TN 3 (09-05)

GN 03325.005 Use of SSN by Government Agencies

A. Policy-General

In some instances, an Executive Order (EO) of the President or a specific Federal law may authorize a government agency’s use of the SSN. However, the fact that there is no specific Federal statutory authority for a government agency to use the SSN does not preclude an agency from doing so. See RM 10201.010 for a discussion of non-program uses of the SSN.

B. Policy-Authorized Uses Of The SSN

Listed below are uses of the SSN that are authorized by either EO of the President or by a specific Federal law. The listing is not intended to be all inclusive.

NOTE: The fact that a Federal law may authorize a government agency to collect and use the SSN is not the same as a law authorizing or requiring SSA to disclose or verify an SSN. See GN 03325.002, GN 03325.003, and GN 03325.004 for a discussion of the disclosure and verification of SSNs.

1. Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a, Note)

All Federal, State, and local government agencies must comply with the provisions of Section 7 of the Privacy Act. This provision states that it is unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit or privilege provided by law because the individual refuses to disclose his/her SSN, unless disclosure was required by statute or regulation prior to January 1, 1975, or is required by Federal statute.

Any government agency that asks an individual to furnish his/her SSN must inform the individual:

  • whether furnishing the information is mandatory or voluntary,

  • by what law or other authority the agency is requesting the number, and

  • the uses that will be made of the information.

SSA complies with this requirement by including a “Privacy Act Statement” on all SSA standard forms.

SSA does not have any implementation or enforcement authority for Section 7 of the Privacy Act. That authority rests with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Other government agencies that question how the Privacy Act might affect their collection and use of the SSN should be referred to OMB or the appropriate State's Attorney General's office.

2. Executive Order (EO) 9397 (1943)

EO 9397 mandates that whenever a Federal agency establishes a system of numerical personal identifiers, the agency should use the SSN. EO 9397 does not require SSA to disclose or verify SSNs. SSA limits the disclosure of information to SSN verification.

3. Social Security Act (Act)

a. Section 1137 of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 1320b—7)

Provides that States shall require, as a condition of eligibility for benefits under certain federally funded welfare programs, that each applicant or recipient of benefits under such programs furnish his/her SSN (or SSNs if he/she has been issued more than one number) to the State to enable the association of the records pertaining to the applicant or recipient with his/her SSN. These programs include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

  • Medicaid

  • Unemployment compensation

  • Food stamps

  • State adult assistance programs (Social Security titles I, X, XIV, and XVI which apply to Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa).

b. Section 205(c)(2)(C)(i) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(c)(i)) State Uses of SSNs

Provides that State agencies may, in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver’s license, or motor vehicle registration law within the agencies’ jurisdiction, use the SSN for the purpose of establishing the , identification of individuals affected by such law, and may require any individual to furnish his/her SSN.

NOTE: Even though the Social Security Act permits State agencies to require the use of the SSN for the programs discussed in Section 205(c)(2)(C)(i) of the Act, SSA does not disclose SSNs without written consent for use in any of the programs except general public assistance programs and State tax rebate programs that meet SSA’s criteria for income-maintenance programs (see GN 03301.002B., Glossary– Jargon and Special Terms, for definition of income-maintenance program).

SSA will verify SSNs without consent for States’ use in the administration of driver’s licenses laws, State tax rebate programs that meet SSA’s criteria for income-maintenance programs and for general public assistance programs. Written consent is required in all other cases.

c. Section 205(c)(2)(C)(ii) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(ii) Parents’ SSN, Child Support Enforcement (CSE)

Provides that each State require parents to furnish their SSNs when applying for a child's birth certificate.

NOTE: The parents’ SSN will not appear on the child's birth certificate and can only be used for CSE purposes.

d. Section 205(c)(2)(C)(iii) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(iii), Food Stamps

Allows the Secretary of Agriculture to require participants in the food stamp program (i.e., retailers and wholesalers) to furnish their SSNs and to use the SSN for other administrative purposes or enforcement of the Food Stamp Act of 1977. SSA policy allows verification of food stamp program participants’ SSNs for the Department of Agriculture without written consent.

e. Section 205(c)(2)(C)(viii) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)), New Government Programs (10/90)

Provides that SSNs and related records that are obtained or maintained by authorized persons pursuant to any provision of law enacted on or after October 1, 1990, shall be confidential, and no authorized person shall disclose any such SSN or related records.

This provision of the Act defines “authorized person” and “related record” as follows:

“Authorized person” means an officer or employee of the United States, an officer or employee of any State, political subdivision of a State, or agency of a State or political subdivision of a State, and any other person (or officer or employee thereof), who has or had access to [SSNs] or related records pursuant to any provision of law enacted on or after October 1, 1990. For purposes of this sub clause, the term “officer or employee” includes a former officer or employee.

“Related record” means any record, list, or compilation that indicates, directly or indirectly, the identity of any individual with respect to whom a [SSN] or a request for a [SSN] is maintained pursuant to this clause.

NOTE: This provision of law does not have any impact on Social Security Act programs. It may affect other new government programs enacted after September 1990. Any questions concerning this section should be referred to the Office of Public Disclosure.

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GN 03325.005 - Use of SSN by Government Agencies - 10/08/2010
Batch run: 10/08/2010