TN 47 (12-23)

RM 10210.001 History of SSN Evidence Requirements

Until the 1970s, SSA assigned Social Security Numbers (SSNs) based on the applicant's allegations about identifying information without requiring corroborative evidence.

Over time, the SSN has increasingly been used as a multi-purpose identifier by government, business, and other organizations. This has resulted in greater misuse of the SSN and related fraud.

Congress legislated evidence requirements for SSN assignment because of concerns about illegal aliens working, as well as SSN fraud and abuse of public entitlement programs. In response to concerns about the integrity of the SSN, SSA implemented changes in policy and procedures to add requirements for the assignment of SSNs.

The following chart lists the changes in SSN evidence requirements with the effective dates.





The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), P.L. 108-458 imposed changes in the evidence used for SSN applications and sets limits on the number of replacement cards an individual may receive.


Effective 12/17/05:


  • SSA verifies birth records for all U.S.-born individuals requesting an original SSN (except for those who obtain an original SSN through the Enumeration-at-Birth (EAB) process). Additionally, SSA verifies birth records for U.S.-born applicants (non-claimants) who want to change the date of birth (DOB) on the Numident.

  • Applicants for replacement cards beyond the 3-card yearly or 10-card lifetime limits need to provide evidence to establish that a valid exception to the limits applies in order to receive a card.

  • Acceptable evidence of identity revised; there are new guidelines for evaluating these documents and how to determine their acceptability for SSA purposes. In addition, the evidence of identity must show the applicant’s legal name. In name change situations, the applicant must submit the name change document (the document that shows the name change event).


Effective October 13, 2004, F-1 foreign students who do not have an employment authorization document from the Department of Homeland Security and are not authorized for curricular practical training (CPT), as shown on the student’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status, are no longer presumed to have authority to work, without additional evidence. Before SSA assigns an SSN that is valid for work in such cases, the F-1 student must provide evidence that they have been authorized by the school to work and has secured employment.


In-person interviews are required of all applicants, age 12 or older, applying for original SSN cards.


Evidence of identity is required of all applicants regardless of age.


A valid non-work reason is defined as a Federal statute requiring an SSN to receive a benefit or a State or local statute requiring an SSN to receive a public assistance benefit. (SSNs are no longer assigned for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver's license.)


SSA began verifying all immigration documents for all aliens requesting original or new SSNs, or replacement SSN cards.


SSA began verifying birth records for all U.S.-born individuals, age one or older, requesting original SSNs or when changing the DOB on the Numident record


Valid non-work reason is defined as a Federal, State, or local statute or regulation requiring an SSN for the individual to obtain a benefit or service.


All applicants are required to provide evidence of:


  • Age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status for original SSNs; and

  • Identity for replacement SSN cards.


In-person interviews are required for individuals age 18 or over applying for original or new SSN cards.


An individual signing the SS-5 on behalf of another (e.g., a parent for their child) must establish their own identity.


NOTE: From 1982 to July 1988, to ease the evidentiary follow-up burden on FOs, SSA relaxed this policy by requiring identity documentation for the individual filing on behalf of another only when the SS-5 was filed in person.


SSA began requiring evidence of age, identity, and citizenship or alien status from applicants for original SSNs who were either foreign-born or U.S.-born and age 18 or older.


Legislation amended Section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act to require evidence to establish age, true identity, and citizenship or alien status from SSN applicants.


Evidence of identity required for applicants, age 55 or older, applying for original SSNs.


SSNs assigned based on the applicant's allegations.

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RM 10210.001 - History of SSN Evidence Requirements - 12/28/2023
Batch run: 01/30/2024