A-87637, AUGUST 6, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 105

A-87637: Aug 6, 1937

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THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO PROPOSED PROCEDURE WHEREBY THE ULTIMATE FACT OF WAGE EARNER'S DEATH BEFORE AGE 65 WOULD BE FOUND BY THE BOARD FROM SUBSTANTIATING EVIDENCE AT HAND WITHOUT FURTHER INQUIRY AS TO THE EXACT DATE OF BIRTH OR DEATH. THERE SHALL BE PAID TO HIS ESTATE AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 3 1/2 PERCENTUM OF THE TOTAL WAGES DETERMINED BY THE BOARD TO HAVE BEEN PAID TO HIM. CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT ARE FILED EITHER BY THE ADMINISTRATOR. BY PERSONS "ENTITLED THERETO UNDER THE LAW OF THE STATE IN WHICH THE DECEASED WAS DOMICILED.'. (F) SOMETIMES BY THE AUTHORITIES MENTIONED IN (C) SUPRA (IN THE OTHER CASES AGE OR APPROXIMATE AGE AT DEATH IS GIVEN). THAT THE TRUE DATE WAS JUNE 6. WHERE THE ULTIMATE FACT THAT THE WAGE EARNER'S DEATH BEFORE SIXTY-FIVE IS SHOWN WITHOUT QUESTION AND NO SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES EXIST.

A-87637, AUGUST 6, 1937, 17 COMP. GEN. 105

SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD - PAYMENTS - DECEASED BENEFICIARIES - DETERMINATION AS TO AGE THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD BEING CHARGED BY LAW WITH THE DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF DETERMINING FACTS CONCERNING ELIGIBILITY FOR PAYMENTS UNDER SECTION 203 (A) OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT OF AUGUST 14, 1935, 49 STAT. 623, THERE IS NO OBJECTION TO PROPOSED PROCEDURE WHEREBY THE ULTIMATE FACT OF WAGE EARNER'S DEATH BEFORE AGE 65 WOULD BE FOUND BY THE BOARD FROM SUBSTANTIATING EVIDENCE AT HAND WITHOUT FURTHER INQUIRY AS TO THE EXACT DATE OF BIRTH OR DEATH.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE CHAIRMAN, SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD, AUGUST 6, 1937:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JULY 13, 1937, AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 203 (A) OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT PROVIDES:

"IF ANY INDIVIDUAL DIES BEFORE ATTAINING THE AGE OF SIXTY-FIVE, THERE SHALL BE PAID TO HIS ESTATE AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 3 1/2 PERCENTUM OF THE TOTAL WAGES DETERMINED BY THE BOARD TO HAVE BEEN PAID TO HIM, WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYMENT AFTER DECEMBER 31, 1936.'

PAYMENT UNDER THIS SECTION NECESSITATES BOARD DETERMINATION (1) OF TOTAL WAGES WITH RESPECT TO EMPLOYMENT AFTER DECEMBER 31, 1936, AND (2) THAT THE INDIVIDUAL DIED BEFORE ATTAINING THE AGE OF SIXTY-FIVE.

ON DEATH OF THE WAGE EARNER, CLAIMS FOR PAYMENT ARE FILED EITHER BY THE ADMINISTRATOR, EXECUTOR, OR AS AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 205 OF THE ACT, BY PERSONS "ENTITLED THERETO UNDER THE LAW OF THE STATE IN WHICH THE DECEASED WAS DOMICILED.'

IN CONNECTION WITH THESE CLAIMS, THE BOARD TYPICALLY HAS BEFORE IT AS PROOF THAT THE INDIVIDUAL DIED BEFORE ATTAINING THE AGE OF SIXTY FIVE, THE FOLLOWING---

STATEMENTS REGARDING THE DATE OF DEATH---

(A) BY THE EMPLOYER OR EMPLOYERS ON FORM SS-3 OR FORM OAC-1001, OR ON BOTH.

(B) BY THE CLAIMANT, ON FORM OAC-1003, OR 1004, OR 1005.

(C) BY THE UNDERTAKER, ATTENDING PHYSICIAN, CUSTODIAN OF PUBLIC RECORDS, CORONER, OR HOSPITAL AUTHORITY.

