POMS Reference

GN 00307: Foreign Evidence

TN 31 (08-05)

A. Background

Because RCC records were given to the civil authorities in 1914, church records prior to that date are virtually nonexistent. While some churches claim to have indexes for those years, experience has shown they were compiled at later dates (usually in the 1930s).

Church records for events after the 1914 transfer are incomplete. In addition, because priests have altered and “corrected” these records, certifications from them are unreliable without a personal examination of the source records.

B. Policy

SSA uses certifications of church records as evidence of a factor of entitlement only after:

  • Receipt of a negative certification from the civil authorities; and

  • FSP examination of the source record (see GN 00307.401C.).

NOTE: Most people in the CV belong to the RCC. However, there are some Protestant churches. The largest is the Church of the Nazarene which came to the CV in the early 1900s. Certifications from other religious sources are treated the same as RCC records.

C. Procedure

1. Requests for FSP Verification

Ask the FSP to verify the accuracy and genuineness of the certification by a personal examination of the source record. If no recordation date is shown, ask the FSP also to determine, if possible, the age and authenticity of the entry. Attach a clear and complete copy of the certificate to the request.

See GN 00904.220 for requesting FSP assistance.

2. Conflicting Documents

Request FSP examination of both source records before determining which can be used to establish the factor of entitlement if the claimant:

  1. Submits both a civil and religious record, and

  2. Insists the religious record (not the civil record) is correct.