TN 40 (05-12)

GN 00301.045 Validity of Documents

A. Definition of valid documents

A valid document is one issued by the proper custodian of the record system in the proper format prescribed by either the law or the custodian, and bearing the necessary certification statement, signature, or seal, if applicable.

B. Policy for evaluating the validity of documents

In evaluating the validity of documents and records, use the following guidelines in this section and in GN 00301.030 and GN 00301.050.

1. Assumption of validity

Assume records are valid as follows:

a. Public or religious documents

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives the document from the claimant, assume validity if the document, photocopy, or extract

  • is certified by the custodian of the record per GN 00301.080; and

  • is not otherwise questionable.

    If SSA receives the document from the custodian, assume the document, photocopy, or extract (certified or uncertified) is valid.

b. Personnel records routinely retained only by the claimant

If SSA receives the document from the claimant, assume the document is valid.

EXAMPLES: Claimant's copy of insurance policy, bank book, or tax records.

c. Court orders and decrees

If SSA receives the document from the custodian, assume the document is valid.

References:

d. Other records from the custodian

If SSA receives the document from the custodian, assume the document is valid.

EXAMPLES: Copies of records from employers, medical sources, or financial institutions.

2. Validity cannot be assumed

To determine the reliability of a written record when we cannot assume the validity, consider the following criteria:

  1. Is the record the most reliable evidence available? If not, will the evidence permit an adjudicative decision?

  2. Was the record created at (or shortly after) the time the event took place? Is the record dated?

  3. What was the basis used to establish the record (other records, allegations, statements of witnesses?) Who created the record and for what purpose? Is the record signed?

  4. Was there any formality involved in establishing the record?

  5. Was an oath administered; an affidavit taken; were witnesses present?

  6. Was a penalty imposable for providing false information in creating the record?

  7. Is the record internally consistent?

  8. Is the record consistent with other evidence at hand?

  9. Was there any advantage gained at the time by creating the record and providing false information?

  10. Has the record been in the possession of someone who might have had reason to change it?

C. Procedure for questionable documentation

If the authenticity of a document is questionable:

  • Verify the document preadjudicatively.

  • Ask the parallel field office (FO) to examine and certify the contents of the custodian's record or obtain a properly certified copy of the record.

  • Document the claim file with the FO findings.

D. References

  • RM 10205.305 Fraudulent Documents with SSN Application

  • RM 10210.700 Reported Incidents of Fraudulent Activity

  • GN 00301.030 Acceptability of Documentary Evidence

  • GN 00301.050 Evaluating the Validity of Documents and Records


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200301045
GN 00301.045 - Validity of Documents - 05/31/2012