The Social Security Number: Legal Developments Affecting Its Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality

The Social Security Number:
Legal Developments Affecting Its Collection,
Disclosure, and Confidentiality
Updated October 2, 2008
Kathleen S. Swendiman
Legislative Attorney
American Law Division

The Social Security Number: Legal Developments
Affecting Its Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality
While the social security number (SSN) was first introduced as a device for
keeping track of contributions to the Social Security system, its use has been
expanded by government entities and the private sector to keep track of many other
government and private sector records. Use of the social security number as a federal
government identifier was based on Executive Order 9393, issued by President
Franklin Roosevelt. Beginning in the 1960s, federal agencies started adopting the
social security number as a governmental identifier, and its use for keeping track of
government records, on both the federal and state levels, greatly increased.
Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 limits compulsory divulgence of the social
security number by government entities. While the Privacy Act does provide some
limits on the use of the social security number by state and federal entities,
exceptions provided in that statute and succeeding statutes have resulted in only
minimal restrictions on governmental usage of the social security number.
Constitutional challenges to social security number collection and dissemination
have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. Private sector use of the social security
number is widespread and continues to be largely unregulated by the federal
government. The chronology in this report provides a list of federal developments
affecting use of the social security number, including federal regulation of the
number, as well as specific authorizations, restrictions, and fraud provisions
concerning its use.

Origin of the SSN and Federal Government Usage........................1
The Social Security Act of 1935..................................1
Executive Order 9397..........................................2
Citizenship and Social Security Numbers...........................3
Identity Theft Concerns.........................................4
Restrictions on Governmental Collection and Use of SSNs.................5
The Privacy Act of 1974........................................6
The Tax Reform Act of 1976.....................................7
Other Federal Statutes Affecting SSN Confidentiality.................8
Constitutional Challenges to SSN Collection and Dissemination............10
SSN Use in the Private Sector.......................................13
State Laws Affecting SSN Confidentiality and Disclosure.............13
Requirements Under the USA PATRIOT Act.......................14
Chronology of Federal Developments Affecting the Social Security Number..16

The Social Security Number:
Legal Developments Affecting Its
Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality
Origin of the SSN and Federal Government Usage
The social security number (SSN) was first introduced as a device for keeping
account of contributions to the Social Security system. Through the years, however,
the use of this identifying number has been expanded by government entities and the
private sector to keep track of many other government and private sector records. In
the view of some, a person’s SSN has attained the status of a quasi-universal personal
identification number.1 Today one can be required to furnish one’s SSN to obtain a
driver’s license, apply for public assistance, donate blood, or take out a loan. And
SSNs may be used to access insurance records, track down student loan defaulters,
compile direct marketing mailing lists, or identify convicted felons on lists of
potential jurors.2
The Social Security Act of 1935
The original Social Security Act of 1935,3 did not expressly mention the use of
SSNs but it did authorize the creation of some type of record-keeping scheme.
Section 807(b) of the Act stated:
Such taxes shall be collected and paid in such manner, at such times, and under
such conditions, not inconsistent with this title (either by making and filing
returns, or by stamps, coupons, tickets, books, or other reasonable devices or
methods necessary or helpful in securing a complete and proper collection and
payment of the tax or in securing proper identification of the taxpayer), as may

1 R. Brian Black, Legislating U.S. Data Privacy in the Context of National Identification
Numbers: Models From South Africa and the United Kingdom, 34 Cornell L. J. 398 (2001);
see also, Flavio L. Komuves, We’ve Got Your Number: An Overview of Legislation and
Decisions to Control the Use of Social Security Numbers as Personal Identifiers, 16
Marshall J. Computer & Info. L. 529, 531-532 (1998).
2 Public records access to personal information has also been used for nefarious purposes.
See Joan Zorza, Recognizing and Protecting the Privacy and Confidentiality Needs of
Battered Women, 29 Fam. L.Q. 273, 287 (1995), in which an incident is described whereby
a murderer located a victim after searching publicly accessible state motor vehicle records,
which included SSNs.
3 Act of August 14, 1935, ch. 531, 49 Stat. 620 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 301
et seq.).

be prescribed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the
Secretary of the Treasury.
In addition, Section 808 of the Act provided that “[t]he Commissioner of
Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall make and
publish rules and regulations for the enforcement of the title.” Shortly after passage
of the Social Security Act the Bureau of Internal Revenue required the issuance of4
an account number to each employee covered by the Social Security program.
Executive Order 9397
Although the SSN was originally established for the Social Security program,5
other government agencies soon realized that it could be used as a convenient
identifying number for tracking other government programs. Use of the SSN as a
federal government identifier was based on Executive Order 9397,6 issued by
President Franklin Roosevelt, which provided as follows:
Whereas certain Federal agencies from time to time require in the administration
of their activities a system of numerical identification of accounts of individual
persons; and ...
Whereas it is desirable in the interest of economic and orderly administration that
the Federal Government move toward the use of a single, unduplicated numerical
identification system of accounts and avoid the unnecessary establishment of
additional systems:
Now, therefore ... it is hereby ordered as follows:
Hereafter any Federal department, establishment, or agency shall, whenever the
head thereof finds it advisable to establish a new system of permanent account
numbers pertaining to individual persons, utilize exclusively the Social Security
account numbers ...

4 T.D. 4704, 1 Fed Reg. 1741, Nov. 7, 1936; 26 C.F.R. Part 401 (1st ed., 1939). Current
regulations relating to applications for and assignment of social security numbers, and the
maintenance of earnings records of individuals by the Social Security Administration (SSA),
may be found at 20 C.F.R. §§ 422.101 et seq. SSA publications about the SSN may also be
found on their website at [].
5 The SSA has emphasized that the SSN identifies a particular record only and the social
security card indicates the person whose record is identified by that number. Thus, the
social security card was not meant to identify the bearer. From 1946 to 1972 the legend
“NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION” was printed on the face of the card, as a warning that no
proof of identity was required to get a social security card. However, the legend was largely
ignored and was eventually dropped.
6 8 Fed. Reg. 16095-16097, 3 C.F.R. (1943-1948 Comp.) 283-284 (1943).

However, as a Social Security Administration staff paper indicated, it was not
until the 1960’s that federal agencies began to adopt the SSN as a general
government identifier in other contexts.7
The impetus for the Executive Order came from consideration the Civil Service
Commission was giving to establishing a numerical identification system for all
Federal employees, using the SSN as the identifying number. However, in spite
of the Executive Order, there was little program use of SSN’s within the Federal
Government in the 1940’s and 1950’s, because there was no real incentive for
those agencies which kept individual records (e.g., Civil Service Commission,
the Armed Forces, IRS, etc.) to change their record keeping systems. The
potential for expanded use of the SSN was increasingly recognized during this
period, though. After its adoption in 1961 by the Civil Service Commission for
Federal employees, the next major use of the SSN for other than social security
purposes occurred in 1962, when the IRS adopted the SSN as its official taxpayer
identification number. While the use of the SSN by IRS has no relationship to
the social security system as such, this step was nevertheless considered entirely
Citizenship and Social Security Numbers
Even though individuals are required to disclose their SSN under many
circumstances in dealing with governmental entities, possession of a SSN is not a
condition of United States citizenship. This is why regulations issued by the Social
Security Administration regarding obtaining a SSN state that “(a)n individual
needing a social security number may apply for one by filing a signed form SS-5,
‘Application For A Social Security Number Card,’...”8 Each individual determines
when he or she needs a number based upon federal and state statutes requiring
disclosure of an SSN. In reality, it would be very difficult to work or engage in many
activities in this country without a SSN. Virtually all tax matters require the
disclosure of one’s SSN,9 as does participation in many government programs, and
obtaining a driver’s license. While one may choose not to disclose a SSN in some
circumstances, one may have to forgo a benefit. For example, a parent can refuse to
provide a SSN for a child on an income tax form, but then the parent cannot claim
that child as a dependent on the tax form.10

7 Social Security Administration, Use of the SSN — Background and Legislative History
2-3 (1980). See also, Use of Social Security Number as a National Identifier: Hearing
before the Subcomm. on Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways and Means, 102dst
Cong., 1 Sess. 23 (1991) (testimony of Comm’r Gwendolyn C. King).
8 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(b)(1).
9 There are penalties which may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code for failure to
furnish an SSN when required to do so pursuant to a federal statute. See 26 U.S.C. § 6723
and 6724.
10 26 U.S.C. §151(e), which states “No credit shall be allowed under this section to a
taxpayer with respect to any qualifying child unless the taxpayer includes the name and
taxpayer identification number of such qualifying child on the return of tax for the taxable
year.” The taxpayer identification number is the person’s social security number in most

