TN 9 (02-85)

GN 00302.510 Corrected Birth Certificates (BC)

A. Introduction

Occasionally, an individual (or his/her parent(s)) may ask the vital statistics office in the place of his/her birth to “correct” one or more items on the individual's BC. Depending on the circumstances (e.g., which items were corrected, how long ago, what evidence was used to support the correction), the probative value of the BC may be affected. Therefore, it is important to be able to detect that the BC presented has been corrected and to evaluate the effect the corrections have on SSA's use of the record.

B. How to recognize corrected BC's

Examine BC's for one of the following features commonly used by registrars to indicate corrected records:

  • Incorrect entry is lined through and the change is typed or written in (sometimes along with the date of the change)

  • Explanation of the corrected item(s) is attached or entered on the document itself (often on the reverse), or

  • Document is marked “Corrected,” “Altered,” or some similar notation.

C. Specific State practices

In addition, several States have (or once had) different methods of highlighting corrected entries.

These are:

StateHow Correction Shown
  

Iowa

The BVS makes corrections to BC's by:

  • Lining through the incorrect item, and

  • Entering the change in type or by hand, and

  • Stamping the BC “Corrected” or “Amended”, and

  • Dating the correction.

    NOTE: Entries on BC's which are faded are overwritten by the BVS prior to microfilming. These overwritten records are not corrected BC's and should not be questioned. Photocopies of these BC's are acceptable if they contain a raised seal, indicating the document's authenticity and accuracy.

  
  

Michigan

Since 10/78, corrections are being made on the original record with:

  • An asterisk next to the amended item, and

  • An annotation in the heading that reads, “amended (month)/ (year).”

  
  

Missouri

  • Corrected records will contain the remark, “Altered Section 193.210 RSMO 1979.”

  • Changed items are not identified on the certificate.

  • No explanation of the change is shown.

    NOTE: The custodian provides an uncertified copy of an affidavit which provides the information, unless the records are sealed (in which case, only the basis for the change is given).

  
WashingtonBeginning 1981, the letter “C” is shown in the right-hand corner of the record.
  

D. Evaluation of corrected BC's — overview

Once it is established that the BC presented was corrected, evaluate it by:

  • Identifying which items were corrected, and

  • Determining the basis for the corrections, and

  • Assessing the accuracy of the correction, and

  • Appraising the probative value of the BC.

E. Immaterial changes

Do not investigate the accuracy of, or reasons for, changes to immaterial items (e.g., city of birth). If the correction does not concern the DB, is obvious and easily explainable, and does not raise doubt as to whether the document pertains to the claimant, it may be considered immaterial.

In such cases, treat the BC as if the correction had been made at the time the original record was recorded, and ignore the fact that the original record was altered.

F. Name changes

If, at any stage of development, it is clear that the name of the claimant is the only corrected item, refer to GN 00302.460 instead of the procedures below. Thus, if the BC indicates on its face, or a subsequent contact with the custodian reveals, that the claimant's name was the only corrected item, follow GN 00302.460 to resolve the name discrepancy.

G. Obtaining information about corrections

Where a BC is presented which is clearly a corrected record but which:

  • Does not identify which items were changed, or

  • Does not explain the basis for a material change

Do the following:

StepAction
1Contact the custodian to determine which items were changed and the basis for the changes.
 
  • EXCEPTION: If prior contact with the same custodian has shown that no record of corrections is maintained, do not contact the custodian. Also, see NOTE in H. below.

  
2Was information on changes obtained from the custodian?
 • If yes, go to step 7.
 • If no, go to step 3.
  
3Document the file that no information was available from the custodian.
  
4Obtain an explanation from the claimant stating:
 • Which items were corrected, and
 • When the changes were made, and
 • What evidence was provided to correct the BC.
  
  

5

Was the claimant able to provide the information requested in step 4?

 • If yes, go to step 7.
 • If no, go to step 6.
  
6• Consider the accuracy of the correction to be questionable.
 • Follow M. below.
  
7Follow I. below.
  

