TN 3 (04-10)

RM 10210.415 How to Prioritize Acceptable Identity Documents

Ensure that the applicant for the SSN is the person he claims to be. Examine a combination of documents to establish the applicant's identity; do not use only one document.

To view the Priority Document Lists see RM 10210.420A through RM 10210.420C.

A. Document requirements

Each document must satisfy the requirements for evidence of identity. For the requirements refer to the following sections:

  • RM 10210.405C, What are the rules for evidence of identity

  • RM 10210.410A, What information is required on an identity document?

  • RM 10210.410E, How do you evaluate a document as evidence of identity?

  • RM 10210.200, General Information on Reviewing and Verifying Evidence for a SSN Card.

All State driver’s licenses and State identification cards are acceptable if they meet certain visual standards. For information on visual standards see:

B. How do You Use the Priority Lists?

Accept evidence of identity from the applicant according to the following guidelines:

1. Age range

Find the list for the age range of the applicant.

2. Citizen or alien

Determine if the applicant is a citizen or alien. Within each age range, documents in the left-hand column are for U.S. citizens, documents in the right hand column are for aliens.

3. Probative value

Under citizen and alien, the documents are listed in two groups based on their relative probative value: primary evidence and secondary evidence.

  • Primary evidence documents for a given age range have the highest probative value.

  • Secondary evidence documents have lower probative value.

NOTE: Documents within the same evidence level for the same citizenship status and age range have the same probative value. For example, all documents listed as secondary evidence documents for aliens age 18 and older have the same probative value.

4. Submitting document with highest probative value

An applicant must submit the document with the highest probative value when it is available. Temporary documents such as temporary driver’s licenses that have been found to be acceptable by your RO are third level documents. Before accepting a third level document ask the applicant to if another document of higher probative value from the list in RM 10210.420, List of Documents in Priority of Acceptability for Use as Evidence of Identity is available.

“Available” means the document exists and the applicant can access or obtain it within 10 business days.

NOTE: Documents are considered available when the:

  • document is expired or lost; AND

  • applicant states he/she needs to renew or replace it; AND

  • interviewer knows or is made aware that it could be easily renewed or replaced within 10 business days.

IMPORTANT: If an applicant states after being questioned that he/she has a document available that is higher in probative value than the document that he/she submitted with the application, you must tell the applicant to get the document of higher probative value. There are no tolerances based on the ease of availability of the lower probative value document.

EXAMPLE 1: A U.S. citizen applicant age 27 presents an employer identification card (secondary evidence) at the interview for a replacement card, but indicates that he/she left a valid State-issued driver's license (primary evidence) at home. Advise the applicant that he/she must submit the driver's license. To provide the best public service in this situation, give the applicant a fact sheet which describes the evidence requirements under IRTPA.

EXAMPLE 2: A U.S. citizen applicant age 67 applies for a replacement card. She presents a medical record from her most recent annual checkup (secondary evidence) from her neighborhood clinic that contains her name and date of birth to compare to the Numident and the information given in the Enumeration System. When asked about the availability of a State-issued driver's license, ID card, or U.S. Passport/Passport card (primary evidence), the applicant says she does not have any of these documents. She no longer has a car and does not drive anymore but uses public transportation. She says she has never needed or had a State ID card or U.S. Passport/Passport card. She adds that even if she wanted to drive or travel, she lives on a limited income and cannot afford this luxury. Since the applicant

  • is on limited income,

  • has not recently had a State-issued driver’s license, State ID card or a U.S. Passport that needs replacing, and

  • has no other need for a State-issued driver’s license, State ID card or a U.S. Passport

the interviewer should accept the medical record and process the application. In this case primary evidence would not be considered “easily” renewable or replaceable.

When a document is listed as acceptable on the National Identity Document Database , supervisory approval is not needed. However, the interviewer must read the evidence description of the third level identity document to insure that there are no limitations listed for the acceptance of the document and have the supervisor or equivalent provide the second sign-off.

