Identification Number:
GN 03325 TN 05
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:Office of the General Counsel
Title:Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:Records Maintenance (Earnings & Enumeration)
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part 02 - General
Chapter 033 - Disclosure/Confidentiality of Information
Subchapter 25 - Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Transmittal No. 05, 05/2018

Audience

FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, FR, OS, RR, CSR, TA, CTE, TSC-CSR
PSC: CA, SCPS, CS, TSA, TST, DE, DEC, DS, ICDS, IES, ISRA, PETE, RECONR
OCO-ODO: BET, BTE, CCE, CR, CST, CTE, CTE TE, DE, DEC, DS, DES, DS, DSE, PAS, PETE, PETL, RCOVTA, RECONE, RECOVR
OCO-OEIO: BIES, BTE, CR, CTE, EIE, FCR, FDE, LC, PETL, RECONE, RECONR, RECOVR
ODD-DDS: DHU
OEO: DOSPA, OSSPA, WBDOCPA

Originating Component

OPD

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

This transmittal clarifies and enhances existing policy related to the use, disclosure, and verification of Social Security numbers (SSN). Our policies have not changed, throughout the subchapters, we made an effort to outline them in detail.

Summary of Changes

GN 03325.000 Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN)

We revised the title from “Social Security Number – Disclosure and Verification.” We updated the subsections including subchapter headings, to enhance existing policy. We archived all non-relevant information (see conversion table below for more information).


GN 03325.001 Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN) Without Consent

  • We archived this section.
  • We incorporated policy pertaining to the history of the SSN in GN 03325.002.
GN 03325.002 Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN) Without Consent
  • We changed the title from “Disclosure of Social Security Numbers (SSN) Without Consent.
  • We also incorporated policy pertaining to the history of the SSN from GN 03325.001 and policy pertaining to Executive Order 9397 and chart information from GN 03325.003.

GN 03325.003 Verification of the Social Security Numbers (SSN) Without Consent

  • We archived this section.
  • We incorporated policy pertaining to Executive Order 9397 and chart information in GN 03325.002.

GN 03325.004 Disclosure of Additional Identifying Information When Only the Social Security Number (SSN) is Provided to SSA

We changed the title from “Disclosure When Only the Social Security Number (SSN) is Provided to SSA.”

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

We changed the title from “Use of SSN by Government Agencies.”

GN 03325.006 Misuses of the Social Security Number (SSN)

We archived this section, as the policy contained in this section is not pertinent to the disclosure of information.

GN 03325.007 Handling Reports of the Social Security Number (SSN) Confidentiality Problems

We archived this section, as we do not refer reports to the Office of Management and Budget.

GN 03325.020 Social Security Numbers (SSN) on SSA Mailings

We changed the title from “SSN on SSA Mailings.”

GN 03325.025 Requests for Numident Records

We changed the title from “Request for Numident Printouts.”

We added new:

Subsection D – Field office instructions for SSN printout requests
Subsection E – Instructions for first party SSN verifications
Subsection F – Instructions for third party SSN verifications
Subsection G – Instructions for SSN verifications in non-emergency situations

                      CONVERSION TABLE
New POMS ReferenceOld POMS (GN) Reference
GN 03325.001GN 03325.002
GN 03325.002GN 03325.002
GN 03325.003GN 03325.002
GN 03325.004GN 03325.004
GN 03325.005GN 03325.005
GN 03325.006Archive
GN 03325.007Archive
GN 03325.020GN 03325.020
GN 03325.025GN 03325.025


GN 03325.002 Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN) Without Consent

A. History of the Social Security number (SSN)

The Social Security number (SSN) was established in 1936 to track the wages of workers covered under the Social Security system. Because of its use as a unique identifier, the SSN is one of the most sensitive pieces of personal information in our records. It is the key to identifying and retrieving most of the highly personal and sensitive information we maintain about individuals.

