TN 7 (04-19)

GN 03340.070 Special Messages on the MBR and SSR Prohibiting Access and Disclosure

The use of a password, security code, or security phrase began as an effort to respond to beneficiaries’ and recipients’ concerns about the security of their Social Security record information. We received numerous requests to place a password, security code, or phrase (e.g., “ice cream; this is the doctor; or security 123”) in the special message field of the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) or Supplemental Security Record (SSR) to prohibit access or disclosure to a claimant’s personal information. We no longer use the MBR and SSR special message fields for this purpose. This subchapter describes the limited instances when it is appropriate to add a special message to the MBR or SSR.

A. Procedure for adding special message to the MBR or SSR

Although employees can no longer place a password, security code or phrase provided by a claimant on the MBR or SSR, there may be situations where a claimant or a field office (FO) determines, in consultation with the claimant, that the claimant must conduct all business with us in person. Only the FO may add a special message to the MBR or SSR to alert offices and the 800# representatives of situations regarding:

  • Harrassment, Abuse, or Life Endangerment (HALE), including instances of domestic violence;

  • Unauthorized record changes or fraudulent reports; or

  • Allegations of identity theft.

The special message should inform offices that the individual who is the subject of the record wants to conduct business with us only in person and the FO must conduct a face-to-face interview with the individual with proof of identity prior to granting the individual access to their records or making changes to their records.

For records that contain a special message:

  • Do not release information by telephone;

  • Do not respond to a telephone inquiry by sending mail to the address of record; and

  • Do not change information on the record based on the telephone contact.

FOs should exercise extreme care in determining when it is appropriate to place a special message on an individual’s record. Add a special message only when the individual insists and the situation warrants such a message, or the FO determines that a face-to-face interview is necessary, and we have obtained the subject of record’s signed documentation requesting in person contact for all business with the agency.

Scan the signed documentation into Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Document or eView, as appropriate.

This guidance does not apply to:

  • The routine use disclosures we make to third parties, without consent, under the Privacy Act (e.g., disclosures to federal and state agencies to establish entitlement to health and income-maintenance programs); or

  • The electronic service initiatives that permit individuals to use a password to conduct business with us online or through the 800# Automated Response System.

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GN 03340.070 - Special Messages on the MBR and SSR Prohibiting Access and Disclosure - 04/26/2019
Batch run: 04/26/2019