BASIC (10-09)

RM 10211.615 Invalid Nonwork Reasons for SSN Assignment

Aliens may request SSNs for a variety of benefits and services. However, not all of these benefits and services serve as valid reasons for assigning an SSN for nonwork purposes.

Following is a list of benefits and services that are not valid for assigning a new SSN.

A. Examples of benefits and services for which aliens may request an SSN

1. Federal and State income tax purposes

Under U.S. tax law, taxpayers and certain other individuals must provide a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to IRS (26 USC 6109 ). The TIN may be either the SSN assigned by SSA, or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), a 9-digit number assigned by IRS.

IRS assigns an ITIN to a taxpayer, spouse, or dependent who needs a TIN for tax purposes, but does not otherwise meet SSA's requirements for an SSN.

2. Earned Income Credit (EIC)

Only work-authorized aliens are eligible for EIC (as the taxpayer claiming the EIC or as the qualifying child). Such eligible aliens may apply for SSNs.

EIC is not a valid nonwork reason for assigning an SSN.

3. State tax laws

State laws may require an alien to provide, for State tax purposes, the SSN issued to him or her by SSA, but SSA does not assign SSNs for nonwork purposes solely for State tax purposes.

4. Banking or monetary purposes

With limited exceptions, an individual must provide a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) to a financial institution for an account or other monetary transaction (loan, mortgage, stock or bond purchase) for tax purposes. The TIN may be either the SSN assigned to the individual, when applicable, or an ITIN assigned by the IRS.

If the alien has been present in the U.S. for less than 6 months, he or she is exempt from providing a TIN for banking purposes and should ask the financial institution for Form W-8 (Certificate of Foreign Status). IRS assigns ITINs for banking purposes to aliens not authorized to work who have been present in the U.S. for 180 days or more. However, SSA does not assign SSNs solely for this purpose.

5. State driver's license or identity card

A driver's license is not a “valid nonwork reason” for assigning an SSN, and SSA does not assign an SSN for this purpose. However, an alien applying for an SSN for a commercial driver's license should be able to present Department of Homeland Security (DHS) evidence of work authorization and, therefore, should be eligible for an SSN.

A State may request an applicant to provide his or her SSN to obtain a State-issued non-driver identity card. However, the Social Security Act does not require SSA to assign an SSN solely for this purpose, and SSA does not do so.

6. Other State-issued licenses or certificates

A State may require an applicant to provide his or her SSN to obtain a State-issued license (e.g., vocational or professional license, marriage license, gun license, hunting license, or fishing license). While States are required to record the SSNs of marriage license applicants and, for child-support enforcement purposes, to individuals granted divorce decrees, SSA is not required to assign SSNs solely for any of these reasons and does not do so.

7. Savings Bonds

Treasury regulations (31 CFR 353.5 - 353.6 ) require an individual registering a Series EE or HH savings bond to provide the taxpayer identification number of the owner or first named co-owner. Treasury regulations also restrict who may own a bond.

The following lists who may own a bond, if they purchase the bond through a payroll savings plan:

  • residents of the U.S., its territories or possessions, or Puerto Rico;

  • citizens of the U.S. residing abroad;

  • civilian employees of the U.S. or members of its armed services; and

  • residents of Canada or Mexico who work in the U.S.

A nonresident alien (or one temporarily in the U.S.) may be designated a co-owner or beneficiary. However, SSA does not assign an SSN solely for this purpose.

8. Student loan

An applicant for a Federal Student Assistance Program loan is required to provide his or her SSN (20 USC 1091(a)(4)(B) ). However, the aid is provided only to U.S. citizens, aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or to individuals with one of the following immigration designations:

  • "Refugees,"

  • "Asylum Granted,"

  • "Indefinite Parole" or "Humanitarian Parole,"

  • "Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Status Pending," or

  • "Conditional Entrant" (valid only if issued before April 1, 1980).

Nonimmigrant visitors, whether authorized to work or not, are not eligible for student loans. Therefore, SSA does not assign an SSN solely for this purpose.

9. School lunch program

The individual on whose behalf an application is made for school lunch program benefits does not need an SSN. The adult household member who signs the application for the free or reduced-price lunch must provide either his or her SSN or an indication that he or she has not been assigned an SSN. Thus, a letter from SSA indicating that an SSN cannot be assigned generally meets school lunch program requirements. SSA does not assign an SSN solely for this purpose (see 7 CFR 245.2 ).

10. HUD housing

Each member of the family, age six or older, must provide his or her SSN to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or a statement that an SSN has not been assigned. Thus, a letter from SSA indicating that an SSN cannot be assigned generally meets HUD program requirements. SSA does not assign an SSN solely for this purpose.

11. School purposes

A school policy may require a student to provide an SSN to enroll in school. Some schools use the SSN as a student identifier, when the student has one. However, because schools are not mandated to use the SSN in administering educational programs, when the student does not have an SSN or prefers not to provide his or her SSN, the school should assign the student an internal student number.

Although the application forms for the SAT, GRE, and other educational tests have a space to show the SSN, the student is not required to provide an SSN to take the test. SSA does not assign an SSN solely for this purpose.

12. Representative payees and SSI deemors

SSA does not assign SSNs to representative payees or SSI deemors who are not otherwise eligible for an SSN.

13. Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits

There is no statutory requirement that an individual must have an SSN in order to receive VA benefits or TRICARE benefits through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). While the VA often requires an applicant to provide his or her SSN in order to receive VA benefits, 38 CFR Section 1.575 (“Social Security numbers in veterans’ benefit matters”) specifically states that a “claimant shall not be required to furnish VA with a social security number for any person to whom a social security number has not been assigned.” Therefore, SSA is not required to assign SSNs solely for VA benefits and does not do so.

B. Handling requests based on invalid nonwork reasons

When an alien applies for an SSN for nonwork purposes and gives an invalid reason, provide written notice, using Form SSA-L676, to explain why we cannot assign an SSN or issue a card (see RM 10215.110).

If the alien applies for an SSN for Federal or State income tax purposes, or for banking or monetary purposes, tell the alien:

  • SSA does not assign an SSN solely for these purposes; and

  • He or she can complete Form W-7 (Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) to apply for an ITIN through IRS.
    NOTE: If you provide the alien with an SSA-L676, advise him or her to send a copy with the IRS Form W-7. Doing so enables IRS to more readily determine eligibility for an ITIN.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0110211615
RM 10211.615 - Invalid Nonwork Reasons for SSN Assignment - 03/08/2013
Batch run: 03/08/2013
Rev:03/08/2013