Over the decades, the use of the SSN has expanded greatly beyond the original purpose for its establishment. In fact, it has become the identifier of choice by all levels of government and the private and commercial sectors, as a numerical key to their recordkeeping systems. In some cases, Federal (and State) laws have been enacted that authorize the use of the SSN for a specific purpose(s). In the vast majority of cases, however, there are no Federal laws that either prohibit or authorize the use of the SSN. Consequently, governmental and nongovernmental entities use the SSN as a personal identifier for lawful purposes because of its availability as a unique identifier. Some government agencies use the SSN for identification and administrative purposes. The private sector uses the SSN for similar purposes, generally, without restraint. For example, the private sector may refuse service or credit, or may deny admission or membership, etc., to anyone unwilling to furnish his or her SSN. Generally, Federal law does not control private sectors’ use of SSNs disclosed to them directly from a number holder, other than criminal actions.

We have no authority over other entities’ collection and use of the SSN. Although the SSN is widely used, it is our policy to verify SSNs, and SSN information, under limited circumstances as allowed or required by Federal laws, such as the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)), the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552), the Social Security Act (e.g., 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(a); 405(c); and 1320b-7), and our disclosure regulations (20 C.F.R. §§ 401 and 402). We only disclose an SSN in narrow circumstances in which we have legal authority and where we are able to identify the true number holder.

All Federal, State, or local government agencies that collect and use the SSN for identification purposes must adhere to the requirements in section 7 of the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a, Note). For a discussion of the Privacy Act’s section 7 requirements, see GN 03325.005B.1. We do not have any enforcement or other authority for Section 7 of the Privacy Act. Such authority rests with the Office of Management and Budget.

B. Verifying SSNs

In cases in which we may verify SSNs, the requester must provide sufficient information for us to locate the SSN and to determine if the request meets our disclosure criteria.

Because of the sensitivity of the SSN as a unique personal identifier, we only verify SSNs without consent under the following circumstances:

  • a Federal law requires us to verify SSNs;

  • a Federal law authorizes the collection of SSNs to administer an income/health maintenance program, allowing us to verify SSNs to the agency administering the program; or

  • one or more of the Privacy Act’s disclosure exceptions allows us to verify SSNs.

1. When Federal law requires SSA to verify SSNs

When a Federal law requires SSA to verify SSNs, we will comply with the statutory mandate regardless of the purpose for the verifications in the law.

NOTE: A Federal law that authorizes another government agency to collect and use the SSN is not the same as a Federal law requiring SSA to verify an SSN. However, refer to section 2 below. Similarly, a Federal law that authorizes another government agency to collect and use the SSN is not the same as a Federal law requiring SSA to disclose an SSN. In order for us to disclose the SSN, the statute must specifically mandate that SSA disclose SSNs.

2. Verification of SSNs under one or more of the Privacy Act’s disclosure exceptions

The Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)) contains 12 exceptions that allow Federal agencies to disclose information without the written consent of the individual to whom the information pertains. For a discussion of these disclosure exceptions, see GN 03301.020B.4. We apply the Privacy Act disclosure exceptions to requests for SSNs on a case-by-case basis.

a. Verification of SSNs under the Privacy Act routine use exception

One of the Privacy Act’s 12 disclosure exceptions is the routine use exception (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(3)). The routine use exception allows SSA to verify SSNs to third parties without the consent of the individual, to whom the information pertains, for a purpose that is compatible with the purpose for which we collected the information.

We established a number of routine uses in the Master Files of SSN Holders and SSN Applications system of records notice that allow the verification of SSNs to third parties. You can view this system of records notice and its routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.

NOTE: We only disclose an SSN under a Privacy Act routine use in rare circumstances. Direct such requests to the Office of Privacy and Disclosure.

b. When Federal law authorizes use of the SSN in an income-maintenance or health-maintenance program

When a Federal law authorizes a Federal, State, or local government agency to collect and use the SSN to determine eligibility for benefits, benefit amounts, or other matters of benefit status in an income-maintenance or health-maintenance program that it administers, we may verify the SSN for the administration of that income-maintenance or health-maintenance program.

