The general principle that “oldest is best” is only one consideration in evaluating documents (see GN 00302.165). In material discrepancy situations (where the discrepancy cannot be ignored per
GN 00302.180), census records have been shown to have similar inaccuracy rates to many other documents,
Thus, it is not appropriate to always request a census record and base the DB determination on it.
Based on the interview with the claimant concerning what evidence may be available
(see GN 00302.170F.), decide whether other records of equal or greater probative are more readily available
and/or less costly to obtain. Given the substantial delay that may be involved in
obtaining a census record, you may wish to forgo obtaining it and instead pursue other
However, if the census record appears to be the best evidence obtainable, or it would
influence the DB determination in some manner, request it.