Report to Congress on Options for Enhancing the Social Security Card
Appendix A: LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE
REQUIRES SSA TO:
Develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card:
1. Made of durable, tamper-resistant material, such as plastic or polyester;
2. Employ technologies that provide security features, such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated circuits; and
3. Be developed to provide individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.
Study and report:
On different methods of improving the Social Security card application process including:
1. An evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-, and 10-year period.
2. An evaluation of the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and original cards prior to the scheduled 3-, 5-, and 10-year phase-in options.
Immigration Reform also requires the General Accounting Office to study and report on the above.
H.R.3734 As finally approved by the House and Senate (Enrolled) -- P.L. 104-193 ----------------------------------------
SEC. 111. DEVELOPMENT OF PROTOTYPE OF COUNTERFEIT-RESISTANT SOCIAL SECURITY CARD REQUIRED.
(1) In general.--The Commissioner of Social Security (in this section referred to as the "Commissioner") shall, in accordance with this section, develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant social security card. Such prototype card shall--
(A) be made of a durable, tamper-resistant material such as plastic or polyester;
(B) employ technologies that provide security features, such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated circuits; and
(C) be developed so as to provide individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.
(2) Assistance by Attorney General.--The Attorney General of the United States shall provide such information and assistance as the Commissioner deems necessary to enable the Commissioner to comply with this section.
(b) Study and Report.--
(1) In general.--The Commissioner shall conduct a study and issue a report to Congress which examines different methods of improving the social security card application process.
(2) Elements of study.--The study shall include an evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-, and 10-year period. The study shall also evaluate the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and cards issued to individuals who apply for such a card prior to the scheduled 3-, 5-, and 10-year phase-in options.
(3) Distribution of report.--The Commissioner shall submit copies of the report described in this subsection along with a facsimile of the prototype card as described in subsection (a) to the Committees on Ways and Means and Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committees on Finance and Judiciary of the Senate within 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
H.R.3610 As finally approved by the House and Senate (Enrolled) -- P.L. 104-208 ----------------------------------------
SEC. 657. DEVELOPMENT OF PROTOTYPE OF COUNTERFEIT-RESISTANT SOCIAL SECURITY CARD.
42 USC 405 note.
(1) In general.--The Commissioner of Social Security (in this section referred to as the "Commissioner") shall, in accordance with the provisions of this section, develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card. Such prototype card--
(A) shall be made of a durable, tamper-resistant material such as plastic or polyester;
(B) shall employ technologies that provide security features, such as magnetic stripes, holograms, and integrated circuits; and
(C) shall be developed so as to provide individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.
(2) Assistance by Attorney General.--The Attorney General shall provide such information and assistance as the Commissioner deems necessary to achieve the purposes of this section.
(b) Studies and Reports.--
(1) In general.--The Comptroller General and the Commissioner of Social Security shall each conduct a study, and issue a report to the Congress, that examines different methods of improving the Social Security card application process.
(2) Elements of studies.--The studies shall include evaluations of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-, and 10-year period.
The studies shall also evaluate the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and cards issued to individuals who apply for such a card prior to the scheduled 3-, 5-, and 10-year phase-in options.
(3) Distribution of reports.--Copies of the reports described in this subsection, along with facsimiles of the prototype cards as described in subsection (a), shall be submitted to the Committees on Ways and Means and Judiciary of the House of Representatives and the Committees on Finance and Judiciary of the Senate not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act.
Appendix B: CHRONOLOGY OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN)/CARD EVENTS
1935 The Social Security Act (P.L. 74-271) enacted. It did not expressly mention the use of SSNs, but it authorized the creation of some type of record-keeping scheme. Additionally, the Act provided that the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall make and publish rules and regulations to enforce the Act.
Treasury Decision 4704, a Treasury regulation in 1936 which required the issuance of an account number to each employee covered by the Social Security program.
The Social Security Board considered various numbering systems and ways (such as metal tags, etc.) by which employees could indicate they had been issued a number.