Identity Theft Concerns
In recent years, federal agencies have increasingly recognized that SSNs are a
key to the perpetuation of identity theft and related fraud.11 The Social Security
Administration now truncates SSNs on the millions of benefit statements it mails
each year.12 Beginning in the fall of 2007, beneficiaries of the Federal Thrift Savings
Plan received randomly assigned account numbers in place of their SSN, which had
previously served as the account number.13 Concerns have been raised that persons
who carry federal ID or program cards with SSNs on them have an increased risk of
identity theft through loss, theft or visual exposure of their cards. A U.S.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in 2004 found that SSNs were
displayed on millions of cards issued by federal agencies, including 42 million
Medicare cards, 8 million Department of Defense identification cards and insurance
cards, and 7 million Veteran Affairs identification cards.14 In 2007, GAO reported
that the VA and DOD had begun taking action to remove SSNs from identification
cards, but that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not have
plans to remove the SSN from Medicare identification cards.15
A recent report issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social
Security Administration (SSA), entitled “Removing Social Security Numbers From
Medicare Cards,”16 reviewed the vulnerabilities associated with displaying SSNs on
medical related documents and identification cards, and the steps taken by CMS to
address the issues relating to removal of the SSN from Medicare cards. In a 2006
report to Congress, CMS had estimated the cost of transitioning to a non-SSN based
Medicare identifier to be over $300 million.17 In conclusion, the OIG report stated,
While we recognize SSA cannot prohibit CMS from using SSNs as its primary
beneficiary identifier, we believe it can help reduce the potential threats to SSN
integrity by taking a proactive role in supporting legislation that would mandate
the removal of SSNs from Medicare cards. We recognize that such legislation
could be inconvenient for both agencies and may result in additional costs.
However, given the potential threats to SSN integrity, such a challenge should

11 See The President’s Identity Theft Task Force, Combating Identity Theft: A Strategic Plan
(April 2007), available at [].
12 GAO, Social Security Numbers: Use is Widespread and Protections Vary, GAO-04-768T
(Washington, D.C.: June 15, 2004) at 13.
13 See “TSP Now Using Account Numbers,” at [
accountnumber.html ].
14 GAO, Social Security Numbers: Governments Could Do More to Reduce Display in
Public Records and on Identity Cards, GAO-05-59 (Washington, D.C.: November 2004) at


15 GAO, Social Security Numbers: Use is Widespread and Protection Could Be Improved,
GAO-07-1023T (Washington, D.C.: June 21, 2007) at 10-11.
16 Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration, “Removing Social
Security Numbers From Medicare Cards,” A-08-08-18026 (Washington, D.C.: May, 2008),
at [].
17 Id., at 3.

not discourage SSA from taking additional steps to safeguard SSNs.
Accordingly, we recommend that SSA:
1. Proactively work with OMB and Congress to expedite the removal of SSNs
from Medicare cards in a manner that ensures compliance with Federal
guidelines and consistency with approaches taken by other Federal agencies.

2. Continue to partner with CMS to develop an alternative Medicare identifier18

that meets both agencies’ needs.
Several bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress that would require
CMS to replace SSNs on Medicare cards with alternate identifying numbers,
including H.R. 3046, H.R. 6399, H.R. 6600, S. 2908, and S. 3512. On September 29,
2008, H.R. 6600, The Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2008, passed the
House by a voice vote. That bill would require the Department of Health and Human
Services and the Social Security Administration to find a “cost-effective” way to
transition from using SSNs on Medicare cards to using a different Medicare
beneficiary account number that is not linked to the beneficiary’s SSN. The bill
would apply first to new Medicare cards, but would require CMS ultimately to
reissue new Medicare numbers to beneficiaries who already have cards.
Restrictions on Governmental Collection
and Use of SSNs
As early as the 1970s, concerns regarding increased uses of the SSN by both
government and private entities prompted studies and subsequent congressional
action limiting government uses of the SSN. The Social Security Administration
created a task force in 1970 to investigate “non-program” uses of the SSN, and the
task force’s report the following year stated:19
Any examination of SSN policy must begin with the recognition that the number
has ceased to be merely a “social security number.” Especially in the past few
years, the number has come into increasingly wide use as a numerical identifier
throughout society, to the point where the adult American citizen is beginning to
need a number to function effectively even if he is among the very small minority
of people who never work in covered employment.
In 1973, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare Secretary’s Advisory
Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems proposed (1) that an individual
whose SSN is requested should be informed as to whether or not divulging his
number is legally required; and (2) that no individual should be denied a benefit
because of his refusal to divulge his SSN for purposes other than those required by20

federal law.
18 Id., at 5.
19 Social Security Number Task Force, Social Security Administration, Report to the
Commissioner (1971) at 4.
20 DHEW Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems, Records,
Computers, and the Rights of Citizens (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office,

The Privacy Act of 1974
When Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974,21 it took the first statutory step
toward establishing a federal policy limiting compulsory divulgence of the SSN. In
its report accompanying S. 3418, which became the Privacy Act, the Senate
Committee on Government Operations stated that the extensive use of the SSN as a
universal identifier was “one of the most serious manifestations of privacy concerns
in the nation.”22 Citing its fear of harm to individual privacy through misuse of
information systems,23 Congress intended, in the Privacy Act, to curb government use
of SSN as a personal identifier.
Section 7(a)(1) of the Privacy Act provides that:
It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to
any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such
individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number.
However, the effectiveness of the Privacy Act in restricting SSN use was
somewhat limited by the exemptions in section 7(a)(2) of the Privacy Act:
The provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not apply to
(A) any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
(B) the disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State, or local
agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating January 1,
1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or regulation adopted prior
to such date to verify the identity of an individual.
In any situation where a government agency asks for a person’s SSN, the
agency, under section 7(b) of the Privacy Act, is required to tell the person whether
the request is mandatory or voluntary, and what uses the agency will make of the
SSNs that are collected.
While section 7 of the Privacy Act does not explicitly provide remedies for its
violation, courts have held that it would be illusory for section 7 to provide that
persons have the right to have their SSN free from compulsory disclosure with no
judicial remedy. Thus, courts have granted declaratory relief and permanent
injunctions to comply with the Privacy Act’s SSN disclosure and notice provisions.24

20 (...continued)

1973), Chapter VII.

21 P. L. 93-579, 88 Stat. 1896, 5 U.S.C. 552a note.
22 S. Rep. No. 1183, 93rd Cong., 2d Sess., reprinted in 1974 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin.
News 6916, 6943.
23 Section 2(a) of P.L. 93-579.
24 Courts have granted injunctive relief for violations of section 7 where a government

The United States Supreme Court, however, ruled in Doe v. Chao25 that an individual
must prove he has suffered actual harm before he can receive a $1,000 minimum
statutory award under section 7 of the Privacy Act when the government wrongfully
discloses his social security number.
In summary, under the Privacy Act, if an entity is a federal, state or local
government agency, it cannot require an individual to submit a SSN, unless (1) the
government agency used SSNs in a record system for identification purposes under
a statute or regulation adopted prior to January 1, 1975;26 or (2) it has received
specific permission from Congress to require submission of the SSN, and the agency
cites such authorizing authority. If neither of those two conditions is satisfied, then
the government entity may still ask an individual to submit his or her SSN
voluntarily. In either situation where a SSN is requested, the agency must fully
disclose what uses will be made of the number.
The Tax Reform Act of 1976
In 1976 Congress further weakened the protections of the Privacy Act by
authorizing the states to use the SSN for a wide range of purposes, and by codifying
the use of the SSN for federal tax purposes. First, Section 1211(c)(i) of the Tax
Reform Act of 197627 amended Section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act28 by
adding the following language:
(c)(i) It is the policy of the United States that any State (or political subdivision
thereof) may, in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver’s
license, or motor vehicle registration law within its jurisdiction, utilize the social
security account numbers issued by the Secretary for the purpose of establishing
the identification of individuals affected by such law, and may require any
individual who is or appears to be so affected to furnish to such state (or political
subdivision thereof) or any agency thereof having administrative responsibility
for the law involved, the social security account number (or numbers, if he has
more than one such number) issued to him by the Secretary.

24 (...continued)
agency failed to inform applicants for a license that providing their SSN was optional.
Russell v. Bd. of Plumbing Exam’rs, 74 F. Supp. 2d 339 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). See also,
Greidinger v. Davis, 782 F. Supp. 1106 (E.D. Va. 1992), rev’d and remanded on otherth
grounds, 988 F.2d 1344 (4 Cir. 1993).
25 54 U.S. 614 (2004). See Haeji Hong, Dismantling the Private Enforcement of the Privacy
Act of 1974: Doe v. Chao, 38 Akron L. Rev. 71 (2005).
26 For example, some states, such as Kentucky and Tennessee, require a person’s SSN for
voter registration pursuant to laws in effect in those states prior to 1975. It is noted that
Kentucky’s statutory provision also provides that “(n)o person shall be denied the right to
register because of failure to include his social security number.” KRS § 116.155 (2000).th
Tennessee’s SSN requirement was upheld in McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752 (6 Cir.
2000), cert. den., McKay v. United States, 532 U.S. 906 (2001). See also, Russell v. Bd. of
Plumbing Examiners of County of Westchester, 74 F. Supp. 2d 339 (S.D. N.Y. 1999).
27 P.L. 94-455, 90 Stat. 1520 (1976).
28 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2).

