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Collier v. Apfel

91 F. Supp. 2d 904 (2000)

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Collier v. Apfel

United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

91 F. Supp. 2d 904 (2000)

Facts

Collier (plaintiff) applied for Social Security retirement benefits, providing a delayed birth certificate as proof of his age for eligibility. Collier’s birth certificate indicated his birthdate was February 20, 1927; however, it was not entered when Collier was born. Rather, a state circuit court entered the delayed birth certificate based on testimony of Collier’s family and friends in 1980. The circuit court also ordered that Collier’s birthdate be changed in Virginia’s record of vital statistics to reflect the 1927 date. Collier included his driver’s license, which issued in 1993, with his benefits application and provided family and friend testimony to prove his age for eligibility. An administrative-law judge (ALJ) issued a favorable benefits determination after finding that the evidence best supported Collier’s proof of age based on the 1927 date. However, the appeals council later reversed the ALJ’s decision based on the 1940 Federal Census that was filled out by Collier’s mother and indicated that the family had a seven-year-old child, making Collier’s birth year either 1932 or 1933. The later birthdate disqualified Collier from receiving benefits. The appeals-council decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Kenneth Apfel (defendant). Collier filed suit in United States district court to overcome the denial. The district-court magistrate gave great weight to the delayed birth certificate, finding it to be preferred evidence of Collier’s age, and remanded the case for further consideration consistent with the judge’s recommendation. Apfel appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Michael, J.)

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