1936- Approximately 30 million applications for SSNs were processed between
1937 November 1936 and June 30, 1937.
1943 Executive Order 9397 (3 CFR (1943-1948 Comp.) 283-284) (1943) issued by President Roosevelt required:
- All Federal components to use the SSN "exclusively" whenever the component found it advisable to set up a new identification system for individuals.
- The Social Security Board to cooperate with Federal uses of the number by issuing and verifying numbers for other Federal agencies.
1961 The Civil Service Commission adopted the SSN as an official Federal employee identifier.
Internal Revenue Code Amendments (P.L. 87-397) required each taxpayer to furnish identifying number for tax reporting.
1962 The Internal Revenue Service adopted the SSN as its official taxpayer identification number.
1964 Treasury Department, via internal policy, required buyers of series H savings bonds to provide their SSNs.
1965 Internal Revenue Amendments (P.L. 89-384) Medicare enacted. It became necessary for most individuals age 65 and older to have an SSN.
1966 The Veterans Administration began to use the SSN as the hospital admissions number and for patient record-keeping.
1967 The Department of Defense, by a Secretary of Defense memorandum, adopted the SSN in lieu of the military service number for identifying Armed Forces personnel.
1970 Bank Records and Foreign Transactions Act (P.L. 91-508) required all banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions and brokers/dealers in securities to obtain the SSNs of all of their customers. Also, financial institutions were required to file a report with the IRS, including the SSN of the customer, of each deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency or other payment or transfer involving more than $10,000.
1971 SSA task force published a report on issues raised by nonprogram SSN use which proposed that SSA take a "cautious and conservative" position toward SSN use and do nothing to promote the use of the SSN as an identifier. The report recommended that SSA:
- Use mass SSN enumeration in schools as a long-range, cost-effective approach to tightening up the SSN system, and
- Consider cooperating with specific health, education and welfare uses of the SSN by State, local, and other nonprofit organizations.
1972 Social Security Amendments of 1972 (P.L. 92-603):
- Required SSA to issue SSNs to all legally admitted aliens at entry and to anyone receiving or applying for any benefit paid for by Federal funds;
- Required SSA to obtain evidence to establish age, citizenship, or alien status and identity.
- Authorized SSA to enumerate children below school age at the request of parents and at the time they first entered school.
1973 Buyers of series E savings bonds are required by the Treasury Department to provide their SSNs.
1973 Report of the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW; now Health and Human Services (HHS)) Secretary's Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data System concluded that the adoption of a universal identifier by this country was not desirable; also found that the SSN was not suitable for such a purpose as it does not meet the criteria of a universal identifier that distinguishes a person from all others.
1974 Privacy Act (P.L. 93-579) enacted effective September 27, 1975 to limit governmental use of the SSN:
- Provided that no State or local government agency may withhold a benefit from a person simply because the individual refuses to furnish his or her SSN.
- Required that Federal, State and local agencies which request an individual to disclose his/her SSN inform the individual if disclosure was mandatory or voluntary. (This was the first mention of SSN use by local governments.)
1975 Social Services Amendments of 1974 (P.L. 93-647) provided that:
- Disclosure of an individual's SSN as a condition of eligibility for Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC, now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)) benefits; and
- Office of Child Support Enforcement Parent Locator Service may require disclosure of limited information (including SSN and whereabouts) contained in SSA records.
1976 Tax Reform Act of 1976 (P.L. 94-455) included the following amendments to the Social Security Act:
- Authorized SSN use by the States in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, drivers license or motor vehicle registration law within their jurisdiction and to authorize the States to require individuals affected by such laws to furnish their SSNs to the States;
- Made misuse of the SSN for any purpose a violation of the Social Security Act; and
- Made disclosure or compelling disclosure of the SSN of any person a violation of the Social Security Act.
- Amended 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to provide that the SSN be used as the tax identification number for all tax purposes. While the Treasury Department had been using the SSN as the tax identification number by regulation since 1962, this law codifies that requirement.
1976 Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification recommended that penalties for misuse be increased and evidence requirements tightened; rejected the idea of national identifier and did not even consider the SSN for such a purpose.
1977 Food Stamp Act of 1977 (P.L. 96-58) required disclosure of SSNs of all household members as a condition of eligibility for participation in the Food Stamp program.