Second, Section 1211(c) of the Tax Reform Act amended Section 6109 of the
Internal Revenue Code29 to provide that “[t]he social security account number issued
to an individual for purposes of section 205(c)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act, shall,
except as otherwise specified under regulations of the Secretary, be used as the
identifying number for such individuals for purposes of this title.” Before this
revision, section 6109 had required taxpayers to use identifying numbers as
prescribed by regulations. Although in practice it was the SSN which was used, no
provision in federal law had specifically required that the SSN be the identifying
number for federal tax purposes until the 1976 amendment.
In studying the effects of these two laws, the Privacy Protection Study
Commission found that the restrictions on use of the SSN imposed by section 7 of
the Privacy Act had little impact on government agencies. The Commission stated
that “[t]he Tax Reform Act grants most State and local government agencies that
found its continued use necessary authority to demand it. In short, the Privacy Act
and the Tax Reform Act essentially preserved the status quo with respect to the SSN:
namely, widespread collection and use of the number.”30
Other Federal Statutes Affecting SSN Confidentiality
More recent enactments by Congress have provided increased confidentiality
of SSNs in public records. Any SSNs and related records that are obtained by federal
or state authorized persons pursuant to federal laws enacted on or after October 1,
1990 “shall be confidential, and no authorized person shall disclose any such social
security account number or related record.”31 Penalties are provided for unauthorized
willful disclosures of such confidential information.32 Widespread distribution of
SSNs from state driver records has been curtailed since 1994 by Congress under the
Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.33 Since its amendment in 2000,34 certain “highly
restricted information” (including an individual’s photograph or image, social
security number, or medical or disability information) may not be disclosed by a state
department of motor vehicles without the express consent of the individual, except

29 26 U.S.C. § 6109(d).
30 Privacy Protection Study Commission, Personal Privacy in an Information Society 612-13
31 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(I). See the chronology, infra at 13, for other specific
federal limitations on SSN collection and dissemination.
32 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(viii)(II).
33 18 U.S.C. § 2721 et seq. This statute was enacted by Congress after the murder of actress
Rebecca Shaeffer. Her assailant had gotten her address from the California Department of
Motor Vehicles. See Reno v. Condon, 528 U.S. 141 (2000), upholding the constitutionality
of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994.
34 Section 309 of P.L. 106-346.

under limited circumstances.35 The statute provides for both criminal punishment
and a private cause of action for violations of its provisions.36
Another federal statute which provides some protection from SSN disclosures
is the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).37 The FOIA requires federal agencies
to generally make their records available to the public, unless a specific exemption
applies. “Exemption 6” allows an agency to withhold records that would disclose
information of a personal nature where “disclosure would constitute a clearly
unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”38 Courts have held that when a citizen
requests federal records under the FOIA, SSNs contained in such records may not be
disseminated. For example, a federal court denied a union access to Air Force
contractor employees’ payroll records which contained SSNs,39 and another federal
court denied a citizen request for addresses and SSNs contained in income tax
Publicly funded schools and those that receive federal education assistance must
comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g,
(“FERPA,” also known as the “Buckley Amendment”). Under this statute
educational records or personally identifiable information of students may not be
released without written consent of the student, with limited exceptions. Not all
colleges and universities have interpreted FERPA to prohibit the use of a student’s
SSN as an indentifier within the school community. However, increasingly, many
schools have ended practices whereby students’ SSNs are displayed on identification
cards or on class roster lists or as identifying numbers for the posting of grades.41 In
one case brought under this Act, students successfully sued Rutgers University and

35 Enumerated exceptions to non-disclosure include use by governmental agencies and law
enforcement agencies in carrying out their functions, use in connection with judicial
proceedings and enforcement of judgments, use by insurance agencies for claims
investigations, anti-fraud activities, or rating and underwriting activities, and use by
employers or insurers to verify information relating to a commercial driver’s license holders.

18 U.S.C. § 2721(b)(1), (4), (6), and (9).

36 18 U.S.C. § 2723.
37 5 U.S.C. § 552(a).
38 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). In Sherman v. U.S. Dept. of Army, 244 F.3d 357 (5th Cir. 2001), the
court upheld the redaction of SSNs by the Army in the release of servicemen award orders
issued during the Vietnam war under a FOIA request. “(W)e recognize that individual
citizens have a substantial informational privacy right to limit the disclosure of their SSNs,
and consequently reduce the risk that they will be affected by various identity fraud crimes.”
Id. at 244 F.3d 365.
39 Sheet Metal Workers Int’l Assn. v. United States Air Force, 63 F.3d 994 (10th Cir. 1995).
40 Aronson v. Internal Revenue Service, 973 F.2d 962 (1st Cir. 1992).
41 Some states have enacted statutes specifically prohibiting public display of students’
SSNs for posting of grades, on class rosters, on Internet sites, or on student ID cards. See,
e.g., N.Y. CLS Educ § 2-b (2007); A.R.S. § 15-1823 (2007); R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-38-5.1

its president to enjoin dissemination of class rosters with student social security
numbers to faculty and students.42
Constitutional Challenges to SSN Collection
and Dissemination
Challenges to SSN collection based on constitutional grounds have not fared
well in the courts. Under the current framework for evaluating constitutional privacy
rights, which is essentially a “reasonable expectation of privacy” analysis, courts
have been hard pressed to find a constitutionally protected privacy interest in the SSN
because of the broad dissemination of SSNs in public and private records.43 In Doyle
v. Wilson,44 a federal court held that “mandatory disclosure of one’s social security
number does not so threaten the sanctity of individual privacy as to require
constitutional protection.” In a similar vein, courts have held that requiring an SSN
on a driver’s license application is not unconstitutional,45 nor is a requirement that
welfare recipients furnish their SSNs.46 In like fashion, an individual’s interest in
informational privacy does not invalidate the statutory requirement that non-attorney
bankruptcy preparers place their SSNs in court filings.47 In addition, in Bowen v.
Roy,48 the United States Supreme Court held that requiring applicants to provide their
SSNs as a condition of eligibility for federal benefits, such as AFDC or food stamps,
does not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution since such
a requirement is neutral in religious terms. Thus, a person may need to make a
choice between receiving a government benefit and adhering to religious beliefs. In
addition, preventing fraud in federal welfare programs is an important goal, and the
SSN requirement is a reasonable means of promoting that goal.49 Also, the firing of
an employee who refused to provide her SSN to her employer did not violate the

42 Krebs v. Rutgers, 797 F. Supp. 1246 (D. N.J. 1992).
43 See, e.g., 143 Cong. Rec. S3292 (daily ed. April 16, 1997) (statement of Sen. Feinstein)
(“I found that my own [SSN] was accessible to users of the Internet. My staff retrieved it
in less than 3 minutes.”).
44 529 F. Supp. 1307, 1348 (D. Del. 1982).
45 Michigan Department of State v. United States, 166 F. Supp. 2d 1228 (W.D. Mich. 2001).
46 McElrath v. Califano, 615 F.2d 434 (7th Cir. 1980); see also, Chambers v. Klein, 564
F.2d 89 (3d Cir. 1977).
47 In Re Crawford, 194 F.3d 954 (9th Cir. 1999), cert. denied sub nom, Ferm v. United States
Trustee, 528 U.S. 1189 (2000). While the court recognized a right to informational privacy,
it stated that the right is not absolute, so that it may be infringed upon by proper
governmental interests. “(W)e conclude that the speculative possibility of identity theft is
not enough to trump the importance of the governmental interests” in preventing fraud and
the unauthorized practice of law in the bankruptcy petition preparer industry. 194 F.3d at

960. See also, Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F. Supp. 2d 1223 (D. Hawaii 2001).

48 476 U.S. 693 (1986). “[G]iven the diversity of beliefs in our pluralistic society and the
necessity of providing governments with sufficient operating latitude, some incidental
neutral restraints on the free exercise of religion are inescapable.” Id. at 712.
49 476 U.S. at 710.

employee’s constitutional right to privacy.50 The employee alleged that she “was
being placed in dire jeopardy of having her identity stolen” were she to disclose her
SSN to her employer.51 However, the court held that “the Constitution does not
provide a right to privacy in one’s SSN,” and “[t]here is no doubt that laws requiring
employers to collect SSNs of employees have a rational basis.”52
In another federal court case, Greidinger v. Davis,53 Virginia’s requirement that
each voter’s registration form contain an SSN was challenged. The court held that
neither SSN collection nor dissemination is itself a violation of a constitutional right
of privacy. However, the court found that Virginia had failed to comply with section
7(b) of the Privacy Act by not stating whether the disclosure was mandatory or
voluntary, and by not listing what uses would be made of the SSNs. The court went
on to find that Virginia’s practice of making voter records, including SSNs, available
for public inspection placed “a burdensome condition on the exercise of the
fundamental right to vote.”54 Virginia’s justification for collecting and disclosing
SSNs was to prevent voter fraud. The court held that while Virginia’s rationale
amounted to a compelling state interest, its policy of keeping SSNs available for
public inspection was not “narrowly tailored” to the state’s interest, so the court
barred further dissemination of voters’ SSNs.55 Thus, the court’s specific holding in
this case was that the public availability of SSNs is unconstitutional only because it
burdens another fundamental right, the right to vote, not because it is per se

