TN 40 (11-15)

GN 00203.020 Identity of Claimants

A. Policy for identifying claimants

1. Verifying the Social Security Number (SSN)

We verify the SSN to ensure that we use the correct earnings record (ER) to adjudicate the claim, and to confirm that the SSN belongs to the claimant.

Whenever the claimant is unable to give us his or her own SSN, ask the claimant to search for a document containing that SSN, such as the SSN card, or old tax record that includes the SSN. Confirm the SSN on the document belongs to the person.

2. Establishing the identity of the claimant

The purpose of the identification of the claimant is to establish that he or she is the person alleged.

a. In-person identification

Have the individual present an identity document (U.S. Passport, State issued driver’s license, or State issued identification (ID) card.) For a list of acceptable forms of identity, see RM 10210.420. The documents must provide:

  • biographical information (name, date of birth (DOB), age) that the interviewer can compare with SSA records, such as the “Numident” or a previously established Master Beneficiary Record (MBR); or

  • physical information the interviewer can compare with the applicant (physical description, height, weight, age, or photograph). A non-picture identity document should have the individual’s name and at least one other biographical item (age, DOB, or parents’ names). For detailed information on what information is required on an identification document, refer to RM 10210.410B.

NOTE: If proper identification is provided, you may proceed with the interview. If the individual does not have any ID that meets the requirements in RM 10210.410B, and he or she has exhausted all resources to provide identity documents, do the following:

  • verify the individual’s identity by confirming the information on the Numident following the guidance for verifying identity in telephone interviews per GN 00203.020A.2.b. in this section;

  • obtain a written statement from the individual certifying that he or she is the individual who he or she claims to be, and that he or she understands that the knowing and willful request for, or acquisition of, a record pertaining to an individual under false pretenses, is a criminal offense; and

  • scan the document into (NDRED), if the individual has an electronic folder. If no electronic folder exists, then assemble a “paper” folder and retain all documentation in the field office (FO) for two years (see GN 01010.420C).

b. Telephone identification

Verify the claimant’s identity by confirming the information on the Numident. Obtain the following information using open-ended questions:

  • claimant’s name (“What is your name?”);

  • SSN (“What is your Social Security number?”);

  • DOB (“What is your date of birth?”);

  • parents’ names (“What are your parents’ names?”);

  • mother’s maiden name (“What is your mother’s maiden name?”); and

  • place of birth (POB) (“Where were you born?”).

c. Identification Numident tolerances for claims

Two discrepancies may occur during a claim that we might consider “minor” in nature:

  1. Parent’s names; and

  2. City of birth.

When there is a discrepancy between the claimant’s allegation of his or her parents’ names and corresponding data on the Numident, the technician must determine if the discrepancy is minor, or represents an actual change. We consider a discrepancy in a parent’s name minor, if it can be explained easily and no actual name change took place.

For the city of birth, we can accept discrepancies between the exact location if the alleged city of birth is within the same locale.

Examples of minor discrepancies that may not call identity into question are:

  1. The claimant reports the parent’s last name as “Monahan” and the Numident shows “Monaghan;” or the claimant reports a parent’s name as “James” and the Numident shows “Jim” (a common nickname for James); or

  2. The Numident shows the POB as “Baltimore”, but the claimant reports they were born in “Woodlawn,” a suburb of Baltimore.

If an actual change is involved, the technician must request evidence to support the change and complete an application in the Social Security Number Application Process (SSNAP) program to update the new information to the Numident.

d. Identification reminders

Technicians need to be aware of the following:

  • the SSN card cannot be used to establish the claimant's identity. For acceptable evidence of identity, see RM 10210.405 through RM 10210.430;

  • if the claimant does not agree with the information on our records and can provide evidence to change information on the Numident during the verification process, see “Evidence of a Name Change on the SSN” in RM 10212.010, or “Changing Numident Data for Reasons other than Name Change” in RM 10212.200;

  • if a Special Indicator is present on the Numident, see RM 10215.200; and

  • if there is discrepant death data, see GN 02602.070C through GN 02602.070C.

3. Resolving question of identity

One discrepant answer to the questions in GN 00203.020A.2.b. in this section may not raise a question of identity of the claimant. More than one discrepant answer generally will raise doubt. Take the following steps to address questionable identity issues:

  1. Conduct a face-to-face interview per GN 00203.003, if needed.

  2. For instructions on the detection and development of potentially fraudulent identity issues, follow the applicable procedures in GN 04110.010.

If the claimant is applying for benefits, the identity discrepancies must be resolved during claims development. For Title II instructions, see GN 00203.030; and for Title XVI instructions, see SI 00601.062.

4. Multiple SSNs in different names

Individuals may have multiple SSNs assigned based on evidence documenting harassment, abuse, or life endangerment, or for one of the reasons listed in RM 10220.045. When we assign a new SSN for one of these reasons, the old and new SSNs are cross-referred. When you become aware that a number holder (NH) has more than one SSN, and the SSNs are not cross-referred, you must determine if the SSNs actually belong to the NH; and, if so, take additional action per instructions for “Discovery and Processing of Multiple Social Security Number (SSN) Cases” in RM 10220.400.

B. References

  • GN 00203.003 Face-to-Face Contact with Claimants

  • GN 00203.030 Resolving Identity Discrepancies in Title II Claims

  • GN 02602.070C Resolving Death Alerts – Beneficiary in Current Pay

  • GN 04110.010 Detecting and Developing Program Fraud

  • RM 10210.405 Evidence of Identity for an SSN Card

  • RM 10210.420 Priority List of Acceptable Evidence of Identity Documents

  • RM 10212.010 Evidence of a Name Change on the SSN

  • RM 10212.200 Changing Numident Data for Reasons other than Name Change

  • RM 10215.200 General Information about Special Indicators

  • RM 10220.045 When the Field Office (FO) May Approve New Social Security Number (SSN) Requests

  • RM 10220.400 Discovery and Processing of Multiple Social Security Number (SSN) Cases

  • SI 00601.062 Resolving Identity Discrepancies in Title XVI Claims


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200203020
GN 00203.020 - Identity of Claimants - 08/05/2016
Batch run: 08/05/2016
Rev:08/05/2016