Examples of Federal laws that authorize use of the SSN in income-maintenance or health-maintenance program are:

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1320b-7 (Section 1137 of the Social Security Act (Act) requires the States to collect the SSN of applicants for certain programs (e.g., Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and unemployment compensation);

  • 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(i) (Section 205(c)(2)(C)(i) of the Act) provides that States may require applicants for general public assistance to furnish their SSNs; and

  • 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(iii) (Section 205(c)(2)(C)(iii) of the Act) allows the Secretary of Agriculture to require participants in SNAP to furnish their SSNs and to use the SSN for other administrative purposes or enforcement of the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

NOTE: The Federal law must specifically authorize the agency’s use of the SSN. Questions concerning whether a Federal law authorizes the use of the SSN in an income-maintenance program or health-maintenance program should be referred to the Office of Privacy and Disclosure, Office of the General Counsel, through the Regional or Central Office Privacy Act Coordinator.

c. Verification of SSNs to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies

Verification for a law enforcement purpose is one of the Privacy Act disclosure exceptions (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(7)). We make decisions to verify SSNs on a case-by-case basis for criminal law enforcement activity. The law enforcement agency must present a valid written request for information concerning:

  • an individual who has been indicted for or convicted of a serious crime (e.g., murder, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking) or

  • criminal activity involving Social Security programs (including SSN misuse) or another agency’s health/income maintenance program.

We discuss our policy and criteria for disclosure of information for law enforcement activities in GN 03312.000.

d. Verification of SSNs pursuant to court orders

We may verify an SSN in response to a court order from a court of competent jurisdiction under the following circumstances:

  • the Commissioner is a party to the proceedings;

  • disclosure is specifically permitted by 20 C.F.R. Part 401; or

  • the information is necessary for due process in a criminal proceeding.

Due process cases can be complex because a disclosure may affect the privacy rights of someone other than the defendant. Thus, regional offices and FOs should consult with the Regional Chief Counsel on these cases; central office components should consult with the Office of Privacy and Disclosure, Office of the General Counsel. For further guidance regarding court orders, see GN 03330.000.

NOTE: A protective order should be sought from the court even if an order meets the criteria stated in this section.

EXAMPLE: A defendant in a criminal proceeding needs information from our records, other than his or her own, that is alleged to be essential to his or her defense. We may make a disclosure under the above circumstances, but should seek a protective order before doing so.

C. Criteria for verifying SSNs

1. Required identifying information

Individual requests for SSN verification must include the SSN, name, and date of birth of the individual whose SSN a requester is seeking to verify. A requester unable to provide the date of birth must provide one or more of the following identifying particulars:

  • place of birth;

  • mother’s maiden name; or

  • father’s name.

NOTE: If a request for SSN verification includes only the name and SSN, and our policy would otherwise allow the verification, you may verify the SSN only if you locate a single SSN record containing an exact match of that name and SSN with information in our files. We will not verify an SSN without a name, even if the requester provides the place of birth, mother’s maiden name, or father’s name.

2. Justification for verification

The requester must provide sufficient information to determine the request meets our disclosure criteria.

D. Common verifications of SSNs

The following are the most common SSN verifications allowed under our disclosure policy. The listings are not all inclusive. Please review our routine uses listed in the Privacy Act system of records notice, Master Files of Social Security Number (SSN) Holders and SSN Applications System, for a full list of our disclosure authorities. You can view this notice at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.

1. Verification of SSNs to Federal, State, and local agencies

We have many data exchange agreements with Federal, State, and local agencies, through which we verify SSNs to these agencies. Field offices (FO) and components should check with their Data Exchange Coordinator to determine if we have an agreement to verify SSNs with a particular agency. The chart below identifies the most common disclosures and verifications of SSNs to Federal, State, and local agencies.

Agency or Entity

Purpose of Disclosure

Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Pursuant to a written request to identify and locate aliens in the United States.

