TN 13 (06-96)
GN 00301.015 Acceptance of Evidence
1. Acceptable evidence
Any document submitted by the claimant as proof of an entitlement factor must be:
an original document (see GN 00301.030A.1.); or
a copy of the original record certified to be accurate by the custodian of the record system (see GN 00301.030A.3.); or
NOTE: See GN 00301.030B.4. for acceptability of photocopies of W-2s and tax returns.
an extract of the original document certified to be accurate by the custodian of the record system. See GN 00301.030A.2.
NOTE: These requirements pertain to acceptability of documents themselves; the types of documents required to prove specific facts are discussed in the chapters relating to age (see GN 00302.001), marriage (see GN 00305.001), etc.
NOTE: See GN 00301.050D.1. for guidelines for evaluating souvenir certificates (SC) of age and marriage and criteria for the use of SCs as secondary evidence of marriage or as an evidentiary document of age for claims.
2. Audit trail
Each document must have an audit trail for SSA validation purposes. An audit trail exists when there is sufficient information to contact the custodian directly to verify the authenticity of the record. If sufficient information cannot be given to SSA to verify the record source, the document cannot be accepted as preferred evidence, and secondary evidence procedures apply.
3. Multiple evidence submitted
Generally, all evidence submitted will be considered when arriving at a determination. However, if preferred evidence of a fact is presented and secondary evidence is offered, accept only the preferred evidence unless the secondary evidence is conflicting and raises a substantive question regarding the issue to be determined.
1. Document review
Review the submitted evidence to determine:
Its validity, pertinency and probative value. See GN 00301.030 - GN 00301.050.
Whether sufficient audit trail information exists. Ascertain:
Issuing agency — must be custodian of record (see GN 00301.025);
Date document was issued (related to proper certifying official for that period and also to visual judgment as to apparent age of document paperstock);
Name and title of official executing document;
Official's certification by signature stamp or seal (read the seal to determine if it is a proper seal); and
Date of recordation if shown. The date information was recorded by the custodian affects probative value. See GN 00301.050C.4. and GN 00301.050E.3.
Document all evidence considered and inferences made in evaluating the evidence in the claims file. See GN 00301.285