H. Note: custodians which will not respond to requests for correction information

Some custodians are known to be unable to respond to SSA's requests for information about the basis for corrections. These custodians include the following (assume the listing pertains only to the State office unless otherwise noted):

  • Illinois

  • Kansas

  • Louisiana

  • Minnesota (State and counties)

  • Nebraska (State and counties)

  • Washington

  • Mississippi (unless a fee is provided)

Do not seek information about corrections from these offices (i.e., those listed above or others discovered to have the same practices). Instead, obtain statements from the claimant per step 4 of the chart in G. above.

I. Assessing the accuracy of the correction(s)

If the items that were corrected are material (e.g., the DB) the adjudicator must use his/her judgment to determine whether the original entry still appears to be accurate. In applying this judgment, consider the probative value of the evidence that was used as a basis for the change. Also, consider the other evidence of age, if any, already presented by the claimant. Using the principles in L. below, attempt to determine whether the correction is accurate.

J. Evidence sufficient to confirm accuracy

If, in the adjudicator's judgment, the evidence is sufficient to confirm the accuracy of the correction, then

  • Document the file to explain this decision, and

  • Follow the instructions in N. below.

K. Evidence not sufficient to confirm accuracy

If the accuracy of the correction is questionable, follow the instructions in M. below.

L. Evaluating correction(s)

In evaluating the accuracy of the correction, follow these principles:

PrincipleFurther ExplanationExample
If the correction was made many years ago, it is more likely to be accurate than if it were made recently. Therefore, more evidence and/or evidence of greater probative value is needed to verify the accuracy of a recent correction.A correction made many years ago when the claimant was in his/ her 20's (or younger) will require little supporting evidence (i.e., evidence listed on the document and/or other evidence already in file).
 
Conversely, a correction made in the last few years needs to be supported by evidence of high probative value to be assessed as an accurate change.
A claimant alleges a DB of 7/7/20. The DB shown on the BC was “corrected” in 1980 to show 7/7/20; the original entry recorded on 10/10/22, showed 7/7/22 as the DB. Absent evidence of extremely high probative value which supports 7/7/20, SSA would use 7/7/22 as the correct DB.
The older the original record, the more likely it is to be correct.—— 
   
   

If the evidence presented to the registrar (and/or the evidence in file):

  • Is of high probative value, and

  • Spans many years, and

  • Consistently supports the corrected DB

Then the correction can generally be assumed to be accurate.

Conversely, if the evidence:

  • Is inconsistent

  • Was recorded recently, and

  • Has low probative value

Then no assumption can be made regarding the accuracy of the correction.

——

   

M. Accuracy of the correction is questionable

Use the following procedure to establish the DB when you have determined that the evidence supporting the “correction” is insufficient to determine that the correction was accurate.

StepAction
1Treat the BC as originally recorded and the amended BC as separate documents
 
  • NOTE: The “corrected” record will be considered to have been established as of the date the correction was made.

  
2Was the original record established before age 5?
 • If yes, go to step 3.
 • If no, go to step 4.
  
3Treat the original record as preferred evidence and stop.
  
  

4

Resolve the material discrepancy between the original record and the amended record.

  • NOTE: Best evidence (see GN00302.160ff.) may be:

    • BC as originally recorded, or

    • BC as amended, or

    • Other evidence of age.

If a document listed on the BC as supporting evidence for the corrected entry appears to be the best evidence, obtain the document.

  
5Prepare a written DB determination.
  

N. Accuracy of the correction is confirmed

If you determine that the correction was accurate, follow this procedure to establish the DB.

StepAction
1Explain briefly on an RC why you believe the accuracy of the corrected item has been established.
  
2Treat the BC as if the original document reflected the corrected item(s).
  
3Was the original document recorded before age 5?
 • If yes, treat the BC as preferred evidence.
 • If no, go to step 4.
  
4Treat the BC as a DBC for purposes of:
 
  
5Establish the DB under normal proof-of-age rules.
  

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200302510
GN 00302.510 - Corrected Birth Certificates (BC) - 10/06/1994
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:10/06/1994