NOTE: We do not have the legal authority to disclose information about U.S. citizens to DHS. If DHS requests information and we determine the information pertains to both U.S. citizens and aliens, only information about the aliens can be disclosed.

Department of Justice (DOJ)

To investigate and prosecute violations of the Social Security Act.

Department of Treasury (DOT), Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

For tax administration as defined in section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(H)).

DOT, IRS

Verification of the SSNs of parents for children under age 18 to administer sections of the IRC which grant tax benefits based on support or residence of children (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(H)).

Federal, State, or local agencies

To administer health- and income-maintenance programs. We provide most SSN verifications under data exchange agreements.

Selective Service System (SSS)

To enforce draft registration concerning young men required to register with the SSS. 50 U.S.C. App. 462(e)

State Bureau of Vital Statistics agencies

For use as a primary identifier in administering public health- and income-maintenance programs. For use in statistical research and evaluation projects such as:

  • establishing public immunization registries;

  • ensuring complete birth record registration by matching vital records with neonatal test results;

  • conducting studies of factors contributing to infant mortality by linking birth and death records; and

  • evaluating the efficacy of intervention programs such as Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition programs, “Healthy Start,” or other health maintenance programs.

    NOTE: The disclosure of SSNs is limited to the SSNs of newborns issued via SSA’s Enumeration at Birth program.

Department of Defense (DOD)

To assist in identifying those members of the Armed Forces and military enrollees who are aliens or noncitizen nationals that may qualify for expedited naturalization or citizenship processing in accordance with 8 U.S.C. § 1440 and Executive Order 13269. We provide SSN verifications under a data exchange agreement.

Department of Education

For student loan applicants. We provide SSN verifications under a data exchange agreement.

State and Territory Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) officials

To verify the accuracy of information provided by the State agency, with respect to applications for voter registration for those individuals who do not have a driver’s license number, for whom the last four digits of the SSN are provided in accordance with section 205(r)(8) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(r)(8)). We provide verifications of the last four digits of the SSN under a data exchange agreement.

State MVAs

To issue driver’s licenses and MVA-issued identification cards in accordance with section 205(c)(2)(C)(i) of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(i)). We provide SSN verifications under a data exchange agreement.

2. Verification of SSNs to entities other than Federal, State, or local agencies

The chart below identifies the most common verifications of SSNs to non-governmental entities.

Third Party

Purpose

Employers

To report FICA taxes and State or local Social Security taxes for employees under Section 218 of the Social Security Act, and to correct earnings records.

Foreign countries that are parties to Totalization agreements

To carry out a purpose of an international social security agreement (i.e., Totalization agreement) entered into between the United States and the foreign country under section 233 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 433). These agreements assist in administering the social security programs of countries that are a party to Totalization agreements with SSA.

Natural or adoptive Parent or legal guardian of a person judicially determined to be legally incompetent)

When acting on behalf, or in the best interest, of a minor or incompetent person such as:

  • to prepare a tax return (to claim the minor as a deduction);

  • to open a bank account;

  • to purchase stocks or bonds; or

  • for school identification.

GN 03325.004 Disclosure of Additional Identifying Information When Only the Social Security Number (SSN) is Provided to SSA

There are extremely rare cases in which we may provide identifying information to a requester when the requester provides us with only an SSN. Because of the difficulty in identifying an individual’s SSN record without sufficient identifying information, disclosure of a name to a requester to match an SSN when no other identifying information (or identifiers) is provided is restricted to situations involving serious law enforcement activities or health and safety situations. Refer these cases to the Office of Privacy and Disclosure (OPD), Office of the General Counsel (OGC). Handle all other cases in which the requester provides only an SSN as potential Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act denials.

REMINDER: In cases in which a caller does not know the SSN of record, it is our policy not to disclose the SSN over the telephone. Advise the caller to make the request in writing or in person.

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.

