TN 4 (03-10)

RM 10211.600 Requests for an SSN from an Alien without Work Authorization

SSA will not assign an SSN to an alien who is illegally residing in the U.S. or currently in lawful immigration status in the U.S., but does not have Department of Homeland Security (DHS) work authorization, unless the alien has a valid nonwork reason for an SSN.

A. Evidence requirements for obtaining an SSN for nonwork purposes

Evaluate evidence for nonwork SSN applications.

1. Establish a valid nonwork reason

The only valid nonwork reasons are:

  • a Federal statute or regulation requires that the alien provide his or her SSN to get the particular benefit or service to which he or she has otherwise established entitlement; or

  • a State or local law requires the alien who is legally in the U.S. to provide his or her SSN to get public assistance benefits to which the alien has otherwise established entitlement and for which all other requirements have been met.

2. Document a nonwork SSN

To obtain an SSN for a nonwork purpose, the alien must provide:

  • evidence of age, identity, and current alien status; and

  • a letter from the appropriate government entity that explains the need for the SSN.

NOTE: If the alien resides outside the U.S. and requests an SSN at a Foreign Service Post, he or she does not need to provide evidence of alien status.

3. Evaluate evidence to establish the need for an SSN

Obtain an original letter or form letter from the government entity to document a valid nonwork reason. Most government entities use a form letter to facilitate processing the large number of requests they receive.

Administration of qualifying programs varies by state. In some states, the qualifying program is administered by a state agency, while in other states, the agency with authority over the qualifying program delegates the day-to-day program administration to county offices.
NOTE: Verify any questionable letters with the issuing agency.

a. Establish a precedent for the authorized official for signing documentation (i.e., original letters and forms) of valid nonwork reasons

Before accepting an original letter or form that documents valid nonwork reasons, the FO must contact the government entity to establish a precedent for the official(s) with the authority to sign letters and forms that document valid nonwork reasons:

  • The signatory on the form letter must be a member of management.

  • The FO must establish a precedent and accept only the precedent signature for documenting nonwork reasons.

  • Should the official leave his or her position, the FO must establish another precedent with the new staff management official.

b. Accept only letters that meet SSA criteria

The letter or form letter from the government entity to document a valid nonwork reason:

  • must be dated and on letterhead stationery;

  • must specifically identify the alien, the nonwork reason an SSN is required, the relevant statute or regulations requiring the SSN as a condition to receive the benefit or service, and the name and telephone number of an official to contact so that the information provided may be verified;

  • must state that the alien meets all the requirements to receive the benefit or service, except for an SSN; and

  • must have the wet signature of the authorized official for the government entity. For additional requirements on establishing an FO precedent for the authorized official, see RM 10211.600A.3.a in this section.

NOTE: The FO may accept only documentation for a valid nonwork reason that meets all of the criteria.

IMPORTANT: Consult regional instructions for information on special requirements in your region.

For information on valid reasons for SSA to assign an SSN, see RM 10211.610.

For examples of invalid nonwork reasons, see RM 10211.615.

B. Title II and Title XVI documentation

If the applicant alleges entitlement to Title II or Title XVI (or both) benefits, access the MBR and SSID to verify the alleged entitlement to either or both programs. For only Title II entitlement, SSNAP requires a claim number in the Account Number field of the Non-Work Reason and Documentation section of the Proof of Legal Alien Status screen. SSNAP does not require an account number to document Title XVI entitlement.