TN 8 (12-16)

GN 03320.005 Access Requests of Tax Return Information for Disclosure to the Subject of the Record

A. Policy for handling requests for tax return information

An individual may request access to his or her tax return information we maintain in his or her Social Security records under the:

We must always verify the identity of the requester and determine that the individual has access rights to the information. For instructions concerning the handling of access requests, see GN 03340.000.

1. Requests for access to tax return information using prescribed forms

We developed the following forms and methods for providing access to earnings records and disclosing such information to individuals and third parties with written consent:

  • my Social Security, which provides earnings information and access to the Social Security Statement;

  • Form SSA-7004 (Request for Social Security Statement), which provides a summary earnings statement; and

  • Form SSA-7050-F4 (Request for Social Security Earnings Information), which provides detailed earnings information including employer names and addresses.

We direct the individual to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/my Social Security or provide Form SSA-7050-F4, depending on the type of earnings information he or she is requesting. Individuals may access Form SSA-7004-SM only via our public-facing website to download, print, complete, and return the form to us.

We cannot require an individual to use these forms and methods. We accept a request for earnings information not made on a prescribed form if:

  • the request is in writing;

  • the individual signed and dated the request for access; and

  • the request contains all the information requested on the prescribed form.

See also:

20 C.F.R. §404.810(b) How to obtain a statement of earnings and a benefit estimate statement

2. Requests for a Detailed Earnings Query or Summary Earnings Query (SEQY)

a. Releasing earnings records

SSA designed query responses such as DEQYs and SEQYs for internal use only and not for public distribution. However, if an individual demonstrates an urgent need for his or her earnings records, the field office (FO) can release:

  • a SEQY;

  • a DEQY;

  • a Social Security Statement Online output; or

  • any other online earnings query to which the FO has access and is appropriate for disclosure.

In these cases, accept the individual's statement that he or she has an urgent need for the information.

IMPORTANT: The FO must explain the entries on the form in writing, or in a face-to-face or telephone interview.

For additional instructions concerning access requests for tax return information, see GN 03340.010B.2.

b. Obtaining fee remittance

Follow the fee schedule found on Form SSA-7050-F4, if we provide a DEQY to the individual for a non-program purpose.

For instructions about fee remittance, see:

  • GN 02403.012 Processing Fees Received in the Field Office (FO);

  • MSOM DMS 003.006 Field Office Remittance Input (RFOR);

  • MSOM DMS 003.007 Automated Receipt, Field Office Payment Coupon and Forwarding Instruction Sheets; and

  • MSOM DMS 004.009 Unverified FO Receipt Alert Listings.

If we provide the individual with a DEQY in lieu of processing an SSA-7050-F4, shred the form. Do not forward or retain the form.

There is no fee for providing a SEQY to:

  • the wage earner,

  • his or her legal representative,

  • his or her survivor, or

  • the legal representative of the wage earner's estate.

The Social Security Act requires us to disclose this information, therefore, it is program-related per Section 205(c)(2)(A).

See also:

GN 03320.030 Fees for Disclosure of Tax Return Information

3. Requests for access to tax return information maintained in fraud or investigatory files

Generally, tax return information, as well as other information that is a part of a fraud or investigatory file, is exempt from access by the subject of the record under the Privacy Act. However, because the individual requesting access also has rights under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it is our policy to process such requests under the FOIA. For instructions on routing FOIA requests, see GN 03350.005B.3.

4. Requests for access to tax return information via telephone

Tax return information is sensitive; therefore, we should not release this information over the telephone. We must always be certain of the individual's identity and that he or she is entitled to receive the information. In situations where an individual is initiating contact with us, we should advise the calling party to:

  • complete Form SSA-7050-F4;

  • access my Social Security, depending on the type of earnings information they are requesting; or

  • make an in-person visit, if they have an urgent need for the information.

EXCEPTION: We may release tax information in connection with a pending claim or an earnings record discrepancy case that is already in progress. This includes cases where an individual calls to question the accuracy of an earnings record. In these situations, the purpose of the telephone conversation is to clarify and resolve questions rather than initiate access to tax information. For further instructions regarding the release of information via telephone, see GN 03360.005A.2.

EXAMPLE: An individual who received an earnings statement called to inquire about the earnings shown on his or her statement. After we verify the individual's identity, we may discuss the earnings information, as necessary, to resolve or clarify the question. We cannot disclose earnings information, if the individual requests information for years that do not appear on the statement.

See also:

For further instructions to verify the identity of a caller requesting access to tax return information, see GN 03340.015B.3. and GN 03360.005A.1.c. For instructions pertaining to a request from a parent or legal guardian on behalf of a minor, see GN 03340.025.

5. Requests for access to tax return information via auxiliary claimants or beneficiaries

We may provide a wage earner’s tax return information to a claimant filing as an auxiliary on the record to pursue his or her claim. For instructions concerning requests from auxiliary claimants or beneficiaries, see GN 03316.110.

B. Process for handling requests for tax return information

For instructions on how to process requests to obtain tax return information including third party requests, see GN 03320.001E.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203320005
GN 03320.005 - Access Requests of Tax Return Information for Disclosure to the Subject of the Record - 12/06/2016
Batch run: 12/06/2016
Rev:12/06/2016