50 436 F.3d 74 (2nd Cir. 2006).
51 Id.
52 Id., at 75-6.
53 988 F.2d 1344 (4th Cir. 1993).
54 Id. at 1348.
55 Id. at 1354.
56 At least one court has been more protective of constitutional privacy rights involved in
SSN use. In State ex rel. Beacon Journal Publishing Co. v. Akron, 640 N.E.2d 164, 166
(Ohio 1994) a newspaper attempted to obtain payroll records of city employees, specifically
including SSNs. The Ohio Supreme Court held that disclosure of the individual employees’
SSNs “would violate the federal constitutional right to privacy” and prohibited disclosure.
But see Pontbriand v. Sundlun, 699 A. 2d 856, 870 (R.I. 1997), wherein the court disagreed
with the court’s holding in Beacon Journal Publishing Co v. Akron. More recently, the
court in Arakawa v. Sakata, 133 F.Supp.2d 1223 (D. Hawaii 2001), concluded that the
release of a SSN “potentially rises to the level of a federal constitutional violation” while
acknowledging the case law on privacy rights and the SSN to be “ambiguous.” Id. at 1229-
30. Also, in a case of first impression, a tenant argued that a landlord’s demand for SSNs
of an apartment’s occupants violated the state consumer protection statute. The court found
the tenant’s allegations sufficient to state a claim under the statute and so refused to dismiss
the claims. See Meyerson v. Prime Realty Services, 796 N.Y.2d 848 (2005). See, generally,
Lora M. Jennings, Paying the Price for Privacy: Using the Private Facts Tort to control
Social Security Number Dissemination and the Risks of Identity Theft, 43 Washburn L. J.

725 (2004).

More recently, the United States Supreme Court, in Reno v. Condon,57
unanimously upheld the provisions of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 199458
(“DPPA”) as constitutional. The DPPA restricts the states’ ability to disclose a
driver’s personal information, including SSN, without the driver’s consent. South
Carolina had a statute permitting information contained in the state’s Department of
Motor Vehicle records to be available or sold to any person or entity that fills out a
form listing the requester’s name and address and stating that the information would
not be used for telephone solicitation. However, the High Court found the DPPA’s
restrictions to be a proper exercise of Congress’ authority to regulate interstate
commerce since drivers’ personal information sold by the states is used by insurers,
manufacturers, direct marketers, and others engaged in interstate commerce to
contact drivers with customized solicitations. In addition, the Supreme Court
rejected arguments that the federal regulation violated Tenth Amendment federalism
In another case involving a federal requirement imposed on states, Michigan
challenged a 1996 provision in the Welfare Reform Act that requires states to collect
the SSNs of applicants of driver’s licenses and other state licenses. The purpose of
the requirement, section 666(a)(13)(A) of the Social Security Act,59 is to facilitate
interstate tracking and location of parents who are delinquent in child support
payments. Because this statutory provision is tied to federal money that the state
receives for its child support enforcement programs, the Michigan Legislature
enacted the federally required laws, but then directed the Family Independence
Agency to apply for an exemption from the requirement which was denied. The
Michigan Department of State filed suit against the United States, challenging the
constitutionality of the provision. In Michigan Department of State v. United
States,60 the district court upheld this requirement as a proper exercise of Congress’
power under the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution.61 The court found that
the statutory requirement for collection of SSNs was sufficiently related to the federal
interest of assisting the states in the nationwide collection of child support, and that
it did not violate a citizen’s right to privacy.62

57 528 U.S. 141 (2000).
58 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721 - 2725.
59 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(13)(A).
60 166 F. Supp. 2d 1228 (W.D. Mich. 2001).
61 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 1.
62 Individuals have also challenged this provision on grounds that it violates their right to
free exercise of religion, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, due process and the right to
privacy, but such cases have also been unsuccessful. See, e.g., Kocher v. Bickley, 722 A.2d
756 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1999); Brunson v. Dep’t of Motor Vehicles, 85 Cal. Rptr. 2d 710
(1999); Stoianoff v. Comm’r of Motor Vehicles, 107 F. Supp. 2d 439 (S.D.N.Y. 2000);
Cubas v. Marinez, 819 N.Y.S. 2d 10 (2006).

SSN Use in the Private Sector
Section 7 of the Privacy Act does not impose any restrictions on private sector
use of the SSN. Thus, private businesses and organizations may still request an
individual’s SSN in exchange for goods or services, and no general federal law63
regulates such transactions. Private sector use of the SSN is widespread, including
activities such as using SSNs for data exchanges to assess credit risk, tracking patient
care among multiple providers, locating bankruptcy assets, and providing background
checks on new employees. Many colleges and universities, and agencies that
administer standardized tests such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), also
request a person’s SSN for internal purposes, although the SAT no longer sends
students’ SSNs to universities. One may be asked to provide one’s SSN for such
diverse activities as taking out an insurance policy, checking into a hospital, applying
for a store charge account, or joining a club. Although an individual can refuse to
give his or her SSN to a company or organization, the business can also refuse to
provide the goods or services unless the SSN is provided. If the company insists on
receiving a customer’s SSN, the individual can refuse and take his or her business
elsewhere. In some cases, an accommodation may be reached whereby a business
agrees to use an identifier other than a person’s SSN, but there is no federal law that
prohibits the private entity from requiring a person’s SSN as a condition to providing
goods or services.
State Laws Affecting SSN Confidentiality and Disclosure
A number of states have enacted statutes that restrict the use of or display of
SSNs in various contexts, including restricting companies and individuals from
posting or publicly displaying SSNs, printing them on cards, transmitting them over
the Internet, or mailing them without safety measures. California was the first state
to pass such a law that bars certain businesses, such as insurance companies, from
publicly displaying SSNs. The California law also prohibits printing a SSN on
identification cards; printing SSNs on documents mailed to customers, except under
certain circumstances; and requiring persons to use an SSN to log onto a website
without a password.64 Other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut,
Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and
Virginia, have passed laws similar to California.65 Some states have gone further in
protecting SSNs, including restricting the solicitation of SSNs by private
companies,66 prohibiting disclosure of SSNs or any number derived therefrom,67 or

63 GAO, Social Security Numbers: Use is Widespread and Protection Could be Improved,
GAO-07-1023T (Washington, D.C.: June 21, 2007).
64 CAL. CIV. CODE § 1798.85 (West 2002).
65 See, for more information on state laws, GAO, Social Security Numbers: More Could be
Done to Protect SSNs, GAO-06-586T (Washington, D.C.: March 30, 2006). See also, a list
of state laws providing for SSN protection compiled by Consumers Union at
[ ht t p: / / www.consumer suni on.or g/ pub/ cor e _f i nanci al _ser vi ces/ ml ] .
66 See, e.g., TEX. [Bus. & Com.] CODE ANN. § 35.581, which prohibits a business from
requiring that an individual disclose his or her SSN in order to obtain goods or services,

subjecting a truncated SSN to the same restrictions on display and transfer as the full
Concerns have been expressed regarding the effect of technological advances
on the availability and use of the SSN in private sector databases:69 Organizations
that sell personal information, including SSNs, have benefitted greatly from
continuing advances in computer technology and the availability of computerized
databases.70 This practice may be exploited in a fraudulent manner. For example,
in February 2005, ChoicePoint, the largest information broker in the country,
“unwittingly sold personal information on at least 145,000 Americans to a criminal
ring engaged in identity theft.”71 Increasingly, states have passed laws requiring state
agencies and organizations to notify residents when a security breach results in the
release of personal information, including SSNs. California was the first jurisdiction
to pass such a law in 2002.72 As of January 2008, at least 39 states have passed laws
with similar requirements.73
Requirements Under the USA PATRIOT Act
Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act,74 P.L. 107-56, directed the Treasury
Department to promulgate regulations that require certain financial institutions to
verify the identity of persons establishing a new line of credit or opening a new
account and to consult “lists of known or suspected terrorists or terrorist
organizations provided to the financial institution by any government agency to

66 (...continued)
unless the business has a privacy policy and maintains the confidentiality of the SSN.
67 See, e.g., N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 399-dd, restricting publication or transmittal of an SSN
or any number derived from such number.
68 See, e.g., 2007 Minn. Laws. Ch. 129 §§ 11, 55-57 (effective July 1, 2008).
69 Enhancing Social Security Number Privacy: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Social
Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means, 108th Cong., 2nd Sess. (2004).
70 See GAO, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS: Private Sector Entities Routinely Obtain and
Use SSNs, and Laws Limit the Disclosure of This Information, GAO-04-11 (Washington,
D.C.: January, 2004).
71 Grayson Barber, Personal Information in Government Records: Protecting the Public
Interest in Privacy, 25 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 63, 65 (2006). See also CRS Report
RS22137, Data Brokers: Background and Industry Overview, by Gina Marie Stevens.
72 CAL.CIV. CODE §§ 1798.29, 1798.82 (West 2004).
73 CRS Report RL33273, Data Security: Federal Legislative Approaches, by Gina Marie
Stevens. See also the 50-state survey of breach of information legislation compiled by the
National Conference of State Legislatures at [
breachlaws .htm] .
74 The full title of this law is the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorists” Act.

