Furnishing Evidence to Support Your Claim
Every applicant for railroad retirement benefits or Medicare must submit some
type of documentary evidence or proof to support a claim for benefits. The
purpose of this booklet is to describe the types of acceptable evidence and to
assist you in obtaining these records if they are not in your possession. If,
after following these guidelines, you
are unable to obtain the necessary evidence, contact the nearest field office of the RRB
Evidence submitted in support of an applicant's claim should be:
- an original document; or
- a copy of a public record certified by the custodian of the record.
photocopied, faxed or e-mailed documents are not acceptable;
neither are documents that have been altered in any way.
Most documents brought into the field office will be copied for our records
and returned to you right away. If an original document is received in the mail,
it will be carefully preserved by the RRB and returned to you after we have made
Advance Filing of Proofs
Railroad employees are encouraged to file, in advance of retirement, proof of
their age and military service, and if they are married, proof of their marriage
and their spouse's age. The information is then recorded and stored
electronically until retirement. Advance filing speeds the application
process and helps avoid any delay in processing that could occur due to
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Proof of Age
Proof of age is required of almost every applicant for railroad retirement
monthly benefits or Medicare coverage. Various types of acceptable proofs of age
and places to secure them are listed in this chapter. Always try to secure one
of the documents listed in "Best Proofs of Age." If none of these documents can
be obtained, then you should submit a document listed under "Other Proofs of
Older records are generally considered the best records. Try to secure
evidence made at or near the time of your birth. If you have problems securing
proof of your age, contact the nearest field office of the RRB. The people there
will be glad to assist you. If the document submitted is not sufficient,
additional evidence may be required. If so, the field office will contact you.
Any document to be used for proof of age must show the person's name, age or
date of birth, and preferably, the date on which the record was established. Any
document submitted as proof of age or date of birth must be based on a record
that was established more than 5 years before the date on which you filed an
application for an annuity or Medicare coverage with the Railroad Retirement
Board. Proof of age for a child who is less than 5 years old should be based on
a record made shortly after birth.
Civil record of birth
Bureau of Vital Statistics in State capital of State of birth
Church record of birth or baptism
Church where baptized or confirmed
Notification of registration of birth
County or City Health Department of county or city of birth
Hospital birth record or certificate
Hospital where born
If you do not have one of these records in your possession, try to obtain
one. Churches usually do not destroy their records, and if there was a
record of your date of birth made when you were an infant or a child, it is
probably still on file at the church. Even if the church building itself
is no longer in existence, the records may be available at a diocesan, state, or
regional office of the denomination.
Our field offices have a complete list of addresses and fees for public birth
records in the United States and in many foreign countries. Call or write
the field office to find out where to write and how much to send to obtain your
If you are unable to obtain a record listed under "Best Proofs of Age," use
the "Remarks" section on the application to explain what attempts were made to
secure the record. If you do not have the application, use a plain sheet
Try to obtain a record made early in life; old records are generally the best
records. If you have more than one of the documents previously mentioned,
submit them all.
|Physician's or midwife's birth record
||Doctor or midwife attending birth
| Bible or other family record
|| Member of the family. Do not mail a Bible. If this record is being used, the entire bible must be brought into the field office.
| Naturalization record
||Nearest district office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
| Military record
||See Proof of Military Service of this publication.
| Immigration record
||Nearest district office of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
| Census age record
|| Field office of the RRB will assist you.
| Draft registration record
|| Field office of the RRB will assist you.
| Indian tribal record
|| Tribal council headquarters or National Archives, Washington, D.C. 20203
|| If in your possession, bring to the district office of the RRB
| School record
|| School attended. Department of Public Instruction, Superintendent of Schools, or similar agency if the school has been closed
| Vaccination record
|| City or County Health Department
| Insurance record
|| Insurance company issuing policy
|Labor union or fraternal record
|| Secretary of local labor, fraternal or auxiliary lodge
||Railroad or express company where employed
Other records may be submitted if age is shown. Examples of these records are:
- marriage records and
- birth records of a child if the age of the parent is shown.
