Guide to the FOIA

The FOIA allows members of the public to request records from Federal agencies. At the Social Security Administration (SSA), we are committed to promoting transparency and openness in government while balancing the need to protect certain information from release.

From the left-side menu, learn more about how the FOIA is processed at SSA at our “The FOIA at SSA” page and our FOIA data on our “Reports” page. To make a FOIA request for agency records and learn about the fees, go to our “Make a FOIA Request” page. To learn about the agency’s Privacy Program, go to our “Protecting Your Privacy” page. Click the arrows below for information on our most popular topics.

Search SSA's Available Records

The FOIA does not require SSA to provide records in response to a FOIA request when the information requested is already publicly available. Please review information the agency provides throughout ssa.gov, such as:

Visit our Open Government portal for datasets and information to help answer your questions about our programs and operations.

Need your own record or the record of another living person?

Your Own Record
To request information from your own file, please visit your local Social Security office. Your local office has jurisdiction over the records necessary to process your request. When you visit the office, please bring proper identification.

Original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5)/Numident Record (computer extract of the SS-5) – If you are seeking a copy of your original SS-5 or Numident, we need you to provide the following information: Name; Address; Signature; Social Security number; and a signed statement that you are the individual to whom the record pertains and you understand there are criminal penalties for making a knowing and willful request for access to records concerning another individual under false pretenses.

You may submit your request using Form SSA-L996. Please submit your request with payment to: Social Security Administration (SSA), OEIO, FOIA Workgroup, 6100 Wabash Ave, P.O. Box 33022, Baltimore, MD 21290-3022. The fee for a copy of the SS-5 is $21.00. The fee for a copy of the Numident is $20.00. We will not process your request without exact payment. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Diner’s Club. To pay by credit card, complete and sign the SSA-714. Be sure to include your credit card number and expiration date. We also accept checks or money orders payable to SSA.

Request for Someone Else’s Records

The Social Security Act prohibits the disclosure of any file, record, report, or other information concerning a person obtained by SSA employees in the course of their duties, except as otherwise provided by Federal law and regulations. 42 U.S.C. § 1306.

If you are seeking SSA program records about a living individual, you must have the individual complete the Form SSA-3288 available at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-3288.pdf or complete a consent that complies with our regulation at 20 C.F.R. § 401.100 to request the individual’s records. If you obtain proper authorization, you may request this information from the individual’s local Social Security office. Please visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator to locate the individual’s local office.

Original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5)/Numident Record (computer extract of the SS-5) – If you are seeking a copy of a living individuals’ original SS-5 or Numident, we need you to provide proper authorization. Please have the number holder complete the SSA-3288. Please send your request with payment and proper authorization to Social Security Administration (SSA), OEIO, FOIA Workgroup, 6100 Wabash Ave, P.O. Box 33022, Baltimore, MD 21290-3022.

The fee for a copy of the SS-5 is $21.00. The fee for a copy of the Numident is $20.00. We will not process your request without exact payment. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Diner’s Club. To pay by credit card, complete and sign the SSA-714. Be sure to include your credit card number and expiration date. We also accept checks or money orders payable to SSA.

SSA Employee Records

If you are seeking the records of a current SSA employee (regarding payroll, performance, leave, etc.), you should have the employee complete Form SSA-3465 and advise the employee to submit the form to his or her supervisor. When an employee resigns, retires, transfers, or otherwise terminates employment with SSA, Form SSA-3465 should be mailed to SSA’s Office of the General Counsel, Office of Privacy and Disclosure at 6401 Security Boulevard, West High Rise, Room G-401, Baltimore, Maryland 21235.

Earnings Records - If you are seeking a living or deceased individual’s earnings records, please follow the instructions to complete Form SSA-7050-F4 available at: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-7050.pdf and mail it to the address on the form along with the applicable fee and other evidentiary documents, as required.

Records Needed for a Social Security Benefit Application
If you need your records regarding your claim for Social Security benefits, or if you are a representative of someone pursuing a claim for Social Security benefits, send your request to your local Social Security office.

Learn more about SSA's commitment to Privacy

Searching for a deceased person’s records?

Earnings Records - If you are seeking a deceased person’s earnings records, please follow the instructions to complete Form SSA-7050-F4 available at: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-7050.pdf and mail it to the address on the form along with the applicable fee and other evidentiary documents, as required.

Original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) and/or Numident – Please view the instructions available at “Request a copy of Deceased Person’s Original Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) or Numident Record”

Claim File - To request a copy of a deceased person’s claim file, please visit your local office. Please be aware that we ordinarily destroy claim files several years after the final decision on the claim. Sometimes we can recall a claim file from our program service center or a Federal Records Center. Documents in a claim file may include applications for benefits, military records, marriage records, and birth and death records. However, information about living individuals found in the claim file will be deleted. The field office will determine the applicable fees.

What records are generally not released?

The FOIA does not require agencies to disclose all records. Some examples of records we may not disclose are:

  • Classified records;
  • Information that is confidential by law;
  • Internal personnel rules;
  • Personal information about living people;
  • Records of investigations; or
  • Trade secrets or confidential financial information.