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How does she prove her identity?
Old 01-10-2008, 09:59 PM   #1
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How does she prove her identity?

Here is a crazy situation for you! (long)

My MIL is legally not who she says she is and this is why.

Here birth certificate has a first name on it that is close to hers but not hers. I'm not going to use her real name but the difference is like the difference between Sharon and Shania. Pretty close but not the same names. The birth certificate was hand-written in the early 1910's and apparently whoever filled it out did not hear the correct name and put in a more standard name than my MIL's slightly odd change of a typical name. I know of no one else with her name.

Even if I ignore the first name issue, the birth certificate has her maiden name on it so I must show traceability from her maiden name to her current last name. The first change to her last name was due to her marriage to my husband's father. She knows in what county she got married but supposedly you need the date to get the marriage certificate. She can't remember what date she got married. She also got divorced but he filed and she has no paperwork (many, many years ago).

Years after her divorce, she starts living with another man. She refuses to get married (once was enough) but she starts using his last name. She has been using this last name for at least 35 years. There are no legal documents showing how she got from married name to current last name because she just decided to do it on her own.

She retired with a pension from an eastern state under her current name. She also started taking SS 28 years ago using her current name. Back in the old days, no one asked you to officially document who you were. I can't believe Social Security just took her word for it!

As it turns out, her state pension has had the wrong birthday (wrong day of the month only, off by 4 days) in their system for at least the last 28 years. We were trying to use the automated system to check on the status of a health claim and we couldn't get in because we were trying to input her real birthday. The state asked for documentation to prove her correct birthday to change it.

Bottom line, there is no legal documentation showing how she got to be who she is and the problem starts with her birth certificate from over 90 years ago! She has no property so we are not worried about any type of transfers upon her death but it's a little scary that her pension and health insurance don't have the correct information and haven't for the last 28 years. I wouldn't want anything to go wrong with payment of a future claim, especially if it was a big one.

We aren't sure what to do, if anything. We really want to get the pension and healthcare info corrected but the state is rightfully asking for the proper documentation...which does not exist.
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:12 PM   #2
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Sounds like my grandfather! Wrong name, wrong birthday. No wonder my last name is very uncommon, someone made it up at Ellis Island.

I wouldn't worry about any of it. It seems like things have been going fine and odds are they will continue to go fine.
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Old 01-10-2008, 10:27 PM   #3
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Everything has been okay and probably will continue to be okay but the lady I talked to at the state pension office (who was very nice and very helpful) put a little fear in me when she said, "this could be a problem someday" and then brought up that a major medical claim could get tied up.

MIL goes into a panic if bills aren't paid on time. She watches what the insurance is getting charged and she switched back to a previous doctor because the new doctor was "charging too much." Everything is paid by insurance but she's watching out for them. The gals at the assisted living facility compare their charges for the same doctor and it seemed like she was getting upcharged because she had better insurance.
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Old 01-11-2008, 01:05 AM   #4
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Everything has been okay and probably will continue to be okay but the lady I talked to at the state pension office (who was very nice and very helpful) put a little fear in me when she said, "this could be a problem someday" and then brought up that a major medical claim could get tied up.
I don't know why. And why would a clerk at the "pension office" know abything about what medical insurance would pay, or not? I think that clerk was just tossing off a very ill-informed opinion---perhaps in the spirit of trying to be helpful, but ill-informed nonetheless.

If medical insurance has been paying all along so far (your post seemed to indicate such), I doubt anything would change in that respect just because the medical claims got bigger.

Martha is right. If things have proceeded ok the last 28 years (including actually getting the pension and getting SS), seems pointless to start worrying now. Relax.
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Old 01-11-2008, 01:23 AM   #5
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I'm no lawyer, so this is not legal advice, but I'll pass along this case study. My father (born in the 1920's) wanted to hide from the State because his mother and siblings were institutionalized (he was an orphan) and he was afraid the State would expect him to pay. So when he enlisted for WWII he changed his last name by one letter, and changed his first name to his father's. When I say "changed", I mean he just wrote the new name on his enlistment papers. He kept that name the rest of his life, got a federal pension and Soc Sec, no problem.
He said no one checked up on those things back then.
I don't know at what point he got his Social Security number assigned - I would guess when he made up his new name. He died and I never thought to ask him, because it didn't matter.
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Old 01-11-2008, 05:46 PM   #6
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My wife & I needed birth certificates for passports, so we went to the county courthouse and got certified copies. My wife's said she was a male and had her birthday listed 4 days after her actual birthday. My wife told the clerk to change the birth certificate, but the clerk demanded proof (birthdate, not gender) before changing it. My MIL still had the hospital bill that showed the correct date, so we brought the bill to the courthouse and they issued a corrected birth certificate.

Maybe you can find some old records and get the issue corrected.
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Old 01-11-2008, 07:35 PM   #7
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When I was in the Air Force a fellow pilot wanted to change his name to his nickname. We went before a judge, the judge ask several question such as are you wanted, avoiding debts and such. Then he changed his name. So in his case there is a court document saying who he is.
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Old 01-11-2008, 07:47 PM   #8
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She is in her 90's, things have gone well so far - don't worry. No one has great records from then - different world.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:25 PM   #9
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She is in her 90's, things have gone well so far - don't worry. No one has great records from then - different world.

Unless you take her on an airline. The TSAs will have her handcuffed and spreadeagled up against the wall just like that. For the children. 9-11.
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:12 AM   #10
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Hmm, my real name (birth cert) and the name on my SS account are not the same, off by one letter. I went to a SS office and showed them the discrepancy, they laughed and told me that I should change it, "some day, no hurry". That was 20 years ago. I suspect the change would cause more problems than leaving things as they are, I'm not going to change anything...

If the going gets weird, the weird will get going and I'll hire a lawyer.
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Old 09-01-2008, 04:28 PM   #11
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The bureau of motor vehicles didn't look too close at her birth certificate so my 94-year old MIL got her ID card issued with a name different than the one on her birth certificate.

She enjoyed here flight home to Baltimore and her visit with her SIL. We told here we would take care of everthing but she pictured herself walking through a giant airport on her own. She was tickled when she realized she was going to be wheeled from the car to the airplane and then from the airplane to the car at her destination. She doesn't normally use a wheelchair or a walker but the thought of walking through a big airport had her a little flustered.

She was a little bummed so much had changed "back home" since she left 8 years ago.

Old post cleanup!
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Old 09-01-2008, 04:29 PM   #12
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All right!
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