TN 37 (05-23)

RM 10210.405 Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card

A. Proof of Identity Requirements

The chart in section lists the type of document and associated references for the proof of identity (POI) requirements for acceptable primary and secondary documents.

Type of Document



Primary U.S. Document

Must be

  • unexpired

  • within 10 years of issue date

  • adult or child easily identifiable by photo on document

RM 10210.405D.3. in this section

RM 10210.410B

RM 10210.410C

Secondary U.S. Document With

  • Issue Date and

  • Expiration Date

Must be

  • unexpired

  • less than 2 years old for an adult, and less than 4 years old for a child

Exception: For policy on school records and all documents, see RM 10210.420.

RM 10210.405D.3. and RM 10210.405D.5., in this section

Secondary U.S. Document With

  • Issue Date and

  • No Expiration Date

Must be

  • less than 2 years old for an adult, and less than 4 years old for a child

Exception: For policy on school records and all documents, see RM 10210.420.

Secondary U.S. Document With

  • No Picture,

  • No Issue Date, and

  • No Expiration Date

  • Not acceptable

Secondary U.S. Document With

  • Picture

  • with or without Issue Date or Expiration Date

Must be

  • unexpired, if expiration date is present, and

  • under 5 years old and applicant is identifiable by picture.

  • See RM 10210.405D.5., in this section.

NOTE: For documents that contain only one year or state that they are valid for a particular year, assume that the documents are valid only from the 1st day of that year through the last day of that year, unless there is evidence to the contrary.

EXAMPLE: A document implying validity for the year 2014 would only be valid January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. Since the document is considered expired after December 31, 2014, it cannot be considered as a POI document after that date per the requirement stated in the chart in RM 10210.405A, in this section.

IMPORTANT: Evidence documents that include a sex marker may indicate male or female (M or F) or an unspecified sex marker, such as an X. In all cases, the acceptability of the document does not depend on the sex marker shown on the document, even if it does not match the sex marker on the NUMIDENT or on other evidence documents, if provided.

B. Why does SSA require proof of identity?

SSA requires all SSN applicants to present documentary evidence of their identity to help prevent fraud and abuse by verifying that applicants are who they say they are; and:

  • to ensure that an applicant for an original SSN has not already been assigned one;

  • to establish that the person for whom the replacement card application is submitted is the same person to whom SSA originally assigned the SSN.

C. What Changes to SSA policy were brought about with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA)?

Section 7213(a)(1)(B) of Public Law 108-458, The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), required SSA to establish minimum standards for the assessment of documents or records submitted by applicants to establish eligibility for original or replacement SSN cards. These instructions apply to applications for SSN cards taken December 17, 2005 and later and to the Enumerations System screens processed December 17, 2005 and later.

1. Acceptable documents as proof of identity

The acceptability of a given document, as evidence of identity, depends on three factors:

  • the applicant’s age;

  • the applicant’s citizenship/alien status; and

  • the relative probative value of documents.


Sex is not considered a data element for establishing identity.

Evidence of identity documents are organized as primary or secondary documents. For a list of acceptable documents based on probative value, see RM 10210.420.

2. Assessing the probative value of documents

An applicant must submit an identity document with the highest probative value. If, for example, during the Field Office interview, the applicant presents a document with a lower probative value than another document that was left at home, ask the applicant to return with the document of higher probative value. To provide the best possible service to the public, give the applicant Publication No. 05-10002, Your Social Security Number and Card. For a list of acceptable documents based on probative value, see RM 10210.420.

D. What are the rules for evidence of identity?

1. Acceptability of an identity document

Evaluate the acceptability of each document on a case-by-case basis. Consider the applicant’s situation, the probative value of the document in RM 10210.420, and explore what evidence is available for the person.

2. Who must submit evidence of identity?

The following individuals must submit evidence of identity for enumeration purposes:

  • All applicants for original SSNs, different SSNs, and replacement SSN cards; and

  • All individuals who are applying on behalf of another.

NOTE: For the number of documents an applicant must submit with an application, see RM 10210.020.

3. Issuance and format of identity documents

An evidence of identity document must be:

  • issued later and for a different purpose than the birth record; and

  • a current, unexpired document to establish the individual’s continued existence.

Primary U.S. evidence documents are acceptable for up to 10 years from date of issue. For additional requirements for primary U.S. documents see RM 10210.425A.

When determining the age of a document use the latter of the document’s date of issue or date of certification.

EXCEPTION: If the birth record submitted as evidence of age was issued within the last year, the identity document should have been issued/recorded before the date the birth record was issued. This is to detect situations in which the birth record of a deceased person is used to establish a false new identity and obtain identity documents (e.g., driver’s license, medical records) in that identity.

NOTE: This EXCEPTION above does not apply if the applicant is for a child less than a year old.

4. Why a birth record is not evidence of identity

SSA does not accept a birth record as an identity document because it is not adequate evidence to show that the person is still alive.

A birth record:

  • establishes a fact of birth (i.e., that the person was born),

  • establishes the legal name at birth, and

  • is not sufficient evidence to establish identity for SSA purposes because it does not establish the person’s continued existence.

