TN 5 (05-18)

GN 03325.005 Use of Social Security Numbers (SSN) by Government Agencies

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 there is no specific Federal statutory authority for a government agency to use the SSN does not preclude an agency from doing so.

A. Authorized uses of SSNs

Below are examples where an EO or Federal law has authorized other agencies to use SSNs. This listing is not all-inclusive.

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 or 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 or 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.

We comply with this requirement by including a “Privacy Act Statement” on all agency standard forms.

We do 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). We should refer other government agencies that inquire how the Privacy Act might affect their collection and use of SSNs to OMB.

2. 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 or her SSN (or SSNs if he or 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 or her SSN. Programs identified under section 1137 of the Act include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families;

  • Medicaid;

  • unemployment compensation;

  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); and

  • 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. We will verify SSNs without consent in these instances; 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. The State may only use the parents’ SSNs for the enforcement of child support orders.

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 SNAP (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. Our policy allows verification of SNAP participants’ SSNs for the United States 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 government programs enacted after September 1990. Refer any questions concerning this section to the Office of Privacy and Disclosure.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203325005
GN 03325.005 - Use of Social Security Numbers (SSN) by Government Agencies - 05/29/2018
Batch run: 05/29/2018
Rev:05/29/2018