determine whether a person seeking to open an account appears on any such list.”75
These regulations, issued in 2003, require financial institutions such as banks to
implement a Customer Identification Program (CIP), which, at a minimum, must
require that an individual provide his or her name, date of birth, residential or
business address, and taxpayer identification number, which for U.S. citizens is the
person’s social security number.76 Thus, a person opening a bank or credit card
account or financing a car through a loan from a financial institution may be told that
supplying his or her SSN is “required by the Patriot Act.” To be precise, it is the CIP
regulations issued pursuant to Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act that require
disclosure of a person’s SSN under certain circumstances
In addition, pursuant to 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act,77 the Department of
the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) has set up a system
whereby names of suspected money launderers or terrorists provided by federal law
enforcement agencies are periodically circulated to federal depository institutions,
which are to search their records and provide various information, including SSNs,
on any matches that they discover among their accounts.78 Section 352 of the USA
PATRIOT Act,79 however, may also play a role in prompting various businesses to
require SSNs from their customers. Under section 351,”financial institutions,” as
defined in the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act,80 which is
sometimes referred to as the Bank Secrecy Act,81 are required to establish anti-money
laundering programs. Section 351 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to issue

75 31 U.S.C. § 5318(l). See, generally, CRS Report RS21547, Financial Institution
Customer Identification Programs Mandated by the USA PATRIOT Act, by M. Maureen
76 31 C.F.R. § 103.121(b)(2) (banks, savings associations, and credit unions); 31 C.R.R. §
103.122 (brokers and dealers); 31 C.F.R. § 131.123 (futures commission merchants); 31
C.F.R. § 103.131 (mutual funds).
77 31 U.S.C. § 5311 note.
78 31 C.F.R. § 103.100.
79 31 U.S.C. § 5318 note.
80 “Financial institution” is defined in 31 U.S.C. § 5312, to include depository institutions,
securities firms, currency exchanges, issuers of travelers’ checks, credit card system
operators, insurance companies, dealers in precious metals or jewels, pawnbrokers, loan
companies, finance companies, travel agencies, money transmitters, telegraph companies,
companies selling vehicles, persons involved in real estate closings, the U.S. Postal Service,
casinos, and “any other business designated by the Secretary [of the Treasury] whose cash
transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters.”
81 Titles I and II of P.L. 91-508, the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, has as its major component,
the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 5311, which requires
reports and records of transactions involving cash, negotiable instruments, or foreign
currency and authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations to insure that
adequate records are maintained of transactions that have “a high degree of usefulness in
criminal, tax, or regulatory investigations or proceedings.” Since April 1996, 61 Fed. Reg.
4326 (February 5, 1996), the regulations require that banks and various other financial
institutions submit Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) of any transaction which the
institution suspects to be connected with money laundering.

rules to that end. Although the regulations issued to date do not specifically require
the collecting of SSNs, they require the covered financial institutions to install anti-
money laundering programs to detect money laundering by assessing the risk posed
by each customer. See, for example, 31 C.F.R. § 103.140, requiring anti-money
laundering programs for dealers in precious metals, precious stones, or jewels. It
includes the following statement: “Factors that may indicate a transaction is designed
to involve use of the dealer to facilitate money laundering or terrorist financing
include ... [u]nwillingness by a customer .. To provide complete or accurate contact
information, financial references, or business affiliations.”
Chronology of Federal Developments Affecting the
Social Security Number
The chronology which follows details various federal developments relating to
use of the SSN.82
1935Enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935, P.L. 74-271, with
authority for development of appropriate record keeping and
identification scheme. Section 807 (b) of P.L. 74-271.
1937By June 30, 1937, approximately 30 million applications for
social security numbers are processed.
1943Executive Order 9397, issued by President Roosevelt, authorizes
the use of the SSN as a federal government identifier. 3 C.F.R.

943-1948 Comp.) 283-284 (1943).

1961The Civil Service Commission adopts the SSN as the official
employee identification number.
1962The Internal Revenue Service adopts the SSN as the official
taxpayer identification number.
1964The Treasury Department, via internal policy, requires buyers of
series H Savings bonds to provide their SSN’s.
1966The Veterans Administration begins to use the SSN as its hospital
admissions number and for patient record-keeping.

82 This chronology is comprehensive, but not necessarily all inclusive. Federal laws not
covered in this chronology include those related to computer matching programs which use
the SSN to cross match data from two or more federal programs. For example, see 7
U.S.C.§ 2025(e), which authorizes computer matching between Food Stamp program
recipients and Supplemental Security Income recipients for verification of income
information. See, generally, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(8),(o),(p). In addition, only selected
references to the ubiquitous Tax Code requirements to supply one’s SSN (“taxpayer
identification number”) are included.

1967The Department of Defense, via Secretary of Defense
memorandum, adopts the SSN as the service number for all
military personnel. Actual replacement of serial numbers with
SSNs for military personnel occurred on July 1, 1969.

1970Section 1102(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970,

P.L. 91-452, authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to require
SSNs of persons to whom certain explosive materials are to be
distributed. 18 U.S.C. § 842(f).
1971The Social Security Administration issues a task force report on
issues raised by non-program SSN use. The task force report
proposes that the agency take a “cautious and conservative”
position toward SSN use and do nothing to promote the use of the
SSN as an identifier.

1972Section 130(a) of the Social Security Amendments of 1972, P.L.

92-603, adds subsection (g) to Section 208 of the Social Security
Act, setting forth penalties for furnishing false information to
obtain a SSN, and for deceptive practices involving SSNs. 42
U.S.C. § 408(g).
Section 137 of the same Act, P.L. 92-603, directs the Secretary of
HEW (now Commissioner of Social Security) to assign SSNs to
all aliens permitted to work in the United States, as well as to all
recipients of benefits paid for by federal funds. 42 U.S.C. §§
405(c)(2)(B)(i)(I) and (II). This section also authorizes the
Secretary to issue SSNs to children below school age at the
request of parents and guardians and to children of school age at
their time of enrollment. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(B)(iv) and (v).
This section also requires the Secretary to obtain evidence
necessary to establish age, citizenship, or alien status, and the true
identity of applicants of SSNs. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(B)(ii).
1973Buyers of series E savings bonds are required by the Treasury
Department to provide their SSNs.
1974Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974, P.L. 93-579, limits
governmental use of the SSN. The federal government and state
and local governments are prohibited from withholding any right,
benefit or privilege from a person simply because the individual
refuses to furnish his or her SSN, except under certain
circumstances, such as when required by federal law, or under
certain grandfathered systems of records maintained by a
governmental entity prior to 1975. 5 U.S.C. § 552a note.
1975Section 101(c)(5)(C) of the Social Services Amendments of
1974, P.L. 93-647, requires disclosure of an individual’s SSN as
a condition of eligibility for AFDC benefits. 42 U.S.C. §


1976Section 1211(b) of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, P.L. 94-455,

authorizes states to use the SSN in the administration of any tax,
general public assistance, driver’s license or motor vehicle
registration law and to require individuals affected by such laws
to furnish their SSNs to the states. 42 U.S.C.§ 405(c)(2)(C)(i). In
addition, states are permitted to use the SSN for responding to
requests for information from any agency operating pursuant to
the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and the
Child Support and Establishment of Paternity program. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(c)(2)(C)(iii).
Section 1211(c) of the same Act, P.L. 94-455, amends section
6109 of the Internal Revenue Code 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. 26 U.S.C. 6109(d).
Section 1211(d) of the same Act, P.L. 94-455, makes misuse of
the SSN for any purpose a violation of the Social Security Act. 42
U.S.C.§ 408(g).
1977Section 4 of the Food Stamp Act of 1977, P.L. 96-58, directs the
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to require that the
SSN of all household members be disclosed as a condition of
eligibility for participation in the Food Stamp program. 7 U.S.C.
§ 2025(e).

1981Section 803(b) of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981, P.L.

97-35, requires the disclosure of the SSNs of all adult members in
the household of children applying for the school lunch program.

42 U.S.C.§ 1758(d). (see 1989 amendment, P.L. 101-147).

Section 916 of the Department of Defense Authorization Act,
1982, P.L. 97-86, authorizes the Director of Selective Service to
require an individual’s SSN when registering for the draft and
requires the Secretary of HHS to furnish to the Director of
Selective Service the names, dates of birth, addresses and SSNs
of individuals required to register for the purpose of enforcement
of the Military Selective Service Act. 50 U.S.C. App. §§ 453(b).
Section 4 of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981, the Social
Security Benefits Act, P.L. 97-123, amends the Social Security
Act to add alteration and forgery of a social security card to the
list of prohibited acts and increases the penalties for such acts
under section 208 of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 408.

1982Section 205 of the Alcohol Traffic Safety-National Driver
Register Act of 1982, P.L. 97-364, directs the chief driver
licensing official in states participating in the National Driver
Register to report certain information on drivers whose licenses
have been denied, canceled, suspended or who have been
convicted of certain offenses, to the Register, including the SSN
of the driver if used by the reporting state for driver records or
motor vehicle license purposes. 23 U.S.C. § 401 note. (see 1994
revision, P.L. 103-272).
Section 4 of the Debt Collection Act of 1982, P.L. 97-365,
requires all applicants for loans under any federal loan program to
furnish their SSNs to the agency supplying the loan. 26 U.S.C. §

6103 note. (repealed, 1994, see P.L. 103-272).