Proof of relationship must be given by each person applying for benefits as
the child, parent, brother, sister or grandchild of the former railroad
employee. If the document used to prove the age of the person also shows his/her
relationship to the employee, separate proof of relationship is not needed.
For example, if a child's proof of age shows the employee as his/her parent,
a separate proof of relationship is not necessary.
A wife or husband may qualify for benefits if he/she has the employee's child
in care. The term "child in care" means the railroad employee's dependent and
unmarried natural child, adopted child, or stepchild, or under certain
conditions a grandchild whose parents are deceased or disabled.
If you are filing as the parent of a former railroad employee, you must
submit evidence that you are the employee's natural parent, adoptive parent or
stepparent. This evidence would be a birth record for the employee from the list
given below which shows that you are named as the employee's parent. If the
employee was legally adopted, refer to the section marked "Adoption" in this
| Certified copy of the civil birth record of the person filing for benefits (showing the parents' names)
|| Bureau of Vital Statistics in
state capital of state of birth
| Certified copy of the religious birth record of the person filing for benefits (showing the parents' names)
|| Church where baptized or confirmed
| Any evidence listed in Proof of Age if it shows relationship
In the following cases, it may be necessary to submit more than one document
to prove the relationship to the employee.
- A grandchild must show who his/her parents are and prove that his/her
parent is related to the employee.
- A brother or sister of the employee must furnish his/her birth record and
the employee's, showing that they both have the same parents.
- A stepchild must show he/she is the child of the person married to the
employee. See the section for establishing proof of marriage.
- A stepparent must show that the person he/she is married to is the
employee's parent. See Part 4 for establishing proof of marriage.
When the relationship involves a legally adopted child or the parent of a
legally adopted child, submit a certified copy of the decree or order of
adoption. If the record of adoption cannot be obtained, submit one of the
- The official notice received by the adopting parents stating that the
adoption has been completed; or
- A birth certificate issued as a result of the adoption proceeding.
If you are unable to furnish any of the documents described above or if the
adoption proceedings have not been completed, contact the nearest field office of
the RRB. The people there will be glad to assist you.
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Proof of Marriage
If you are filing for monthly railroad retirement benefits or Medicare as the
wife, husband, divorced wife or husband, widow, widower, remarried widow or
widower, or surviving divorced wife or husband of a former railroad employee,
you must furnish evidence of your marriage to the employee. If you are claiming
benefits as a remarried widow or widower, you may have to furnish proof of your
remarriage. A person filing as a divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse
must submit proof that the marriage to the employee lasted at least ten
consecutive years before the date of the final divorce decree.
|The original certificate of marriage
|A copy of a public record of the marriage certified by the custodian of the record
- Clerk of the Court in the city or county where marriage license was
Bureau of Vital Statistics of the state in which you were married
| A copy of a religious record of the marriage certified by the custodian of the record
|| Church where marriage took place
NOTE: A marriage license is not an
acceptable proof of marriage. If none of the proofs listed above can be found or
if no marriage ceremony took place, contact the nearest field office of the RRB.
The people there will be glad to assist you.
Proof of Termination of a Remarriage
If you are claiming benefits as the divorced spouse and have remarried since
your divorce from the employee, you must furnish proof that the later marriage
or marriages have terminated.
If you are claiming benefits as the remarried widow/widower, or surviving
divorced spouse, you must furnish proof that the later marriage or marriages
have terminated, unless you remarried after attainment of age 60 or after
attainment of age 50 if previously eligible for a disabled widow(er)'s or
surviving divorced spouses annuity before the marriage occurred.
Refer to Chapter 5 for a discussion of acceptable proofs of divorce or
annulment and Chapter 7 for a discussion of acceptable proofs of death.