Privacy Protection Study Commission recommended that:
- No steps be taken towards developing standard, universal labels for individuals until safeguards and policies regarding permissible uses and disclosures were proven effective; and
- Executive Order 9397 be amended so that Federal agencies could no longer use it as legal authority to require disclosure of an individual's SSN. (No action taken.)
The Carter Administration proposed that the Social Security card be one of the authorized documents by which an employer could be assured that a job applicant could work in this country but also stated that the SSN card should not become a national identity document.
1978 SSA began to require evidence of age, citizenship, and identity of all SSN applicants.
1981 The Reagan Administration stated that it "is explicitly opposed to the creation of a national identity card" but recognized the need for a means for employers to comply with the employer sanctions provisions of its immigration reform legislation.
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 (P.L. 97-35) required the disclosure of the SSNs of all adult members in the household of children applying for the school lunch program.
1981 Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981--Social Security Benefits Act (P.L. 97-123)
- Section 4 added alteration and forgery of a Social Security card to the list of prohibited acts and increased the penalties for such acts.
- Section 6 required any Federal, State or local government agency to furnish the name and SSN of prisoners convicted of a felony to the Secretary of HHS, upon written request, to enforce suspension of disability benefits to certain imprisoned felons.
1981 Department of Defense Authorization Act, 1982 (P.L. 97-86) required disclosure of the SSNs to the Selective Service System of all individuals required to register for the draft. It also required the Secretary of HHS to provide the Director of Selective Service the names, dates of birth, addresses and SSNs of individuals required to register for the purpose of enforcing the Military Selective Service Act.
1982 Debt Collection Act of 1982 (P.L. 97-365) required that all applicants for loans under any Federal loan program furnish their SSNs to the agency supplying the loan.
All Social Security cards issued to legal aliens not authorized to work within the United States were annotated "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT" beginning in May.
1983 Social Security Amendments of 1983 (P.L. 98-21) required that new and replacement Social Security cards issued after October 30 be made of banknote paper and (to the maximum extent practicable) not be subject to counterfeiting.
The Interest and Dividend Tax Compliance Act (P.L. 98-67):
- Required SSNs for all interest-bearing accounts.
- Provided for a penalty of $50 for all individuals who fail to furnish a correct tax identification number (usually the SSN).
1984 Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (P.L. 98-369)
- Amended the Social Security Act to establish an income and eligibility verification system involving State agencies administering the AFDC, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, the Food Stamp programs, and State programs under a plan approved under title I, X, XIV, or XVI of the Act. States were permitted to require the SSN as a condition of eligibility for benefits under any of these programs.
- Amended Section 6050(I) of the IRC to require that persons engaged in a trade or business file a report (including SSNs) with the IRS for cash transactions over $10,000.
- Amended Section 215 of the IRC to authorize the Secretary of HHS to publish regulations that require a spouse paying alimony to furnish IRS with the taxpayer identification number (i.e., SSN) of the spouse receiving alimony payments.
1986 The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-603):
- Required the Comptroller General to investigate technological changes that could reduce the potential for counterfeiting Social Security cards;
- Provides that the Social Security card may be used to establish the eligibility of a prospective employee for employment; and
- Required the Secretary of HHS to undertake a study of the feasibility and costs of establishing an SSN verification system.
Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514) required individuals filing a tax return due after December 31, 1987, to include the taxpayer identification number (TIN)-- usually the SSN--of each dependent age 5 or older.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-750) authorized the Secretary of Transportation to require an SSN on commercial motor vehicle operators' licenses.
Higher Education Amendments of 1986 (P.L. 99-498) required that student loan applicants submit their SSN as a condition for eligibility.
1987 SSA initiated a demonstration project on August 17 in the State of New Mexico enabling parents to obtain SSNs for their newborn infants automatically when the infant's birth is registered by the State. The program was expanded nationwide beginning in 1989. Currently, all 50 States participate in the "Enumeration at Birth" program, as well as New York City, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
1988 Housing and Community Development Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-242)
- Authorized the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require disclosure of a person's SSN as a condition of eligibility for any HUD program.
Family Support Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-485):
- Section 125 required, beginning November 1, 1990, a State to obtain the SSNs of the parents when issuing a birth certificate.
