PRIVACY/SECURITY MESSAGE TO ALL
WORKERS IN THE
As a non-Federal worker in the Social Security Administration (SSA) you are bound
by the same rules and laws that apply to other SSA employees concerning the privacy
of personal information in SSA files. Protecting the privacy of records is an obligation
that SSA takes very seriously, and SSA issues reminders to its employees about this
This document explains what those rules and laws are and how they apply to you as
a non-Federal worker. Your manager or supervisor will review this document with you
so you will be aware of your responsibilities to safeguard the information in SSA
records and the penalties for unauthorized use or disclosure of information from those
After your manager or supervisor has discussed this document with you, you will be
asked to sign the document certifying that you:
have received a copy of the document.
have been informed about the rules concerning the privacy of personal information
in SSA files.
understand that, as a non-Federal worker, you are subject to the same criminal and
administrative penalties that would apply to Federal workers who violate Federal laws
that govern the use and disclosure of personal information in SSA’s files.
Criminal and Administrative Penalties
Non-Federal workers who, without proper authorization, willfully and knowingly disclose,
by sale or otherwise, personally identifiable information about an individual from
SSA records, will have their work experience program terminated and may be prosecuted
under Federal criminal law. Maximum criminal penalties for such acts can include a
fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Also, any non-Federal worker who, with intent to deceive, falsely represents for any
purpose that a Social Security number (SSN) is his or her number or the number of
another individual, or who discloses or uses the SSN of any person in violation of
the laws of the United States, is guilty of a felony. This is punishable by imprisonment
for up to 5 years and/or fines of up to $250,000. SSA will vigorously pursue the maximum
penalties in these cases and terminate the work experience program of any worker convicted
of this felony.
Examples of Inappropriate Use of Disclosure of Information
You must ensure that the confidentiality of SSA information in SSA records is protected
in all of your day-to-day work. This includes performing all of your assigned duties.
You must not use SSA records to:
Establish or create false records;
Obtain, review or use personal information about a member of the public when you do
not need or use such information in your Social Security work;
Obtain, review or release information about anyone for non-work purposes, including
celebrities, sports figures, friends, relatives, coworkers, or yourself;
Assist friends in filing income tax returns; or
Locate or release individuals’ addresses for non-program purposes (such as planning
Also, you must never disclose the contents of a beneficiary’s record to a third party
without express written permission from the beneficiary or unless allowed by Agency
instructions. These instructions provide additional limitations on disclosure by telephone.
Assisting Family Members with Social Security Business
and Reviewing Your Own Social Security Record
As a non-Federal worker at SSA you may be asked by family members to help them with
SSA-related business or to get information about them from SSA records. You should
generally refer relatives who are beneficiaries to their local field office or SSA’s
800 number for help and information. If you want to assist a member of your immediate
family (your parents, spouse or children), you may do so by being with them when they
call our 800 number (1-800-772-1213). The family member should give the Teleservice
Representative (TSR) information to establish his or her identity, and then explain
that you will be assisting with the call. You may then discuss business with the TSR
and get any information you may need to help the member of your family.
If you receive a request for earnings information from a relative who is not receiving
Social Security benefits, have your relative complete and sign the Request for Earnings
and Benefit Estimate Statement, Form SSA-7004-SM. This form is readily available at
any SSA office and by calling the 800 number.
For any other requests related to family members, your manager or supervisor can obtain
information or authorize other SSA employees to do so. If there is any uncertainty
regarding whether the information should be made available to you, your manager or
supervisor will consult with a privacy coordinator.
You should follow the same procedures when you need to obtain information from your
own Social Security record.
The SSA Systems Security Officer (SSASSO) is responsible for ensuring the security
of SSA records in the systems environment. This includes establishing state-of-the-art
safeguards to protect against unauthorized use and disclosure of SSA information.
The SSASSO is also responsible for ensuring that systems security breaches are investigated
and appropriate action is taken.
If You Need Further Information
A summary of the statutes, regulations and SSA instructions regarding privacy is in
POMS, Part 02, Chapter 33. If you have questions that are not answered in POMS, refer
them to your manager or supervisor. If you have any security questions concerning
the use of SSA’s systems, refer them to your manager or supervisor as well.
You should report any concerns or observations of suspected abuse to your manager
or supervisor. If you prefer, you may report anonymously through the Office of Inspector
General Hotline at 1-800-368-5779.