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Proof of Divorce
Proof of divorce is required when benefits are claimed as the divorced wife
or husband or the surviving divorced spouse of a former railroad employee. A
person filing as a divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse must prove that
the divorce took place after at least ten consecutive years of marriage to the
employee. A divorced spouse or surviving divorced spouse claiming exemption from
the public service pension offset based on entitlement as a divorced wife under
social security eligibility requirements in effect in January 1977 must prove
that the divorce took place after at least 20 consecutive years of marriage to
the employee. See Chapter 4 for circumstances when the later marriage does not
have to be terminated.
|The original decree of final or absolute divorce or divorce a vinculo matrimonii
|A copy of the divorce certified by the custodian of the record
- Clerk of the Court in the city or county where
the divorce was obtained; or
Bureau of Vital Statistics
of the state in which you were divorced
| A certified photocopy of one of the documents shown above
If you are unable to obtain any of the documents listed above or if the
decree is not for a final, absolute or divorce a vinculo matrimonii, contact the
nearest field office of the RRB. The people there will be glad to assist you.
Chapter 4 of this booklet describes when it is necessary to file proof of
termination of a remarriage. When a marriage or remarriage ends with an
annulment, submit a certified copy of the decree of annulment.
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Proof of Military Service
In some cases, credit may be given for the former railroad employee's
military service. If credit for military service is claimed, proof must be
furnished. Both the beginning date and the ending date of the military service
must be proven.
|Original certificate of discharge or release to inactive duty from a branch of the Armed Forces that shows the beginning and ending date of the active military service
|Copy of a certificate made by the State, county or municipal agency or department in which the original record was recorded
||County Recorder or County Clerk for county of residence when discharged
| Certification from a branch of the Armed Forces that shows the beginning and ending dates of employee's military service
National Personnel Records Center
(Military Personnel Records)
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5100
If the employee was discharged from the Army during 1912 - 1959 or the Air Force during 1947 - 1963, see the "Other Proofs of Military Service" section.
| A certified
photocopy of one of the documents shown above
Other Proofs of Military Service
Some military service records stored in the Personnel Records Center in St.
Louis were damaged by a fire in 1973. The military service records were involved
in the fire if the former railroad employee was either:
- Discharged from the Army during the years from 1912 to 1959, or
- Discharged from the Air Force during the period from September 1947 through
December 1963 and the last name comes after Hubbard in the alphabet.
If your military service records were destroyed either in the fire in the
National Records Center at St. Louis in 1973, or in some other way, you may
request a new military service record with
Form SF-180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. This form is available
from the RRB or your branch of service. If no other record can be obtained, a
written statement of military service from one of the agencies listed below can
be used as proof of military service. Only request information from an agency if
the condition in the "If" column applies to the employee.
|The employee ever filed a claim for unemployment compensation based upon the military service
||State unemployment compensation office
|The employee was paid a bonus
||State Bonus Office
| The employee retired from Federal employment
|| Office of Personnel Management
Bureau of Retirement and Insurance
Employee Service and Records Center
Boyers, PA 16017
| The employee ever furnished the military service record to an employer
|| Federal, State, local or private employer to whom a record of military service was furnished
| The employee ever filed a claim for Veteran's benefits of any kind
|| Nearest Veteran's Affairs Regional Office
| The employee ever performed any service in the National Guard
|| State Adjutant General
| The employee ever filed a claim for Social Security Act benefits and the military service involved was after September 6, 1939.
|| Social Security Administration
If you are unable to locate any of the documents listed above, contact the nearest field office of the RRB. The people there will be glad to assist you.
Proof of Death
Proof of the death of a former railroad employee is required with all claims
for survivor benefits.
Death occurred inside the United States
|Certified copy of the public record of death (Death Certificate)
|| Bureau of Vital Statistics or Department of Health for city, county or State
|Coroner's report of death
||Coroner or medical examiner
| Verdict of the coroner's jury of the State or community where death occurred.