5. When a FO Employee must Consult with a Supervisor, RO or CO and the Use of the National Identity Document Database (NIDD)

All identity documents listed as primary or secondary evidence of identity according to the priority lists in RM 10210.420 are listed in the Enumeration System. If an identity document is submitted by an applicant that does not appear on the drop down menu in the Enumeration System and the applicant does not have a document of higher probative value review the NIDD to see if the submitted identity document is listed as an acceptable or unacceptable document.

a. Identity document listed as acceptable in NIDD

If the document is listed as acceptable in the NIDD, read the document physical description and justification to ensure that you have the correct document and that there are no limitations to using the document. If there are limitations, the document may be used to the extent of the limitations. Select RO CPS Int. from the drop down in Enumeration System and follow the instructions in RM 10210.170.

b. Identity document listed as unacceptable in NIDD

If the document is listed as unacceptable in the NIDD, do not use the document. Ask the applicant to submit another document, if applicant refuses or does not have another identity document follow the instructions in RM 10215.110, Policy on Providing Written Notice and Second Review When SSN or Card Cannot Be Issued.

c. Identity document not listed in NIDD

If the document is not listed in the NIDD follow the RO CPS Int instructions in RM 10210.170 and select RO CPS Int from the drop down menu in the Enumeration System. Consult with your Supervisor to see if other documents in the applicant’s possession are acceptable. Your supervisor will consult with the RO staff concerning other available evidence of identity and whether the identity document submitted can be accepted. The RO may consult with Central Office (CO) staff in the Office of Income Security Programs to resolve the issue. In certain circumstances, a document not on the lists may be acceptable with supervisory approval and RO concurrence. If a document that meets the criteria in RM 10210.405C (What are the General Rules for Evidence of Identity), RM 10210.410B (Biographical Information), RM 10210.410E (evaluating a document as evidence of identity), as well as RM 10210.200 (verifying SSN evidence); however, is not either primary or secondary evidence of identity is approved as acceptable by a supervisor and sent to the RO for concurrence, the RO may decide to add the document to the NIDD http://nynet.ny.ssa.gov/identitydocument/ .

For a list of documents that are generally not acceptable as evidence of identity except in certain situations see RM 10210.430A.3.

C. What to do in Special Situations

1. If the SSN application is Received by Mail

When an SSN application is received by mail without a primary evidence document take the following actions:

  • Contact the claimant to find out if a document is available that is higher in probative value than the document submitted. Refer to lists in RM 10210.420.

  • If the applicant is an adult age 18 or older, request a driver’s license or State-issued identity card for non-drivers.

  • If the applicant alleges not to have an available identity document with a higher probative value than the one submitted, explain that SSA is required by law (IRPTA) to request the document with the higher probative value.

  • If the applicant alleges that he/she does not have an available ID document with a higher probative value than the one submitted, continue processing the application.

  • Follow the procedures in RM 10205.090, SSN application Received – Additional Development Required, RM 10215.110 Policy on Providing Written Notice and Second Review When SSN or Card May Not Be Issued, and RM 00299.020 Form SSA-L676 – Refusal to Process SSN Application.

2. If the Alien Applicant is a Refugee, Parolee, Asylee, or Victim of a Severe Form of Trafficking (VSFT)

When an alien applicant is refugee, parolee, asylees, or a VSFT use the lawful alien document as evidence of:

  • identity,

  • evidence of lawful alien status and,

  • age.

For more information on the number of documents required for an SSN, see RM 10210.020.

3. If a Proper Applicant is filing for someone else

When a proper applicant files for the SSN on behalf of someone else follow these instructions:

  • RM 10210.420A through RM 10210.420C, List of Documents in Priority of Acceptability for Use as Evidence of Identity

  • RM 10210.420D, Additional Documents that Can be Used as Evidence for a Proper Applicant


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0110210415
RM 10210.415 - How to Prioritize Acceptable Identity Documents - 10/05/2011
Batch run: 10/06/2011
Rev:10/05/2011