STATEMENTS REGARDING THE DATE OF BIRTH---

(D) BY THE WAGE EARNER ON FORM SS-5 AND SOMETIMES ALSO BY LETTER.

(E) BY THE CLAIMANT ON FORM OAC-1003, OR 1004, OR 1005.

(F) SOMETIMES BY THE AUTHORITIES MENTIONED IN (C) SUPRA (IN THE OTHER CASES AGE OR APPROXIMATE AGE AT DEATH IS GIVEN).

QUITE FREQUENTLY THERE MAY BE SOME CONFLICT IN THE VARIOUS STATEMENTS AS TO THE EXACT DATE OF BIRTH OR AS TO THE EXACT DATE OF DEATH, THOUGH IT APPEARS VERY DEFINITELY FROM ALL THE STATEMENTS THAT THE WAGE EARNER DIED PRIOR TO ATTAINING AGE SIXTY-FIVE. FOR EXAMPLE, THERE MAY BE A DAY OR TWO VARIANCE IN THE DATE OF DEATH GIVEN BY THE EMPLOYER AND THAT GIVEN BY THE PUBLIC RECORD OF DEATH OR BY THE CLAIMANT. ONE MAY SHOW MARCH 26, 1937, AND ONE MARCH 27, 1937.

THERE MAY BE A VARIANCE IN STATEMENTS AS TO DATE OF BIRTH. THE SS 5 MAY SHOW DATE OF BIRTH JANUARY 5, 1885, WHILE A LETTER FROM APPLICANT TO THE BOARD SHORTLY THEREAFTER WOULD ADVISE THAT FOR FEAR OF LOSING HIS JOB, APPLICANT FILLED OUT AN INCORRECT DATE, AS THE EMPLOYER INSISTED UPON SEEING THE SS-5, AND THAT THE TRUE DATE WAS JUNE 6, 1880. THE CLAIMANT MAY STATE AS TO DATE OF BIRTH "ABOUT 1881" AND GIVE A STATEMENT EXPLAINING WHY NO MORE DEFINITE DATE COULD BE GIVEN.

DESPITE THESE VARIANCES, WHERE THE ULTIMATE FACT THAT THE WAGE EARNER'S DEATH BEFORE SIXTY-FIVE IS SHOWN WITHOUT QUESTION AND NO SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES EXIST, IT WOULD USUALLY APPEAR BOTH SAFE AND EXPEDIENT TO MAKE THE NECESSARY FINDING OF DEATH BEFORE SIXTY-FIVE WITHOUT MAKING FURTHER INQUIRY AS TO EXACT DATE OF BIRTH OR DEATH, IF THIS PROCEDURE WOULD BE SATISFACTORY FOR YOUR PURPOSES.

YOUR ADVICE IN THE PREMISES WOULD BE APPRECIATED.

WHETHER OR NOT AN INDIVIDUAL DIED BEFORE ATTAINING THE AGE OF 65 YEARS, AND THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF WAGES PAID TO SAID INDIVIDUAL SUBSEQUENT TO DECEMBER 31, 1936, ARE QUESTIONS OF FACT FOR DETERMINATION BY THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD UPON THE BEST EVIDENCE OBTAINABLE, STATISTICAL AND OTHERWISE, AND THE DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF MAKING SUCH DETERMINATION ARE, BY NECESSARY IMPLICATION, IMPOSED UPON THE BOARD BY THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT OF AUGUST 14, 1935, 49 STAT. 620, ET SEQ.

THEREFORE, WHERE THE ULTIMATE FACT THAT THE WAGE EARNER'S DEATH BEFORE THE AGE OF 65 IS SHOWN WITHOUT QUESTION OR SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCE TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE BOARD, AND THERE IS A FINDING OF FACT BY THE BOARD TO THAT EFFECT, THIS OFFICE IS NOT REQUIRED TO QUESTION THE CORRECTNESS OF SUCH FINDING, EVEN THOUGH THE EXACT DATE OF BIRTH OR DEATH IS NOT SHOWN HERE.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE PROCEDURE SUGGESTED IN THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER WILL BE SATISFACTORY FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS OFFICE, PROVIDED SUCH FINDING OF FACT ACCOMPANIES VOUCHER FOR PAYMENT.