Therefore, we need evidence that shows the individual continues to exist beyond the date of birth up to the present time.

NOTE: An exception has been made for the use of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) in FOREIGN OFFICES as a secondary proof of identity document for U.S. Citizens 5 years of age and under. This exception is only for applications filed outside the United States. Domestically, the CRBA is not acceptable as a proof of identity document since it does not prove continued existence. Do not accept a CRBA as a proof of identity document in a domestic office.

5. Considering the applicant’s age

Age usually determines what proof of identity documents are available to an applicant. When the application for an SSN is for a very young child (e.g., newborn), hospital records (other than a souvenir birth certificate issued by the hospital) created at the time of birth should exist. After two weeks of age, most children see a physician routinely for shots and check-ups. In addition to these documents other medical records should exist.

A child (birth through age 17) should be able to provide an identity document issued or recorded within the past 4 years. If an evidence of identity document does not show an expiration date, the date issued must be within the last 4 years.

EXCEPTION: Certified childcare facility records, preschool records, school records, transcripts, or report cards must be from current or prior school year.

An adult (age 18 to age 69) in most cases, should be able to provide a current identity document such as an unexpired driver’s license or State-issued non-driver identity card. For documents that do not show an expiration date, the date issued should be within the last two years.

An older adult (age 70 and older) particularly one who is less active or in a nursing home, may not have a current identity document, but may have an expired driver’s license issued several years ago that may be acceptable with other evidence readily available (e.g., medical records).

An evidence of identity document that does not contain a date of issue or date of expiration is not acceptable unless it has a photo with which the applicant can be easily and properly identified by comparing the picture on the document (i.e. the photo appears taken within the past 5 years) to the applicant. If you cannot easily and properly identify the applicant, request another document from the priority lists in RM 10210.420.

6. What is preferred evidence of identity?

Whether the applicant lives inside or outside the U.S. determines the preferred evidence. Consider the following situations and examples.

a. Applicant applying at SSA office in the U.S.

The preferred evidence of identity is an identity document issued in the U.S.

EXCEPTION: U.S. Citizens living in Canada or Mexico visiting an SSA FO may use an approved Canadian or Mexican document listed in the Enumeration System as proof of identity. A non-citizen, who recently arrived in the U.S, will generally have a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) document and a foreign passport. For non-citizens lawfully in the U.S. without DHS/USCIS documents, see RM 10211.075. A proper applicant filing on behalf of someone else may use both U.S. documents and the approved “OIO DOC” (Office of International Operations Documents) documents listed in the Enumeration System as proof of identity.

b. Applicant applying outside the U.S. at the Foreign Benefits Unit (FBU)

For an applicant (either U.S. citizen or foreign national) applying at a FBU outside the U.S., a foreign issued identity document may be acceptable.

Documents evaluated and approved by the Office of Earnings and International Operations (OEIO) as acceptable evidence of identity are placed in the National Identity Document Database (NIDD) and in the Enumeration System. These documents appear in a drop down box with the header “OIO DOC”.

NOTE: Before accepting a foreign identity document, review the document description in the NIDD to determine the acceptability of the document or if there are any limitations affecting the acceptance of the document. Those foreign identity documents that have limitations may be used to the extent of the limitation. Documents with no limitations may be used without further approval.

EXAMPLE: If an applicant who resides in Germany and who is entitled to Title II benefits applies for an SSN and presents a German driver’s license as evidence of identity, the interviewer may accept the German driver’s license if :

  • it is listed in the NIDD or in the Enumeration System as an “OIO DOC” with no limitations on its use, and

  • it complies with the policy in RM 10210.210.

If the NIDD lists any limitations, the German driver’s license may only be used to the extent of the limitation(s).

When evaluating whether evidence issued outside the U.S. is reliable consult GN 00307.000.

E. Use the legal name to issue an SSN card

It is very important to issue an SSN card in an individual’s legal name. Along with the name, other data elements, such as date of birth or age, and parents’ names, help establish the applicant’s identity. For more information about names and legal names on the SSN card see RM 10212.001.

F. References

  • GN 00307.000 Reliability of a Country’s Documents

  • RM 10210.020 Policy for Number of Documents Required for an SSN Card

  • RM 10210.200 General Information on Reviewing and Verifying Evidence for an SSN Card

  • RM 10210.210 Reviewing Age, Identity, Citizenship and Lawful Alien Status Evidence for an SSN Card

  • RM 10210.405C What are the Rules for Evidence of Identity

  • RM 10210.410 How do You Examine, Evaluate and Assess Documents Submitted as Evidence of Identity

  • RM 10210.410B Biographical Information

  • RM 10210.420 List of Documents in Priority of Acceptability for use as Evidence of Identity

  • RM 10210.425 What are the Procedures for Specific Document Situations Documents

  • RM 10210.430B.2. Adding Documents to the NIDD

  • RM 10212.001 Defining the Legal Name for an SSN

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RM 10210.405 - Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card - 05/31/2023
Batch run: 01/30/2024