GN 03325.020 Social Security Numbers (SSN) on SSA Mailings

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

A. 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 SSNs of any other individuals when writing to one individual concerning others unless the addressee otherwise has the right to that 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 or beneficiaries for the purpose of associating the reply with the file when it is returned to the field office (FO). Use another means of associating the material, such as an office unit number; and

  • 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 Supplemental Security Income (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 should not include “A's” SSN on the SSA-L4201, and that “A” is filing for SSI benefits.

B. Sending SSNs via email

1. Internal transmission

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

2. External transmission

Sending SSNs or other personally identifiable information via email outside of our network infrastructure that is not encrypted is prohibited except to partners that have a secure email connection with us. Secure partners are listed at http://ois.ssahost.ba.ssa.gov.

GN 03325.025 Requests for Numident Records

A. Policy for requesting the Numident record

Under the Privacy Act, an individual has the right to access any information in our records about him or her, including a copy of Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card) and the Numident record. A Numident is a query display of the information taken from an individual's original application for a Social Security card and subsequent applications for replacement SSN cards.

The only official document verifying an individual's SSN is the SSN card. A third party may ask an individual to obtain a Numident to verify his or her SSN. The third party may also seek valuable personal information contained in the Numident record. While the number holder (NH) is entitled to his or her own Numident record, he or she may be unwittingly disclosing more information than is necessary to verify his or her SSN. Disclosing Numident information unnecessarily to third parties greatly increases the NH's vulnerability to identity theft and SSN fraud. In addition, persons can easily duplicate or alter Numident records.

B. Processing requests for Numident records

Certain third parties may request Numident records without an individual’s consent. The Office of Privacy and Disclosure and regional offices (RO) may disclose Numident records without consent to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as discussed in GN 03313.095A.1. In urgent and sensitive situations only, ROs may authorize a field office to release a full Numident record to a third party without consent, if the request complies with disclosure policies in GN 03300.000.

Central Office (CO) processes routine requests for Numident records, including requests that pertain to deceased individuals. Send the request together with the fee, if applicable, to:

SSA, OEIO FOIA Workgroup
6100 Wabash Avenue
P.O. Box 33022
Baltimore, MD 21290-3022

1. First party requests for Numident records

First party requesters for Numident records must meet the access requirements in

  • GN 03340.015B.2 Requirements to be Met by Individuals Requesting Access

  • GN 03340.025 Providing Access – Parental Rights

  • GN 03340.030 Providing Access – Incompetent Individual’s Rights

2. Third party requests for Numident records

Third party requesters must submit a valid consent document with Numident record requests in accordance with the consent and query procedures in

  • GN 03305.001 Disclosure with Consent

  • GN 03305.004 Disclosing Queries

We provide information about who may consent in GN 03305.005. If the consent document does not meet our requirements, return it to the requester with a written explanation of why we cannot honor the request. We can accept a new consent document from the same requester once the consent document satisfies all of our requirements. Once it does, send the request, together with the fee, to the address listed in this section.

3. Fees for processing requests for Numident records

All requesters must pay the fees we charge for processing requests for Numident records. This includes both first and third party requesters. Do not send a request for Numident records to CO without the correct fee amount. If a request does not include the fee or the fee amount is incorrect, return the request to the requester with a written explanation of why we cannot process it. Once we receive the correct fee amount and the request meets all other requirements, we can process the request. More information about the fees we charge is on our website at www.ssa.gov/foia/request.html.

C. Numident record status requests

We process requests for Numident records on a first come basis. It can take 30 days or longer to process a request. After waiting the initial 30-day period, a requester may contact us for the status of his or her request. To process a request for status, after the initial 30-day waiting period, use the following steps:

  1. Obtain enough information to locate the request and the name and telephone number of the requester. Advise the requester that someone will contact him or her to provide the status within five business days.

  2. Contact the FOIA Workgroup at (410) 966-4034 and request they contact the requester directly to provide the status. If necessary, leave a message and provide all pertinent information related to the request.

D. Field Office (FO) instructions for SSN printout requests

Effective August 1, 2014, we discontinued providing manual SSN printouts and verifications to claimants and third parties. Manual verification requests in emergency situations are processed via the local Point of Contact.

