§ 440. Proof, Presumptions, and Evidence


A claimant must prove that he or she meets all the requirements for the benefits claimed. Some of the requirements are established by the Agency's earnings record for the claimant or the individual on whose account the benefits depend. This is true of proof of insured status and the earnings on which benefit amount calculations rest. However, other key requirements must be established by proof furnished by the claimant. This is true for such matters as age, death, family relationship, financial dependency or living arrangement, and most especially disability. As to each element that must be established by the claimant for entitlement to a particular type of benefits Agency regulations specify preferred evidence, but in nearly all cases alternative forms can be used. Throughout the Agency's determination and appeal process strict rules of evidence do not apply. This includes the hearing before an administrative law judge.

On some issues, notably those of family status, Social Security benefit entitlement can depend on state law or even the outcome of state legal proceedings. When state law is incorporated in this fashion the incorporation is likely to include presumptions or standards of proof which may either assist or hinder a claimant.


  • Related Sections:
    • Part 1
      § 161. Old-Age Benefits - Entitlement
      § 180. Disability Benefits - Disability Determination - In General
      § 181. Disability Benefits - Disability Determination - Procedure Employed
      § 203. Benefits Based on Family Relationship - Establishing Family Relationship
      § 300. Basic Elements of Coverage
      § 400. Steps in Presenting or Appealing a Benefit Claim
    • Part 2
      § A 500. Earnings Record - In General
      § A 510. Earnings Record - Self-Employment Income
      § A 600. Proof of Age
      § A 700. Proof of Death - In General
      § E 960. General Issues of Burden of Proof and Evidence