- Section 704(a) required individuals filing a tax return due after December 31, 1989, to include the taxpayer identification number--usually the SSN--of each dependent age 2 or older.
1988 Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-647):
- Authorized a State and/or any blood donation facility to use SSNs to identify blood donors (205(c)(2)(F)).
- Required that all title II beneficiaries either have or have applied for an SSN in order to receive benefits. This provision became effective with dates of initial entitlement of June 1989 or later. Beneficiaries who refused enumeration were entitled but placed in suspense.
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-690) deleted the $5,000 and $25,000 upper limits on fines that could be imposed for violations of section 208 of the Social Security Act. The general limit of $250,000 for felonies in the U.S. Code now applied to SSN violations under section 208 of the Social Security Act. Also, penalties for misuse of SSNs apply as well in cases where the number was referred to by any other name (e.g., taxpayer identification number).
1989 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-239) required that the National Student Loan Data System include, among other things, the names and SSNs of borrowers.
Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-147) required the member of the household who applies for the school lunch program to provide the SSN of the parent of the child for whom the application is made.
1990 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508)
- Section 7201 (Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Amendments of 1990) provided that no adverse action may be taken against an individual receiving benefits as a result of a matching program without verification of the information or notification of the individual regarding the findings with time to contest.
- Section 8053 required an SSN for eligibility for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Section 11112 required that individuals filing a tax return due after December 31, 1991, include the TIN of each dependent age 1 or older.
Food and Agricultural Resources Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624)--Section 1735:
- Required an SSN for the officers of food and retail stores that redeem Food Stamps.
- Provided that SSNs maintained as a result of any law enacted on or after October 1, 1990, be confidential and not be disclosed.
1994 Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-296):
- Section 304, authorized the use of the SSN for jury selection.
- Section 314 authorized cross matching of SSNs and Employer Identification Numbers maintained by the Department of Agriculture with other Federal agencies for the purpose of investigating both Food Stamp fraud and violations of other Federal laws.
- Section 318 authorized the use of the SSN by the Department of Labor in administration of Federal workers' compensation laws.
Uruguay Round Agreement Act (P.L. 103-465) generally required that individuals include the TIN of each dependent regardless of age beginning with tax returns filed after December 31, 1994.
1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) (Welfare Reform):
- Section 111 required the Commissioner of Social Security to develop and submit to Congress a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card that: is made of durable, tamper-resistant material (e.g., plastic); employs technologies that provide security features (e.g., magnetic stripe); and provides individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.
- Section 111 also required the Commissioner of Social Security to study and report to Congress on different methods of improving the Social Security card application process, including evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals and evaluation of the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards.
- Section 316 required HHS to transmit to SSA, for verification purposes, certain information about individuals and employers maintained under the Federal Parent Locator Service in an automated directory. SSA is required to verify the accuracy of, correct, or supply to the extent possible, and report to HHS the name, SSN, and birth date of individuals and the employer identification number of employers. SSA is to be reimbursed by HHS for the cost of this verification service.
- Section 317 provided that State child support enforcement procedures require the SSN of any applicant for a professional license, commercial drivers license, occupational license, or marriage license be recorded on the application. The SSN of any person subject to a divorce decree, support order, or paternity determination or acknowledgment would have to be placed in the pertinent records. SSNs are required on death certificates.
- Section 451 provided that, in order to be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, an individual must include on his or her tax return an SSN which was not assigned for nonwork purposes.
1996 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1997 (P.L. 104-208) (Division C--Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996) (Immigration Reform):
- Sections 401-404 provide for 3 specific employment verification pilot programs in which employers would voluntarily participate. In general, the pilot programs would allow an employer to confirm the identity and employment eligibility of the individual. SSA and INS would provide a secondary verification process to confirm the validity of the information provided. SSA would compare the name and SSN provided and advise whether the name and number match SSA records and whether the SSN is valid for employment.
- Section 414 required the Commissioner of Social Security to report to Congress every year the aggregate number of SSNs issued to noncitizens not authorized to work, but under which earnings were reported. Also required the Commissioner of Social Security to transmit to the Attorney General a report on the extent to which SSNs and Social Security cards are used by noncitizens for fraudulent purposes.
