GN 00302.440 Overturning Preferred Evidence Documents
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).
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.
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.
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 transcribing the data to the certificate presented to SSA.
Are you overturning the preferred evidence based on the above guidelines?
If yes, go to step 5.
If no, go to step 6.
Establish the DB based on the preferred evidence.
Establish the DB based on other evidence of high probative value.
G. Partial adjudication
If the claim is otherwise ready for processing and the claimant wants to take advantage of partial adjudication (see GN 01010.100), you may partially adjudicate the claim using the DB on the preferred evidence if:
There is at least one document of high probative value supporting the alleged DB;
Node of the prohibitions against overturning exist (see GN 00302.440D);
The alleged DB is earlier than the DB shown on the preferred evidence; and
Insured status exists under both DB's.
H. Evaluating foreign records
When using the evaluation guidelines above to evaluate foreign records of birth, consider any special instructions that may be provided in GN 00307.303 through GN 00307.967.
EXAMPLE: The special instructions may indicate whether a civil record is more or less likely to be accurate than a religious record (e.g., see GN 00307.572 regarding Irish records.)