TN 3 (09-05)

GN 03325.020 SSN on SSA Mailings

A. Policy-General

SSA must ensure the confidentiality of Social Security numbers when mailing SSA correspondence. It is SSA policy that SSNs not be displayed on the outside of mailings, or be visible through envelopes.

B. Policy – Criteria For Disclosing SSNs

When mailing SSA correspondence, take the following precautions:

1. Mailing an Envelope to an Individual

Do NOT show the addressee's SSN on the envelope or make it visible through envelopes.

2. Writing to One Individual Concerning Others

DO NOT reveal the SSN's of any other individuals when writing to one individual concerning others unless:

  • the addressee otherwise has the right to that information, or

  • there is definite evidence in file indicating that the addressee already has the information.

EXAMPLE: When we write to one claimant, that person would not necessarily be entitled to know the SSNs of other claimants filing on the same record. However, if a parent has filed on behalf of one or more child(ren) and has listed the child(ren)'s SSN(s) on the application, we may refer to the SSN(s) in correspondence to that parent.

3. Requesting Information From Third Parties

If requesting information from third parties:

  • Do not show the SSN of claimants/beneficiaries for the purpose of associating the reply with the file when it is returned to the FO. Use another means of associating the material, such as an office unit number.

  • Do not disclose the specific purpose for needing the information, such as “SSI benefits.” Use a general term such as “Social Security matter.”

EXAMPLE: “A” applies for SSI benefits. The FO sends an SSA-L4201 to the spouse's employer to determine deemed income which is relevant to the amount of “A's” SSI benefit. The FO includes “A's” SSN on the SSA-L4201, and that “A” is filing for SSI benefits.

“A's” SSN and the type of benefits “A” is filing for should not be disclosed.

C. Procedure-Sending SSNs Via Email

1. Internal Transmission

SSNs and other personally identifiable information may be transmitted for official business purposes within SSA’s Microsoft Outlook/Exchange infrastructure.  This includes all SSA field offices, headquarters facilities, program service centers and regional offices, as well as trusted partners such as the State Disability Determination offices that are listed in SSA’s Microsoft Outlook Global Address List.

2. External Transmission

Sending SSNs or other personally identifiable information via e-mail outside of SSA’s Network that is not encrypted is prohibited.

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GN 03325.020 - SSN on SSA Mailings - 09/12/2005
Batch run: 01/27/2009