- Section 415 authorized the Attorney General to require any noncitizen to provide his or her SSN for purposes of inclusion in any record maintained by the Attorney General or INS.
- Section 656 provided for improvements in identification-related documents; i.e., birth certificates and drivers licenses. These sections require publication of regulations which set uniform standards, including security features, and, in the case of drivers licenses, require that an SSN appear on the license. Federal agencies are precluded from accepting as proof of identity documents which do not meet the regulatory standards.
- Section 657 provided for the development of a prototype Social Security card. The requirements are the same as in Section 111 of the Welfare reform legislation (described above) with the exception that the Comptroller General is also to study and report to Congress on different methods of improving the Social Security card application process.
1997 Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-34)
- Section 1090 requires an applicant for an SSN under age 18 to provide evidence of his or her parents' names and SSNs in addition to required evidence of age, identity, and citizenship.
Appendix C: RECENT LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
H.R. 4354 (Gallo, R-NJ) introduced on May 5, 1994
- Would prohibit the buying and selling of SSNs.
H.R. 3919 (Blute, R-MA) introduced on February 28, 1994
- Would restrict the use of SSNs to purposes related to Social Security and other social services.
H.R. 4299 (Franks, R-NJ) introduced on September 28, 1996
- Would regulate the use by interactive computer services of SSNs and related personally identifiable information.
S. 600 (Feinstein D-CA) introduced April 16, 1997
- Would prohibit credit bureaus from disseminating SSNs, unlisted telephone numbers, dates of birth, past addresses, and mothers' maiden names without written consent of individuals, with the exception of information listed in local telephone directories.
- Would prohibit State departments of motor vehicles from disseminating SSNs for bulk distribution for surveys, marketing, or solicitations. The bill would also require the use of SSNs by State motor vehicle departments to be consistent with uses authorized by the Social Security Act and by other statutes explicitly authorizing their use.
H.R. 1330 (Kanjorski D-PA) introduced on April 15, 1997
- Would prohibit Federal officers and employees from providing Social Security account statement information, personal earnings and benefit estimate statement information, or tax return information of an individual through the Internet or without the written consent of the individual.
H.R. 231 (McCollum, R-FL) introduced on January 7, 1997
- Would require the Commissioner to improve the physical design, technical specifications, and materials of the Social Security card as are necessary to ensure that it is a genuine official document and that it offers the best possible security against counterfeiting, forgery, alteration, and misuse. The card would be as secure against counterfeiting as the 100 dollar bill with a rate of counterfeit detection comparable to the 100 dollar bill, and as secure against fraudulent use as a U.S. passport. Such cards are to be issued after January 1, 2000, whether new or replacement. Beginning January 1, 2006, the secure Social Security card would be the only Social Security card that could be used for work authorization, unless it contains the notation that it does not authorize employment. The bill makes it clear that this is not to be construed as establishing a national identification card. No costs are to be paid for out of trust funds.
H.R. 224 (McCollum R-FL) introduced on January 7, 1997
- Would require individuals registering to vote in Federal elections to provide their SSN and permit a State to remove from the list of eligible voters a registrant who does not vote in 2 consecutive Federal general elections.
H.R. 1428 (Horn R-CA) introduced on April 24, 1997
- Would require the Attorney General and SSA to establish a system to verify the citizenship of voter registration applicants using SSA records.
Appendix D: DESCRIPTION OF TYPES OF SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS
- Prior to May 15, 1978, all cards were issued based on information alleged without any evidence--all were unrestricted cards.
- After May 15, 1978, cards were issued only with evidence of age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or noncitizen status.
- U.S. citizens-unrestricted cards.
- Noncitizens lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence-unrestricted cards.
- Noncitizens lawfully in the U.S. with authority to work.
Prior to September 14, 1992, noncitizens were issued unrestricted cards. (Noncitizens who overstayed period granted by INS, can still work; employer has no reason to check the INS document for continuing lawful noncitizen status.)
Since September 14, 1992, some noncitizens were issued cards with legend, "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION" (Employer must use INS document to determine a noncitizen's employment eligibility.)