|| Coroner or medical examiner
| A signed statement of death by funeral director on an acceptable RRB or SSA
NOTE: This is not an acceptable proof of death if the applicant is a funeral director or a representative of a funeral home
- RRB Form G-273a Statement of Burial Expenses or
- SSA Form SSA-721 Statement of Death by Funeral Director or
- SSA-2872 Statement of Death by Funeral
| Funeral home
| A certified photocopy of any of the documents described above
Death occurred outside the United States
|A report of death by a United States consul, or other agent of the State Department, bearing the signature and official seal
||United States consulate or embassy
|A certified copy of the public record of death (Death Certificate)
|| Bureau of Vital Statistics
or Department of Health
| A signed statement of death by a funeral director
|| Funeral home
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Proof of Payment of Burial Expenses
To prove the payment of all or any part of the burial expenses, you must
either submit Railroad Retirement Board Form G-273a or an itemized, receipted
statement or bill from the funeral director and other persons furnishing goods
or services. The receipt must identify the deceased person, be signed by the
funeral director or other person to whom payment was made and give all of the
- Total amount of all burial expenses
- Name of each person who paid toward the burial expenses
- Amount and date of each payment
- Amount of unpaid burial expenses
If more than one funeral home is involved, proof of payment of burial
expenses must be furnished by each one. If Form G-273a cannot be completed or an
itemized bill cannot be given, contact the nearest field office of the RRB.
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Proof of Appointment as Legal Representative
Evidence of appointment as legal representative is required of anyone filing
an application for benefits in this official capacity. A legal representative
can be the guardian, trustee, committee or conservator of an individual or the
administrator or executor of an estate.
Proof of Court Appointment
- Certified copy of letters of appointment
- "Short" certificate
- Certified copy of the order of appointment
- Any official document issued by the clerk or other proper official of the
The document submitted must bear the court seal or the
signature of the court clerk. If the court papers of appointment were made more
than one year before the application is filed, the certification must show that
they are still in full force and effect.
If you are unable to furnish any of the documents listed or if you have not
been appointed by the court, contact the nearest field office of the RRB. The
people there will be glad to assist you.
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Citizenship and Residence
Citizenship is a material factor in applying tax provisions. Generally, RRB
accepts a claim that an individual is a citizen of the country of birth unless
there is information or evidence to the contrary.
Conclusive Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
Any of the following documents is generally conclusive evidence of U.S.
citizenship for the person to whom the document is issued regardless of where
the person was born.
- Birth certificate showing birth in the U.S.
- U.S. passport
- Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization
- Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States (Form FS-240).
- Certificate of Birth (Form FS-545)
- United States Citizen Identification Card (INS Form I-197)
Evidence of Citizenship in Other Countries
Documents similar to those listed above may be submitted as evidence to prove
citizenship in another country, such as:
- Birth certificate showing birth in that country
- Passport issued by the country
- Certificates of citizenship, naturalization, or citizen identification cards
issued by the country.
U.S. citizens or residents should complete Form RRB-1001, "Non-resident
Questionnaire," on leaving the United States to take up permanent or temporary
residence in a foreign country. The Internal Revenue Service requires that
residents of tax-treaty countries claim their exemption every three years by
completing an RRB-1001. The form may be secured from RRB field offices or
requested by mail from the:
Bureau of Taxation
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092
Proof of residence is required when an individual claims residence on the
RRB-1001 in a country that is not the country in the mailing address. Acceptable
proofs of residence must be valid for the period of time for which residence is
to be verified; the date of issuance must be within one year of the period of
residence to be established. Acceptable proofs of residence are:
In the United States
- A Valid Alien Registration Receipt Card ("Green Card"), Form I-151 or I-551.
- Reentry Permit (Form I-132). Whether first-issued or renewed, the permit is valid for one year.
- U.S. Federal income tax return for the most recent tax year (this may be a
photocopy and need not be certified by IRS).
- Refugee travel document issued by the United States.
- Application to Retain U.S. Residence (INS Form N-470). A photocopy is
- Notice of Approval of Application to Preserve Residence (INS Form N-472).
- Proof of filing a declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen under
- Other evidence showing the individual has a current attachment to the U.S.,
and intends to return to make the U.S. his/her home.
In Other Countries
Acceptable Proofs of Residence are:
- Identification or voter's registration card issued by the government of the
- Record or current eligibility for government health or welfare programs.
- Tax record for the prior year.
- Current passport.
- Recent bill for public utilities.
- Library card with an address in the country