1983Section 339 of the Social Security Amendments of 1983, P.L. 98-

21, requires federal and state agencies to provide the SSNs of
incarcerated felons to the Secretary of HHS in order to limit
social security benefits to certain prisoners. 42 U.S.C. §


Section 345 of the same Act, P.L. 98-21, requires that the
Secretary of HHS issue a social security card at the same time as
an SSN is issued, and requires that new and replacement social
security cards be made of banknote paper and (to the maximum
extent practicable) not be subject to counterfeiting. 42 U.S.C. §


Section 122 of the Department of State Authorization Act for
FY1984 and 1985, P.L. 98-164, requires the Secretary of State to
obtain SSNs from borrowers under the repatriation loan program.

22 U.S.C. § 2671(d).

1984Section 146(a) of the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, P.L. 98-369,

amends Section 6050I of the Internal Revenue Code to require
that persons engaged in a trade or business file a return (including
SSNs) with the IRS for certain cash transactions over $10,000.

26 U.S.C. § 6050I(b)(2).

Section 422(b) of the same law, P.L. 98-369, amends Section 215
of the Internal Revenue Code to authorize the Secretary of HHS
to prescribe regulations requiring a spouse paying alimony to
furnish the IRS with the taxpayer identification number (i.e.,
SSN) of the spouse receiving alimony payments. 26 U.S.C.§ 215.

Section 2651(a) of the same law, P.L. 98-369, requires that states
have in effect an income and eligibility verification system
meeting federal standards for certain programs, and that SSNs be
required as a condition for eligibility for benefits under such
programs, which include the following: AFDC, Medicaid,
Unemployment Compensation, Food Stamps, and SSI. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1320b-7(a)(1).
Section 3(b) of the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of
1984, P.L. 98-378, requires states to provide the SSNs of
noncustodial parents to state child support enforcement agencies
for enforcing child support orders by tax refund offsets. 42
U.S.C. § 666(a)(3)(C).

1985Section 1324 of the Food Security Act of 1985, P.L. 99-198,

provides that certain state financing statements filed in a state
central filing system certified by the Secretary of Agriculture for
the protection of purchasers of farm products include the SSN of
debtors with farm products subject to a security interest. 7 U.S.C.
§ 1631.

1986Section 407(a) of the Higher Education Amendments of 1986,

P.L. 99-498, requires student loan applicants to submit their SSN
as a condition for eligibility. 20 U.S.C. § 1091(a)(4).
Section 1234(a)(1) of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, P.L. 99-514,
provides that applications for United States passports or for legal,
permanent resident status (green cards) include the person’s
Taxpayer Identification Number (usually SSN), if any. 26 U.S.C.
§ 6039E.
Section 1524 of the same Act, P.L. 99-514, requires that any
dependent age five or older listed on a tax return be identified by
a SSN. 26 U.S.C. § 6109(e).
Section 12006 of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of
1986, P.L. 99-570, gives the Secretary of Transportation authority
to require that states include a driver’s SSN on commercial
vehicle licenses. 49 U.S.C. App. § 2705. (see 1994 revision,
P.L. 103-272).
Section 101(e) of the Immigration Control and Reform Act of
1986, P.L. 99-603, requires the Secretary of HHS to undertake a
study of the feasibility and costs of establishing a SSN validation
system for employment eligibility verification of aliens under 8
U.S.C. § 1324a, and of the privacy concerns that would be raised
by the establishment of such a system. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a note.

1987Section 11(b) of the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987,

P.L. 100-185, provides that certain information be included in
judgments with fines of more than $100, including the SSN of the
defendant. 18 U.S.C. § 3612(b)(1)(A).

Section 1301(a)(3) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of
1987, P.L. 100-203, requires that an entity receiving farm subsidy
payments provide the SSN of each individual that holds or
acquires a substantial beneficial interest in the entity to the
Secretary of Agriculture. 7 U.S.C. § 1308-1(a)(3).
1988Section 165 of the Housing and Community Development Act of
1987, P.L. 100-242, authorizes the Secretary of the Department
of Housing and Urban Development to require disclosure of a
person’s SSN (or the SSNs of members of a person’s household)
as a condition of eligibility for any HUD program. 42 U.S.C. §


Section 125 of the Family Support Act of 1988, P.L. 100-485,
requires each state, in issuing birth certificates, to obtain the
SSNs of the parents, unless the state determines that there is good
cause for not furnishing such number. The SSNs are not to be
recorded on the birth certificate but are to be used for child
support enforcement activities. 42 U.S.C.§ 405(c)(2)(C)(ii).
Section 704(a) of the same law, P.L. 100-485, requires that any
dependent age two and older listed on a tax return be identified
by a SSN. 26 U.S.C.§ 6109(e).
Section 8008 of the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of
1988, P.L. 100-647, authorizes any state and any authorized
blood donation facility to require that blood donors furnish their
SSNs for purposes of identification. Requests to the Blood
Donor Locator Service for the mailing address of blood donors
who may have the HIV virus shall include the donor’s SSN. 42
U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(D)(i) and § 1320b-11(c).
Section 7088 of P.L. 100-609, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988,
deleted the $5,000 and $25,000 upper limits on fines that can be
imposed for violations of Section 208 of the Social Security Act.
The general limit of $250,000 for felonies in Title 18 of the
United States Code applies to violations under the Social
Security Act. 42 U.S.C.§ 408(a).

1989Section 202(b)(2)(A) of the Child Nutrition and WIC Re-

authorization Act of 1989, P.L. 101-147, amends the National
School Lunch Act to specify that the member of the household
who executes the application for the school lunch program must
furnish only the SSN of the parent or guardian who is the primary
wage earner responsible for the care of the child for whom the
application is made. Only if verification of the application data is
necessary may the Secretary require the SSNs of all adult
household members. 42 U.S.C. § 1758(d).

Section 301(a)(3) of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1989,
P.L. 101-225, requires the SSNs of owners of certain registered
seagoing vessels for use in the identification of such vessels. 46
U.S.C. §§ 12103, 12501, 12503.
Section 2008 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989,
P.L. 101-239, authorizes development of a National Student Loan
Data System containing information on student loans, including
the SSNs of borrowers. 20 U.S.C. § 1092b(a)(2).
1990Section 8053(a) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of
1990, P.L. 101-508, requires the SSN of any person applying for
benefits under Department of Veterans Affairs programs. This
section also requires the SSN (if assigned) of any dependent or
beneficiary on whose behalf a person applies for veterans
benefits. 38 U.S.C. § 5101(c)(1).
Section 11112(a) of the same Act, P.L. 101-508, requires any
dependent who has attained age one before the close of the year
to be identified by a SSN for tax purposes. This section applies
to returns for taxable years beginning after December 31, 1990.

26 U.S.C. § 6109(e).

Section 1735(a) of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and
Trade Act of 1990, P.L. 101-624, authorizes the Secretary of
Agriculture to require the SSN of officers of wholesale food and
retail stores that redeem food stamps. Such numbers are to be
kept for the sole purpose of determining whether applicants have
been previously sanctioned or convicted under the Food Stamp
Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(iii)(I).
Section 2201(a) of the same Act, P.L. 101-624, requires SSNs as
a condition of eligibility for participation in the multiple peril
crop insurance program. 7 U.S.C. § 1506(m)(1).
Section 2201(b) of the same Act, P.L. 101-624, authorizes the
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to require each policyholder
and each reinsured company to furnish to the insurer or
Corporation the SSN of such policyholder. The SSN of each
individual who holds a substantial beneficial interest in the
policyholder may also be required. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(iv).
Section 2201(c) of the same Act, P.L. 101-624, requires that
SSNs maintained as a result of any law enacted on or after
October 1, 1990, will be kept confidential, and may not be
disclosed; penalties for unauthorized disclosures are provided.

42 U.S.C. 405(c)(2)(C).

Section 3611 of the Crime Control Act of 1990, P.L. 101-647,
adds federal debt collection procedures to be used by the United
States to recover a judgement on a debt owed to the United
States. Under these procedures an application by the United
States for a writ of garnishment against a debtor’s property must
include the judgement debtor’s SSN (if known). 28 U.S.C. §


1992Section 483 of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, P.L.

102-325, adds new guidelines for student financial aid
applications including a requirement that the preparer of the
application include his or her SSN. 20 U.S.C. § 1090(e).
Section 19143(c) of the Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act
of 1992, P.L. 102-486, requires that the United Mine Workers of
America Combined Benefit Fund furnish to the Commissioner of
Social Security the name and SSN of each eligible beneficiary.

26 U.S.C. § 9706(c).

Section 202 of the Anti Car Theft Act of 1992, P.L. 102-519,
provides that the operator of the National Motor Vehicle Title
Information System may not collect an individual’s SSN or
enable users of the information system to obtain an individual’s
SSN. 15 U.S.C. § 2042.
1993Section 13581(a) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of
1993, P.L. 103-66, establishes a Medicare and Medicaid
Coverage Data Bank to assist in third party payor collections
under Medicare and Medicaid. Employers are required to
provide the TIN (SSN) of group health plan employees and their
covered family members. 42 U.S.C. § 1320b-14(c)(5). (see 1996
amendment, P.L. 104-226, repealing this section).

