TN 31 (08-05)

GN 00307.678 Establishing Natural Parent-Child Relationship Where the Child Claimant Was Born in Mexico

A. Introduction

Many couples claim children as their own when in fact they are not. In some cases, they are:

  • Grandchildren or other relatives whom the couple has registered as their own with the civil and religious authorities and raised from birth;

  • Foundlings whom they have registered as their own rather than go through legal adoption proceedings;

  • Children who have been falsely shown as the couple's to bring them into the U.S., to increase the family's Social Security benefits or to qualify a young widow who has no children to benefits.

The children in the first two instances may, or may not, know about their true parentage.

B. Policy

In addition to the situations cited in GN 00306.010 and GN 00307.240, SSA verifies the natural parent-child relationship in claims in which:

  • The child was born in Mexico;

  • The mother was over age 40 (i.e., was at least age 41) at the time of the child's birth, regardless of the number of children in the family;

  • There are only 1 or 2 claimants for child's benefits; and

  • The child is under age 18 and living outside the U.S.

Generally, verification of the natural parent-child relationship involves two parts:

  • An interview with each parent (and the custodian of the child if he/ she is not living with either parent);and

  • An investigation by the FSP in Mexico servicing the State in which the child was born.

SSA does not take action to verify the natural parent-child relationship if it is obvious the claim is to be denied (e.g., the NH is not insured). However, if an application is filed later and it appears entitlement does exist, SSA does undertake development to verify the natural parent-child relationship.

The existence of a civil birth certificate or a baptismal record showing the claimed relationship does not rule out the possibility that a child is not the NH's natural child. It is a relatively simple matter to secure such a certificate.

The fact that a child has lived in the U.S. as part of the NH's family is not conclusive evidence of the natural parent-child relationship.

C. Procedure - Interviews

1. General

Question each parent separately about his/her relationship to the child.

If the child is not living with either parent, question the custodian unless the interviews with the parents establish that the child is not entitled to benefits.

NOTE: The child should not be present during the interviews since he /she may not know the truth about his/her parentage. However, he/she can be interviewed separately if care is taken and/or there is reason to believe he/she knows the NH is not his/her natural parent.

2. Content of Interviews

As part of the interviews, get information about the:

a. Circumstances of the child's birth, including:

  • The place of the child's birth;

  • The name and address of the hospital in which the child was born, if appropriate;

  • The name and address of the doctor or midwife who attended the birth, even if the medical attendant is no longer alive;

  • The name and address of any medical source from which the mother received prenatal and/or postnatal treatment;

NOTE: In many cases, the claimants do not intentionally claim a false relationship. The actual parentage can be ascertained by asking simply if the child was born to the couple. A couple who has raised a child is likely to answer “yes” when asked if this is their child because the child is, for all practical purposes their child; whereas a question as to whether the mother gave birth to the child may yield a different answer.

b. Number of children born to the mother and their names and ages/DBs;

c. Mother's address at the time of the child's birth and the dates (or length) of residence at that address (an allegation of a brief stay in Mexico often indicates a relationship problem);

d. Names and addresses of relatives and neighbors in Mexico who know of the child's birth.

e. Addresses at which the child has lived in Mexico and the dates of residence at each place if the child is not living with either parent.

NOTE: Discussion of these topics can lead to other areas to be explored.

Document the file to show the interviews were conducted.

3. Interviews Show Child Is Not NH's Natural Child

If the NH and/or his wife (or the child's mother) states the child is not their natural child:

  1. Secure statements to this effect over their signatures; and

  2. Determine whether the child can be entitled under some other provision of the law.