On January 31, 2003, Nancy and Joseph K~, the adoptive parents of Zachary E. K~ (Zachary),
applied for a Social Security card on Zachary's behalf. They indicated on the application
that Zachary's birth date was June 2, 1992, a revised birth date that was one year
younger than Zachary's actual chronological age. Zachary's federal permanent resident
card showed that his birth date was June 2, 1991. The Immigration and Naturalization
Service also recorded his birth date as June 2, 1991. Zachary came to the United States
for his international adoption in June 2002. ]
Section 3107.18(C) of the Ohio Revised Code allows adoptive parents to request the
county court revise their child's birth date, if a physician has recommended a revision.
Here, Zachary's adoptive parents applied for and were granted a revision of Zachary's
birth date from the probate court of Hamilton County, Ohio. The court's judgment entry
of December 9, 2002, revised Zachary's birth date, pursuant to Section 3107.18(c)
of the Ohio Revised Code, so that he would be one year younger than his actual chronological
age. Zachary's parents petitioned the court for the birth date change on the advice
of Mary A. S~, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician and director of the International Adoption
Center, who examined Zachary and found he was delayed educationally, emotionally,
and socially. Dr. S~ explained that his delays were due in part to sub-optimal nutrition
and care received when Zachary was in an orphanage in Bulgaria. Dr. S~ surmised that
a change in the child's birth date to make him one year younger would help compensate
for the discrepancy between his chronological age and his developmental milestones.
The Social Security Act, Regulations, Rulings, and POMS do not directly address whether
to allow a change in an individual's birth date based on a state statute that allows
revisions of birth dates for adopted children. The regulations at 20 C.F.R. 401.65
allow an individual to correct mistakes in his birth record. Likewise, POMS GN 00302.327E and SSR 81-16 allow Holocaust survivors to correct birth dates that were changed
to avoid Nazi persecution. SSR 65-34c and 75-15c address evidence to consider as proof
of a mistaken birth date. However, there is no question of mistake here. Zachary's
parents acknowledge that his actual birth date was June 2, 1991, and that they legally
changed it on the basis of a physician's recommendation under an Ohio statute that
allows such a change. Thus, the regulation, POMS provision, and rulings that allow
corrections of birth date mistakes do not appear to be relevant here.
POMS DI 25215.010 allows the application of a "corrected chronological age" for a premature infant
when evaluating a child's developmental delays. This provision is used when evaluating
disability in children who were born prematurely, to determine whether their developmental
delays are the result of a medically determinable impairment or attributable to the
child's prematurity. The child's prematurity is only considered so long as it is a
relevant factor, with most developmental delays resolved by about chronological age
two. This POMS provision does not appear to apply to Zachary, as he is merely applying
for a Social Security number, not disability benefits. Moreover, he is eleven years
old, and his developmental delays were attributed to poor care in Bulgaria, rather
than premature birth. In any event, this provision does not state that the individual's
date of birth will be adjusted for all purposes.
However, the POMS make clear that a birth certificate does not always control in determining
an individual's date of birth, especially when the certificate was created after age
5, and when there is significant reliable evidence indicating that the date of birth
is other than that listed on the birth certificate. e.g., POMS GN 00302.054(B), GN 00302.160, GN00302.165. We contacted a policy expert in the Office of Income Security Programs,
who advised that the actual date of birth should be recorded on the numident record,
regardless of whether state law would allow the individual to change the date of birth
for emotional or other reasons. This policy seems sound since, as you noted, the date
of birth could affect future entitlement to or amounts of benefits. Moreover, the
POMS provide that, once claimants have established their age in connection with an
SSN application, they will not be required to resubmit evidence of age if they later
refile, unless the adjudicator has reason to question the accuracy of the proven age.
POMS GN 00302.010(B). Thus, it seems appropriate to record the actual date of birth at the time of
the SSN application, since an adjudicator may not have sufficient information to question
the accuracy of the date when a subsequent application is filed.
Thank you for requesting our input.