TN 5 (09-04)
GN 03340.015 Requirements to be Met by Individuals Requesting Access
A. Policy - general
To request access, a requester needs to:
Identify himself/herself so that SSA can be sure it is giving access to the subject individual; and
Specify by name the system(s) of records about which he/she is interested or provide sufficient information to help SSA determine the system of records (e.g., state whether the requester is a number holder (NH) or beneficiary).
FOs can use the SSA Privacy Act Notices of Systems of Records (the Blue Book), which is available in all offices, to help determine the proper system. Most of the information normally requested from FOs can be found in one of the following systems:
Master Files of Social Security Number Holders
Earnings Recording and Self-Employment Income System
Claims Folder System
Master Beneficiary Record
Supplemental Security Income Record
B. Policy - establishing identity
The policy on establishing identity is shown in the following procedures.
1. Requests in person
Valid non-expired documents must be presented to establish identity when making access requests in person. Requesters known to SSA personnel do not need to present identification when requesting information in person. Requesters not known to SSA personnel must provide one of the following:
If an individual has no identification, ask for enough identifying information (e.g., name, SSN, DOB, address, place of birth, and at least one other item of information available in our records). Obtain a signed statement from the individual stating that he is the person he claims to be. The statement must also include the following Privacy Penalty Statement:
I certify that I am the person to whom the record pertains or that person's parent (if a minor) or legal guardian. I know that if I make any representation which I know is false to obtain information from Social Security records I could be punished by a fine or imprisonment or both.
See GN 03380.005B.1 for a client identification chart that provides the above information in a user friendly manner.
NOTE: If an individual has a helper to assist with obtaining access to records, also see GN 03340.005B.4.
2. Requests by mail
When a request is made by mail, the individual must provide sufficient information to identify himself/herself, including:
Signature (a handprinted signature is acceptable if the requester indicates this is his/her usual signature),
SSN or other identifying information required by the “Record Access Procedures” section of the system of records notice (in the Blue Book) to which access is requested, and
Notarized statement of identity or a signed statement that he/she is the individual to whom the record pertains and that he/she under stands that there are criminal penalties for making a knowing and willful request for access to records concerning another individual under false pretenses.
You should contact the requester if these requirements are not met and ask for the necessary information.
If the special indicator “6” appears in the ESI field on the numident, do not release any information by mail or fax. Advise the requester that the request must be made in person. See RM 10215.230, GN 03360.005A and GN 03380.005B.2.
3. Requests by telephone
When a request is made by phone, the caller must provide the following mandatory identifying information pertaining to the subject of the record:
If the caller cannot provide the mandatory identifying information, he/she must make the request in person, via fax, or in writing.
See GN 03380.005B.2. for a client identification chart that provides the identifying information in GN 03340.015B.3. in a user friendly manner.
The requirements for a fax request are the same as for a writing request.
If the special indicator “6” appears in the ESI field on the numident, do not release any information over the telephone. Advise the caller that the request must be made in person. See RM 10215.230, GN 03360.005A and GN 03380.005B.2.
NOTE 1: Even if the caller can provide the required identifying information, requests for sensitive records, such as medical records or earnings records, will not be handled by telephone. However, you may discuss the requester's earnings record with him or her in connection with a pending claim (see GN 03360.005A.2.).
NOTE 2: See GN 03340.005A.2. and GN 03340.005B.4.d. for situations where an individual has a helper to assist in getting access to records.
C. Policy - Determining requested information
Requests are not honored for “all records” or “all information.”
Requests should include the following information:
The full name of the subject individual (including maiden name, where applicable), SSN (or date of birth, place of birth, and parents' names), and address; and
The name of the system(s) of records to be searched, if it is known, or
Other identification of the information or record the individual wishes to access.