH if the Numident:

  • includes an iteration that shows a "6" in the form code (FMC) field of the INTERNAL line, indicating an Enumeration at Birth (EAB) record;

  • shows the NH's name in the mother's name at birth (MNA) or father's name (FNA) field of the EAB record, setting aside minor discrepancies as described in GN 00203.020A.2.C and taking into consideration any other names the alleged parent may have used;

  • does not show a name other than the NH's in the same field (MNA or FNA) in iterations following EAB; and

  • if the NH is deceased, shows the EAB record was established prior to the NH's death.

If there is no Numident record meeting this criteria, obtain a full birth certificate (BC), i.e., one with spaces for parents' names. If the full BC shows the NH as the child's parent or the space for the parent's name is blank, do not raise the issue of biological parentage unless information in the file casts some doubt on the issue or there is any other reason to doubt the biological relationship (see GN 00306.105E).

If the full BC shows someone other than the NH as the child's parent or if a BC without spaces for parents' names is the only BC that can be obtained, e.g. because the State does not issue full BCs, document this on the MCS RPOC screen and follow the guidelines in GN 00306.125 to develop biological relationship.

E. Reasons to doubt biological relationship

Section 216(h)(3) requires that the child must be the NH's son or daughter. Therefore, even if the written acknowledgment meets the criteria in GN 00306.105B, you must consider evidence that the NH is not the child's biological parent.

Reasons to doubt the biological relationship include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • a child was born but not listed on the NH's RIB or DIB application, and the NH subsequently acknowledges the child in writing;

  • a BC without spaces for the parents' names is the only BC that can be obtained and the EAB Numident does not meet the criteria in GN 00306.105D;

  • the Enumeration at Birth (EAB) Numident or full BC shows someone other than the NH as the child's parent;

  • the EAB Numident is dated after the death of the NH; or

  • the BC was issued after the death of the NH.

In circumstances where there is reason to doubt the biological relationship, you must develop additional evidence that the child is the NH's biological child (see GN 00306.125B.1)

IMPORTANT: If the biological relationship is in doubt, document the full set of circumstances and the parentage determination (if you can make one) on a MCS RPOC screen or an SSA-5002 Report of Contact in non-MCS cases. If after pursuing additional development and consulting relevant precedent opinions the relationship remains unclear, request a legal opinion following instructions in GN 00306.305 and GN 01010.815.

F. Effective date of parent-child relationship based on written acknowledgment

The parent-child relationship does not begin until the date of the written acknowledgment, unless the evidence points to an earlier date. For information on using Form SSA-2514 Record of Claimant's intent to file or its electronic equivalent to protect the date of a written acknowledgment, see GN 00306.105G.

If multiple written acknowledgments are available, determine which writing is easiest to obtain and entitle the child. Later, obtain the writing that provides the child with the earliest month of entitlement.

You may need to develop other evidence of the parent child relationship where retroactivity is at issue. For information on retroactivity for child's benefits, see RS 00203.001A.2.

EXAMPLE: If the NH acknowledged the child on his or her Application for Retirement Insurance Benefits (SSA-1) but there are retroactive benefits due the child, the acknowledgment on the SSA-1 will permit payment only from the month of filing. In order to pay the child for the retroactive period, you must establish that an earlier acknowledgment, court decree, or court order exists, or that the other evidence proves that the child meets the conditions for the earlier period.

G. Use of SSA-2514 or electronic equivalent to protect date of written acknowledgment

When the NH's application (or the NH's application on behalf of the child) constitutes written acknowledgment of a child for purposes of section 216(h)(3), Form SSA-2514 or its electronic equivalent will protect the date of written acknowledgment if:

  • the NH is shown as the person who contacted SSA;

  • an intent to file for the child is shown, e.g., child is listed by name or beneficiary identification code (BIC); and

  • there is no question that the child or children for whom the application is filed is the same as the child or children referred to on the SSA-2514 or electronic equivalent.

H. Dependency for NH's child based on written acknowledgment

If you establish the child's relationship to the NH based on the written acknowledgment provision of section 216(h)(3), deem the child dependent on the NH unless someone other than the NH adopts the child during the NH's lifetime (see GN 00306.165).

I. Month of entitlement to child's benefits based on written acknowledgment

For policy on the first month of entitlement (MOET) for child's benefits, see RS 00203.005 for death cases and RS 00203.010 for life case.

J. References

  • GN 00306.100 Overview of Section 216(h)(3) – Federal Standard for a Parent-Child Relationship for Title II Child's Benefits

  • GN 00306.110 Section 216(h)(3) – Federal Standard for a Parent-Child Relationship Based on Court Decree or Court Order for Support

  • GN 00306.125 Section 216(h)(3) – Federal Standard for a Parent-Child Relationship Based on Other Satisfactory Evidence and Living With or Support

  • GN 00306.165 Entitlement Requirements - Child Adopted by Someone Other Than NH

  • GN 00306.305 Determining Status as Number Holder's Child: When to Request a Legal Opinion

  • GN 00306.310 Challenges to a Parent-Child Relationship Determination

  • GN 00306.315 Disallowing a Title II Child Claim Based on Failure to Establish Relationship

  • PR 01210.000 State Law Requirements For Showing Information About Father On Child's BC – Table of Contents

  • RS 00203.005 Child's Benefits First Month of Entitlement (MOET) in Death Cases

  • RS 00203.010 Child's Benefits First Month of Entitlement (MOET) in Life Cases


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200306105
GN 00306.105 - Section 216(h)(3) – Federal Standard for a Parent-Child Relationship Based on Written Acknowledgment - 12/14/1998
Batch run: 06/21/2019
Rev:12/14/1998