1994Section 1(e) of the Revision of Title 49, the Transportation Code,

P.L. 103-272, repeals the prior provisions at 49 U.S.C. App. §§
2705 and 2706, and sets out similar provisions authorizing the
Secretary of Transportation to require the SSN on a commercial
driver’s license, and the operator’s SSN in the commercial
driver’s license information system. 49 U.S.C. §§ 31308 and


Section 1(e) of the same Act, P.L. 103-272, repeals the prior
provisions at 15 U.S.C. § 2042, and sets out similar provisions
prohibiting the collection or dissemination of individual SSNs by
the operator of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information
System. 49 U.S.C. § 30502(e)(2).

Section 1(e) of the same Act, P.L. 103-272, repeals the prior
provisions at 23 U.S.C. § 401 note, and sets out similar
provisions concerning reporting certain adverse driver’s license
information to the National Driver Register by participating
states’ chief driver licensing officials. 49 U.S.C. § 30304.
Section 4(f)(1)(Y)(i) of the same Act, P.L. 103-272, requires
persons applying for a loan under the Federal loan program and
persons doing business with a federal agency to furnish taxpayer
identification numbers (SSNs) to the agency. (31 U.S.C. § 7701).
Section 7(b) of the same Act, P.L. 103-272, repeals the
requirement set out at 26 U.S.C. § 6103 note requiring SSNs of
persons applying for federal loans.
Section 304 of the Social Security Independence and Program
Improvements Act of 1994, P.L. 103-296, allows state and local
governments to use SSNs for determining eligibility of potential
jurors. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(E).
Section 318 of the same Act, P.L. 103-296, authorizes the
Secretary of Labor to require by regulation that workers seeking
benefits under federal workers’ compensation laws provide their
SSNs. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(D).
Section 300002(a) of the Violent Crime Control Act of 1994,
P.L. 103-322, prohibits the release and use of certain personal
information (including SSNs) from state motor vehicle records,
with exceptions for certain permissible uses (known as the
Driver’s Privacy Protection Act). 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721 and


Section 101(a) of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and
Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1995, P.L.
103-333, directs federal and state agencies to make available to
the Secretary of Labor the SSNs of incarcerated persons
convicted of certain felonies for forfeiture of worker
compensation benefits. 5 U.S.C. § 8148(c).
Section 225 of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994, P.L. 103-
394, states that official notice from a debtor to a creditor shall
contain the debtor’s SSN. However, lack of inclusion of the SSN
does not invalidate the legal effect of the notice. 11 U.S.C. §


Section 308(a) of the same Act, P.L. 103-394, requires that a non-
attorney who prepares a bankruptcy petition provide his or her
SSN on the document. 11 U.S.C. § 110(c)(1) and (2).

Section 742 (a) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, P.L. 103-
465, provides that any taxpayer claiming an exemption or a
deduction on a tax return include the dependent’s SSN, for tax
years beginning after 12/31/94. 26 U.S.C. § 6109(e). (See also
P.L. 104-188.)

1996Section 734 of the National Defense Authorization Act for 1996,

P.L. 104-106, permits the Secretary of Defense to require
CHAMPUS beneficiaries to disclose their SSNs in order to
facilitate collections from third-party payors. 10 U.S.C. §


Section 1615(a) of the Small Business Job Protection Act, P.L.
104-188 moved the requirement of an SSN for individuals
claimed as dependents on tax returns to 26 U.S.C. § 151(e). See
also 26 U.S.C. § 32 (c)(3)(D)(i) which requires the SSN of a
“qualifying child” for identification purposes on a tax return. 26
U.S.C. § 151(e).
Section 221(a) of the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996, P.L. 104-191, provides that the
Health Care Fraud and Abuse Data Collection Program shall
include the SSNs of health care providers included in the data
base. 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7e.
Section 111 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193, directs the
Commissioner of Social Security to develop a prototype of a
counterfeit-resistant social security card. 42 U.S.C. § 405 note.
Section 202(b) of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, provides that the
Commissioner of Social Security shall furnish federal and state
law enforcement officers certain information, including SSNs,
regarding Supplemental Security Income recipients involved in
the commission of a crime. 42 U.S.C. § 1382(e).
Section 313 of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, requires states, as
part of their efforts to locate individuals who fail to pay child and
spousal support obligations, to establish a “Directory of New
Hires.” Upon hiring a new worker, employers must furnish the
worker’s SSN to the state directory so that information may be
matched with the federal registry and debt collection facilitated.

42 U.S.C. § 653a.

Section 316 of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, directs the Secretary
of Health and Human Services to establish in the Federal Parent
Locator Service an automated registry (“Federal Case Registry of
Child Support Orders”) containing certain information including
the SSNs of individuals who owe or are owed support. 42 U.S.C.
§ 653(h).

Section 317 of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, requires that the state
plan for child and spousal support include state procedures
requiring that the SSN of any applicant for a professional license,
commercial driver’s license, occupational license, or marriage
license be recorded on the application. If, however, a state allows
the use of a number other than the SSN, the state shall so advise
applicants. The SSN of any person subject to a divorce decree,
support order, or paternity determination or acknowledgment
must be placed in the appropriate records, and death certificates
must include the SSNs of individuals who have died. 42 U.S.C.

666(a)(13). (see 1997 amendment, P.L. 105-33).

Section 372 of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, requires that the state
plan for child and spousal support include procedures for data
matches with financial institutions using the SSNs of non-
custodial parents owing past-due support. 42 U.S.C. §


Section 903 of the same Act, P.L. 104-193, provides that public
housing agencies with contracts for federal housing assistance
shall furnish state or federal law enforcement officers certain
information, including the SSN of any recipient of federal
housing assistance, if the request is made in the exercise of the
officer’s official duties concerning the commission of a crime.

42 U.S.C. § 1437z.

Section 2422 of the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of
1996, Subtitle D of P.L. 104-208, requires a study by the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the FTC of
whether private organizations (excluding those subject the Fair
Credit Reporting Act) make sensitive consumer identification
information, including SSNs, available to the general public. 15
U.S.C. § 1681a note.
Section 414(a)(2) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, P.L. 104-208, requires the
Commissioner of Social Security to provide the Attorney General
with certain information on aliens whose SSN’s have earnings
reported (after January 1, 1997), but who are not authorized to
work in the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1360(c)(2).
Section 414(b) of the same Act, P.L. 104-208, directs the
Commissioner of Social Security to issue a report to the Attorney
General on the extent to which SSNs and cards are used by aliens
for fraudulent purposes. 8 U.S.C. § 1360 note.
Section 415 of the same Act, P.L. 104-208, authorizes the
Attorney General to require any alien to provide the alien’s SSN
for inclusion in any record of the alien maintained by the
Attorney General or the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

8 U.S.C. § 1304(f).

Section 551(a) of the same Act, P.L. 104-208, requires the SSN
of sponsors agreeing to supply financial support to certain aliens
working in the United States. 8 U.S.C. § 1183a.
Section 656 of the same Act, P.L. 104-208 provides federal
standards for state driver’s licenses and birth certificates when
used as identification-related documents. Driver’s licenses must
contain a SSN that can be read visually or electronically, except
that if a state does not require SSNs on a driver’s license, the
state must still require applicants to submit their SSNs which
must be verified with the Social Security Administration. The
Secretary of HHS is to submit a report to Congress on ways to
reduce the fraudulent use of birth certificates to obtain SSNs and
other identifying information. 5 U.S.C. § 301 note. (see 1999
amendment, P.L. 106-69, repealing this section).
Section 1 of the Medicare and Medicaid Coverage Data Bank,
Repeal Act, P.L. 104-226 repeals the Medicare and Medicaid
coverage data bank, formerly at 42 U.S.C. § 1320b-14.
Section 6(b)(1) of the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996,
P.L. 104-272, requires boxers to register with state boxing
commissions and receive an identification card containing certain
information, including the SSNs of the boxers. 15 U.S.C. § 6305.

1997Section 4313 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, P.L. 105-33,

requires providers under Medicare, Medicaid and certain other
health care programs to supply identifying information (including
SSNs). The same information must be provided for entities in
which medical providers under such programs have an ownership
or control interest. Before the Secretary of HHS implements
these requirements, a report is to be sent to Congress on steps
taken to assure confidentiality of SSNs to be collected. 42
U.S.C. § 1320a-3.
Section 5536 of the same Act, P.L. 105-33, changes state
requirements for child and spousal support enforcement to
require the SSN on any application for a professional license,
driver’s license, occupational license, recreational license, or
marriage license. A state may use a number other than the social
security number on the face of such documents while the SSN is
kept on file at the state agency. 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(13).
Section 1090 of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, P.L. 105-34,
requires an applicant for an SSN under age 18 to provide his or
her parents’ SSNs in addition to other required evidence of age,
identity and citizenship. 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(B)(ii).

Section 1090(a)(1) and (2) of the same Act, P.L. 105-34, requires
that each record in the state case registry for child support
enforcement include, after October 1, 1999, the SSN of any child
for whom support has been ordered. Such information shall also
be included in the Federal Case Registry of Child Support Orders.

