BASIC (09-87)

GN 00302.440 Overturning Preferred Evidence Documents

A. Introduction

Normally, preferred evidence of age (see GN 00302.052) is conclusive proof of a claimant's DB, regardless of whether other documents are presented showing a different DB. Studies have shown preferred evidence to have an accuracy rate of about 99.5 percent.

However, there are extremely rare situations where the claimant alleges a different DB than that shown on preferred evidence and presents a significant amount of evidence with high probative value supporting the alleged DB. In such a situation, a preferred evidence document can be overturned (i.e., the DB shown on the preferred evidence would not be used by SSA).

B. Policy

The mere fact that the claimant's allegation disagrees with the preferred evidence does not necessitate development to overturn the preferred evidence. Give the claimant the opportunity to present evidence to support the alleged DB. However, unless he/she presents other evidence early in the claims development process that strongly supports the alleged DB, use the DB shown on the preferred evidence without further delay. The adjudicator must judge whether additional development is appropriate based on the claimant's reasons for believing the preferred evidence is inaccurate, and based on the evidence presented to date.

These instructions are not meant to encourage adjudicators to routinely question the accuracy of preferred evidence. They are intended only to provide guidelines for those highly unusual situations where a preferred evidence document appears suspect.

NOTE: For postentitlement cases in which no DB proof code is on the record, review GN 00302.010C to determine whether the individual already established his or her DB for SSA purposes. To determine whether you may correct an MBR or Numident DB, whether based on preferred or secondary evidence of age, follow the instructions, The Effect of a Revised Date of Birth More Than 4 Years after Initial Determination, in GN 04030.010. For instructions about an SSI applicant who has established a DB for title II purposes that makes him or her ineligible for SSI, review Proof of Age Requirements for Supplemental Security Income in GN 00302.290. For instructions about reopening and revising a title XVI determination or decision, see SI 04070.000 Administrative Finality – SSI.

C. Evaluation guidelines

Follow these guidelines to determine whether a preferred evidence document can be overturned:

  • The evidence supporting a different DB must be of extremely high probative value (i.e., usually at least one record established before the claimant was age 18 and several before he/she became age 40), and

  • The claimant must submit a minimum of three documents showing a consistent DB, and

  • All documents of high probative value (except the preferred evidence) must support the same DB, and

  • You must use judgment in evaluating the evidence presented (although many documents may be presented which disagree with the preferred evidence, no record is more likely to be accurate than preferred evidence documents).

D. When preferred evidence cannot be overturned

The DB on a preferred evidence document can not be overturned if:

  • The allegation agrees with the preferred evidence, or

  • Another preferred evidence document is available and it shows the same DB, or

  • Any other evidence of high probative value supports the DB shown on the preferred evidence, or

  • More than 2 DB's are shown for the claimant on various documents.

E. Note

If more than one preferred evidence document is presented and these documents disagree, develop the additional evidence to resolve the discrepancy. A DB determination is required.

F. Procedure

Follow this procedure, keeping in mind the policy and evaluation guidelines above.



Ask the claimant to present evidence of extremely high probative value which supports the alleged DB.


Did the claimant present such evidence early in the claims development process?

  • If yes, go to step 3

  • If no, go to step 7.


Where feasible, contact the custodian of the preferred evidence document to determine whether an error may have been made in trans