- Any person receiving benefits under any program financed in whole or in part from federal funds.
Prior to mid-1982, such individuals were issued unrestricted cards. (Employer has no reason to check the INS document for lawful noncitizen status.)
Since mid-1982, undocumented noncitizen individuals in this group have been issued cards with legend, "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT."
- Noncitizens lawfully in the U.S. who do not have authorization to work but who need SSNs for valid nonwork purposes.
Prior to mid-1982, unrestricted cards were issued. (Employer accepts the card as evidence of employment eligibility.)
Since mid 1982, noncitizens were issued cards with legend, "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT."
- Certain noncitizens residing outside the U.S. (e.g., dependents listed on U.S. income tax returns, people entitled to Social Security auxiliary or survivor's benefits).
Prior to mid-1982, unrestricted cards were issued. (Employer accepts the card as evidence of employment eligibility.)
Since mid-1982, noncitizens were issued cards with legend, "NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT."
Appendix E: DESCRIPTION OF THE ENUMERATION PROCESS
- People can apply for an original SSN at approximately 1,300 Social Security offices in the U.S. An applicant must submit an application (Form SS-5-FS) and evidence of age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or noncitizen status. In addition, if an applicant is not a U.S. citizen and does not have INS documentation authorizing him/her to work in the U.S., he/she must have a valid nonwork reason for needing the SSN. A valid nonwork reason is a Federal, State or local government statute or regulation that requires the person to have an SSN to get the benefit or service. SSA requires evidence to document that the noncitizen meets all of the requirements to get the benefit or service except for having an SSN. The State or local statute that requires the SSN must be in accordance with Federal law.
- All applicants (U.S. citizens and aliens) age 18 or over, applying for original SSNs must apply in person and be interviewed by a field office (FO) employee. Applicants for original SSNs who are under age 18 or applicants for replacement cards may apply in person or by mail. However, noncitizens are advised to bring their INS documents to the FO rather than mail them.
- Generally, SSNs are not assigned to people living outside the U.S. unless they are U.S. citizens or residents. However, a nonresident noncitizen who establishes a valid nonwork reason for an SSN may be assigned an SSN. In reality, the only such nonwork reason would be for payment of Social Security Title II benefits as a survivor or dependent. Applications from qualified people living outside the U.S. are taken by U.S. foreign service posts and forwarded to SSA's Office of International Operations (OIO) for processing.
- SSNs are assigned centrally at SSA's Baltimore Headquarters based on data keyed from the various FOs and OIO. Before an FO submits an SSN application for electronic processing, certain pieces of information about the SSN applicant must be obtained. The essential pieces of information are: the applicant's full name, date and place of birth, sex, mother's maiden name and father's name. These data elements are used to electronically screen SSA's data base for an SSN which may have been previously assigned to the applicant. This electronic screening process helps to prevent the issuance of more than one SSN to a number holder. If no match can be located on SSA's files for the applicant, an original SSN is assigned by computer and a new SSN card is mailed to the applicant. If there is a significant match on enough data elements, a replacement SSN card is issued to the number holder and SSA's records are updated.
- An SSN is assigned within 24 hours of the date the SSN application is processed into the system, assuming there were no questions about the keyed data. Depending on the mail delivery, it usually takes 7 to 10 days for the applicant to receive the card.
ENUMERATION AT BIRTH PROCESS
Implemented in 1989, Enumeration at Birth (EAB) is a program where SSA assigns an SSN and issues a Social Security card to an infant, with the parent's approval, as part of the birth registration process through the States.
- When a hospital representative asks for information to complete a birth certificate, he/she also asks if the parent wants a Social Security card for the newborn. If so, a block is checked on the birth certificate information form to indicate that the parent wants a Social Security card issued. That information is forwarded to the State's vital statistics office along with the birth certificate information. The vital statistics office then provides SSA with an electronic record which is used to issue the card.
- Approximately 50 percent of all original SSNs are assigned via EAB input and that percentage is expected to increase. Approximately 75 percent of newborns receive SSNs via EAB.
- Participating entities: All 50 States, as well as the following non-State entities: New York City, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. (The Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa do not have automated birth registration, so participation is not cost-effective.)