1. For individuals requesting an SSN Printout:

Inform the NH we no longer provide SSN printouts and advise him or her to apply for a replacement card.

NOTE: Individuals living in an area where SSA invoked disaster procedures are still eligible to receive an SSN Printout. For more information regarding requests for SSN Printouts, see RM 10225.005.

2. For agencies requesting an SSN Printout

For SSN verification requests from agencies administering emergency services in disaster situations and in cases of hardship where an existing data exchange does not exist or meet the need, FOs should follow the process described in this section.

3. For law enforcement agencies requesting an SSN Printout

Although we no longer provide SSN Printouts, you should still follow current policy to address requests from law enforcement in GN 03312.000. If the request meets the requirements for disclosure, you may still verify the SSN (without using the SSN Printout).

E. Instructions for first party SSN verifications in emergency situations

For SSN verifications during emergency situations or in cases of hardship, follow the process in this section:

  • If a third party (a local or State agency) sends an individual to the FO to obtain verification of his/her SSN, assist the individual in applying for a replacement SSN card with the appropriate required evidence. For more information on these requirements, see RM 10210.015. Upon request, you may provide verbal verification of the SSN to the replacement card applicant.

  • If the individual states the third party sent them to the FO to obtain verification of his or her SSN, obtain written consent from the individual (Form-SSA-3288).

    Inform the individual that we will contact the requesting third party to provide verbal verification of his or her SSN.

  • Refer the individual’s name, SSN, signed SSA-3288, and third party contact information to your regional Privacy Act Coordinator (PAC).
    NOTE: Individuals living in an area where SSA invoked disaster procedures are still eligible to receive an SSN printout. For more information on these procedures, see GN 00401.001.

    FOs may also contact their regional PAC for further assistance with verbal third party SSN verifications. This includes cases of hardship where an existing data exchange does not exist or meet the need.

F. Instructions for third party SSN verifications in emergency situations

When the FO receives a referral from a third party, employees should:

  • review the SSA-3288 to ensure that all required fields are complete and include the necessary third party information;

  • retain a copy of the signed SSA-3288 to ensure a record of the individual’s consent;

  • contact the designated third party (within the same business day if possible);

  • confirm that individual you are speaking to is the designated third party and authorized to receive the SSN verbal verification (e.g., name of organization, EIN, or other requirements. For more information on identity requirements, see GN 03380.010.

  • ask the third party to provide a sufficient explanation (at management’s discretion) of the emergency or hardship need;

  • explain that we can only inform him or her if the information provided agrees with our records (we will not disclose the SSN to the third party); and

  • provide a verbal “yes” or “no” response for verification of the SSN.

The regional Data Exchange Coordinator, regional Communications Director, regional PAC, and local managers will work with local third parties to establish a long-term process to eliminate the third party’s need for a verbal SSN verification. This may include:

  • The regional Data Exchange Coordinator, regional Communications Director, regional PAC, and local managers will work with local third parties to establish a long-term process to eliminate the third party’s need for a verbal SSN verification. This may include:

  • accepting the Beneficiary Verification (BEVE) provided by the individual (obtained online or by phone); or

  • waiting until the individual receives the SSN replacement card.

G. Instructions for SSN verifications in non-emergency situations

When we receive a request to verify an SSN in a non-emergency situation, employees should:

  • review the SSA-3288 or submitted consent to ensure that all required fields are complete and include the necessary third party information (Box 1, “Verification of Social Security Number” should be checked);

  • verify the identifying information on the form against our records;

  • stamp the FO address on the original and annotate “Information provided matches our records” or “Information provided did not match our records;” and

  • retain a copy of the signed SSA-3288 or valid consent, with the annotated response, to ensure record of the individual’s consent and the agency’s response.

NOTE: You do not need to annotate the SSA-3288 or valid consent if we provide another record in our response that displays the SSN.



GN 03325 TN 05 - Disclosure and Verification of Social Security Numbers (SSN) - 05/30/2018