TN 43 (12-17)

GN 00301.095 Social Security Administration Certification of Photocopies

A. Policy for the Social Security Administration (SSA’s) certification of photocopies

When SSA retains a photocopy of the claimant's evidentiary document, the SSA certifier who evaluated the document must certify to the accuracy of SSA's copy and the authenticity of the claimant's document.

This certification is not a routine clerical function. The document submitted by the claimant is the document that the SSA certifier must evaluate for authenticity. The certification statement and signature of the SSA certifier on the photocopy attests to the authenticity of the claimant's document and affects the probative value of the photocopy.

EXCEPTION: When SSA receives a foreign claim or foreign post-entitlement action and the photocopy of evidence has the U.S. State Department (DOS) certification statement, accept the evidence if the DOS seal is affixed and there is no reason to question its authenticity.

B. Procedure for certifying documents

1. Photocopy of claimant's document

Follow this procedure when we retain a photocopy of the claimant's document for SSA's file:

  1. Write in ink, type, or rubber stamp the certification statement. Include your signature, title, and date of certification.

  2. State whether the claimant's document appears genuine, authentic, unaltered (free of erasures and overwriting), and made at the time claimed based on issuance rather than recordation.

  3. Describe any irregularities on the claimant's document such as changes or alterations to the entries, see GN 00301.050C.

    NOTE: If appropriate, indicate whether the custodian made changes prior to the custodian's certification.

  4. In the case of a multipage photocopy, indicate the number of pages involved. A suggested statement is as follows:

    “The original document, of which this is a photocopy, appears to be genuine, and unaltered, and to have been made at the time purported. This photocopy consists of ## pages.”

2. Photocopies of SSA forms

Photocopies of SSA forms completed by SSA personnel and maintained in SSA's control do not require certification. However, photocopies of SSA forms completed by someone outside the Agency require certification (e.g., Form SSA-721 (Statement of Death and Burial Expenses by Funeral Director)).

3. Photocopies of foreign language documents

An authorized certifier, who is not an authorized translator in the foreign language involved, is fully qualified to evaluate whether the foreign language document appears genuine and unaltered. They may also certify:

  • the document is the implied age based on its general appearance or by remarks made by the person submitting it, and

  • the issue date, or

  • how and when the document was secured.

4. Photocopy has incomplete certification

If the photocopy bears an SSA stamp, but it does not indicate the number of pages in a multipage photocopy:

  • assume the claimant's document was properly evaluated by the certifier; and

  • take adjudicative action.

If the photocopy does not contain any part of the certification statement required in GN 00301.095B.1.d. in this section, request a properly certified photocopy of the original document post-adjudicatively.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200301095
GN 00301.095 - Social Security Administration Certification of Photocopies - 12/15/2017
Batch run: 12/15/2017
Rev:12/15/2017