GN 00302.170 How to Resolve Material DB Discrepancies

A. General

To determine the DB in any discrepancy case, consider the value of each record using the guidelines in GN 00302.165.

Only after looking at the total proof-of-age picture can you make an accurate determination. The corroboration of certain documents of high probative value or a particular pattern of consistency might become important in determining which documents support the correct DB.

  • NOTE: As a rule, when the DB is not based on preferred evidence, at least two documents are required to serve as a basis for a DB determination, one of which must be the NUMIDENT where such record exists.

B. Procedure

Use the following procedure to resolve a material discrepancy when preferred evidence of age is nonexistent (see GN 00302.057 for determining availability of preferred evidence).

1Examine the evidence of age on file and ask the claimant to obtain the evidence considered best according to the guidelines in GN 00302.165.
2Does the evidence in file clearly establish the DB?
 • If yes, go to step 4.
 • If no, go to step 3.
3Discuss with the claimant the basis for his/her belief as to the proper DB and record this information in file using:
 • SSA-5002, or
 • SSA-795, or
 • SSA-553, or
 • SSA-2038 F3, or
 • “Remarks” portion of the application form.
4Write a determination establishing the DB supported by the best evidence obtainable.
5Did you determine that the earliest recorded evidence was the best evidence?
 • If yes, stop.
 • If no, go to step 6.


Document the following if you decide that evidence which is not the oldest is the best:

  • Your reasoning as to why the evidence in file is sufficient to establish the DB, and

  • Why other evidence normally recorded earlier in life either does not exist or would not change the determination if it were obtained.


C. Important

Ordinarily you will request the record likely to be highest in probative value (i.e., best evidence) according to the guidelines in GN 00302.165. However, if the delay and/or expense to obtain such evidence would be excessive and, based on the probative value of the evidence already presented, it is not clear that the evidence you are considering requesting is best or would affect the DB determination if it were obtained, then it need not be requested.

D. Other considerations

Because the age of a record is an important criterion in determining the probative value of a document, the best evidence will usually be evidence which was recorded very early in life. Determining the probative value of a document requires the exercise of care and judgment, especially when evaluating contemporaneous documents.

The fact that one record may be a few years older than another does not automatically give the former a higher probative value. You must ascertain which is more likely to reflect the correct age by considering such things as:

  • Who gave the information for the records

  • How important it was to have an exact age

  • How complete is the age information

  • The claimant's certainty that one document shows the correct DB, and the reason for this belief.

E. Example

The claimant submits the following evidence of age:

  • 1920 census record showing 3 5/12 years

  • School record established September 1925 showing a DB of 6/3/17.

  • NUMIDENT indicating SS-5 established in 1938 showing 6/3/17.

The claimant states that her mother enrolled her in school. The census record shows that she was listed in her grandfather's household, which corresponds to her faint recollection that she lived with relatives in her early years, returning to live with her mother later.

You can make a reasonable assumption that the mother was not in the household at the time the claimant was enumerated, thus making it more likely that the informant gave the census taker the wrong age. This, and the fact that the claimant's mother probably gave the DB for the school record would ordinarily lead to a DB finding of 6/3/17.

F. Discussion with claimant

The procedure calls for a discussion with the claimant of the basis for his/ her belief as to the correct DB in some instances. In this discussion, consider questions such as these:

  • How do you know you were born on that date?

  • Have you always used that date?

  • Do you remember how old you were when the great stock market crash occurred; one of the Presidents was elected; a local fire, hurricane, or earthquake occurred; etc.?

  • Do you remember how old you were when a specific event in your life occurred (e.g., a birth, marriage, or death of a relative; completion of schooling; etc.)?

  • Do you have a record of one of the specific events mentioned above?

  • Do you know the age difference between you and your siblings?

  • Is there any evidence of your siblings' DB's? (They may be RSI beneficiaries.)

    • NOTE: In considering how extensive an interview to conduct and whether to obtain corroborating documentation of the claimant's statement, consider how important the basis of the claimant's belief might become in establishing the DB. It will be important when his/her belief is firmly held and well-founded, and the totality of evidence in file after completed development does not clearly establish one DB over another.

      Do not contact the claimant solely to conduct this interview if the evidence establishes the claimant's DB and the statement can have no bearing on the determination.

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GN 00302.170 - How to Resolve Material DB Discrepancies - 10/06/1994
Batch run: 01/27/2009