Under the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. §
552a(b)(8)), we may disclose non-tax return information in compelling circumstances affecting
the health or safety of an individual. A compelling circumstance is an emergency,
life or death situation, where harm is believed to be imminent.
We may initiate a disclosure or respond to a request from an entity that could take
action on the information disclosed. In these cases, the Privacy Act requires us to
send a notice to the individual informing him or her that we have made a disclosure
of their personal information. The Privacy Act does not mandate a time period during
which this notification must be sent.
Examples of health and safety disclosure that may be made under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(8)
To the police or another appropriate party for the location, prosecution or detention
of an individual who has threatened to harm another individual (including an SSA employee).
To a person whose health or safety has been threatened, when disclosure is made in
an attempt to prevent the threatened harm.
To an appropriate mental health clinic, agency, hotline, etc., to report a threatened
To a public or hospital official who needs information to identify a deceased, amnesiac,
unconscious or mentally incapacitated person and cannot obtain it from any other source.
To a public agency (such as a State Health Department) responsible for the identification,
location, or treatment of individuals who have medical conditions that are legally
reportable and perilous to the health or safety of themselves or the public.
Keep in mind that disclosure in health and safety situations may fall within other
exceptions to the Privacy Act allowing disclosure without consent. For example, see
GN 03312.095 for more information on disclosures to law enforcement agencies involving health
and safety situations, and see GN 03314.120 for more information on disclosures without consent to state and local protective
social services agencies, involving health and safety situations in which a child
or other vulnerable person may be the victim of neglect or abuse.