42 U.S.C. § 654a(e)(4)(D) and 653(h).

Section 2 of the Census of Agriculture Act of 1997, P.L. 105-113,
authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a census of
agriculture every five years. A person may refuse to disclose his
or her SSN in response to census questions and no penalty will be
assessed for such refusal. 7 U.S.C. § 2204g.
Section 211 of the Food and Drug Administration Modernization
Act of 1997, P.L. 105-115, requires manufacturers to track
certain devices implanted in the human body. Patients may
refuse to release, or refuse permission to release, identifying
information, including SSNs, used for tracking such devices. 21
U.S.C. § 360i(e)(2).

1998Section 419 of the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, P.L.

105-244, requires that the SSN of a parent applying for higher
education federal PLUS loan be verified. 20 U.S.C. § 1078-2.
Section 482(a)(5) of the same Act, P.L. 105-244, authorizes the
Secretary of the Department of Education to include, on the
financial reporting form, space for the SSNs of parents of
dependent students applying for financial assistance. 20 U.S.C. §


Section 127 of the Department of Justice Appropriations Act,

1999, P.L. 105-277, provides that certain personal information,

including SSNs, of correctional facility employees involved in
lawsuits brought by prisoners, may not be disclosed without
written consent of the employee or pursuant to a court order,
unless a verdict of liability has been entered against the
employee. (set out as a note to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e, and applicable
to FY2000, and thereafter, pursuant to P.L. 106-113, Div. B, §

1000(a)(1), Title I, § 109).

Section 1302(8) of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
of 1998, P.L. 105-277, prohibits commercial Internet websites or
online services from collecting or disclosing personal identifying
information (including SSNs) of children under the age of 13,
except under certain circumstances. 15 U.S.C. § 6501(8).
Section 101(a) of the Protection of Children from Sexual
Predators Act of 1998, P.L. 105-314, makes it a federal crime for
a person to transmit in interstate commerce certain identifying
information (including SSNs) of minors under the age of 16,
with the intent of soliciting sexual activity. 18 U.S.C. § 2425.

Section 3 of the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of
1998, P.L. 105-318, adds a new federal crime, “identity theft” to
Title 18 of the United States Code. This provision makes it a
felony to steal another person’s personal identification
information (including a person’s SSN) with the intent to
commit an unlawful act. 18 U.S.C. § 1028.
1999Section 350 of the Department of Transportation and Related
Agencies Appropriations Act, 2000, P.L. 106-69, provides, as a
condition of receipt of funds under this Act, that states use an
affirmative “opt-in” system for obtaining consent by drivers to
disclose driver’s personal information for use in surveys,
marketing, solicitations and certain other purposes. (not codified;
but see 2000 permanent provision, P.L. 106-346).
Section 355 of the same Act, P.L. 106-69, repeals Section 656(b)
of P.L. 104-208, which required federal standards for driver’s
licenses for purposes of identification for federal programs. 5
U.S.C. § 301 note.
Title V of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, P.L. 106-102, imposed
privacy and security obligations on financial institutions with
respect to customers’ personally identifiable financial
information, including SSNs. (15 U.S.C. § 6801 et seq.).
Section 251(a) of the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, P.L.
106-169, requires the Commissioner of Social Security to verify
the SSNs of persons applying to be representative payees for
certain World War II veterans receiving special benefits. 42
U.S.C. § 1007(b)(2)(B).
2000Section 309 of the Department of Transportation and Related
Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001, P.L. 106-346, amends the
Driver’s Privacy Protection Act to require states to obtain express
consent of drivers before sharing or selling drivers’ “highly
restricted personal information” including SSNs, except under
limited circumstances. 18 U.S.C. § 2721(a).
Section 3650 (Div. C., Title XXXVI of the Depts. of Defense and
Energy Appropriations Act), of the Energy Employees
Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, P.L.
106-398, directs federal or state agencies to provide SSNs of
certain incarcerated felons to the President if requested, for
forfeiture of benefits under the energy employees occupational
illness compensation program. 42 U.S.C. § 7385i(b).
Section 2 of the Social Security Number Confidentiality Act of
2000, P.L. 106-433, provides that SSNs not be visible on or
through unopened mailings of checks issued by the Department
of the Treasury. 31 U.S.C. § 3327.

Section 635 of the District of Columbia Appropriations Act for
FY2001, P.L. 106-553, would have prohibited the sale or display
of SSNs (“Amy Boyer’s Law”), but was rescinded on the same
day by Section 213(a)(6) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act,
P.L. 106-554.
2001Section 431 of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief
Reconciliation Act of 2001, P.L. 107-16, requires the SSN of a
student on a taxpayer’s income tax form in order to claim a
deduction for qualified tuition expenses. 26 U.S.C. § 222(d)(2).

2002Section 602 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, P.L. 107-

110, amends the National Education Statistics Act of 1994 to
prohibit the maintenance of any system of records by the Center
for Education Statistics containing a student’s personally
identifiable information, including SSNs. 20 U.S.C. §


The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and
Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for
FY2002, P.L. 107-116, provides that the Secretary of Labor may
require the SSN of any person filing a claim for benefits under
the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (5 U.S.C. § 8101 et
seq.), the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation
Act (42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.), or the Longshore and Harbor
Workers’ Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq.). (not
Section 303 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, P.L. 107-252,
requires that states obtain certain information from persons
registering to vote in federal elections, including the applicant’s
driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of the applicant’s SSN.
If an applicant has neither, the state shall assign a number to
identify the applicant for voter registration purposes. 42 U.S.C.
2003Section 115 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of
2003, P.L. 108-159, requires, upon request, the truncation of
social security numbers on credit reports provided to a consumer.
(15 U.S.C. §1681g(a)(1)(A)).
2004Section 7213 Of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
Prevention Act of 2004, P.L. 108-458, restricts replacement
social security number cards to 3 per year and 10 for the life of
the individual, establishes minimum standards for verification of
documents for an SSN card, and requires independent verification
of birth records for obtaining SSN cards. This section also
provides for improvements to the enumeration at birth program
for the issuance of SSNs to newborns.

Section 7214 of the same Act, P.L. 108-458, prohibits states from
displaying a SSN on any driver’s license, motor vehicle
registration, or personal identification card, effective for licenses,
registrations, and identification cards issued or reissued one year
after enactment. (42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2)(C)(vi)(I)).
2005Sections 221, 231, and 234 of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention
and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, P.L. 109-8, add
provisions to discourage abusive bankruptcy filings and to protect
personally identifiable information, including social security
numbers. (11 U.S.C. §§ 107, 110, 342(c), and 363(b)(1))
Section 202 of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act
for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief,
2005, P.L. 109-13, sets minimum standards (including social
security numbers) for state driver’s license or identification cards
for acceptance by federal agencies. (49 U.S.C. § 30301 note).
The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and
Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for
FY2005, P.L. 109-149, provides that the Secretary of Labor may
require the SSN of any person filing a notice of injury or claim
for benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (5
U.S.C. § 8101 et seq.) or the Longshore and Harbor Workers’
Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq.). (not codified).
2006Section 3 of the Violence Against Women and Department of
Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005, P.L. 109-162, provides that
grantees under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 shall
not disclose certain personal information, including social
security numbers, collected in connection with services provided
by grantees under that program. (42 U.S.C. § 13925).
Section 605 of the same Act, P.L. 109-162, amends Section 423
of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act to provide
that victim service providers not disclose personally identifying
information, including SSNs, about any client. (42 U.S.C. §


Section 6036 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, P.L. 109-171,
specifies new documentation requirements for Medicaid
applicants to establish citizenship or nationality. (42 U.S.C.


Section 114 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
of 2006, P.L. 109-248, requires that sex offenders provide certain
information for inclusion in the sex offender registry, including
the SSN of the sex offender. (42 U.S.C. § 16914).

Section 2 of P.L. 109-250 provides that if a state agency
responsible for a food stamp program transmits to the Secretary
of Agriculture the names and SSNs of individuals, the Secretary
shall disclose to the state agency information on the individuals
and their employers maintained in the National Directory of New
Hires. (42 U.S.C. § 653(j)).
2007Section 304(b)(3) of the Honest Leadership and Open
Government Act of 2007, P.L. 110-81, provides that Members of
the House of Representatives may omit personally identifiable
information (including SSNs) in reports required to be posted on
the Internet relating to travel expenses and ethics. (2 U.S.C. §


The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, P.L. 110-161,
provides that the Secretary of Labor may require the SSN of any
person filing a notice of injury or a claim for benefits under the
Federal Employees Compensation Act (5 U.S.C. § 8101 et seq.),
the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (33
U.S.C. § 901 et seq.), and the Energy Employees Occupational
Illness Compensation Program Act (42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.).
Section 202 of the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, P.L.
110-177, criminalizes the intentional and malicious publication
of personal information (including SSNs) of certain judicial
officials and their immediate families. (18 U.S.C. § 119).

2008Section 101 of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, P.L. 110-

185, allows certain tax credits for individuals, spouses, and
qualifying children with valid SSNs. (26 U.S.C. § 6428(h)(2)).
Section 1603 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008,
P.L. 110-234, requires that persons with ownership interests in
certain legal entities receiving agricultural commodities payments
provide their SSNs. (7 U.S.C. § 1308-1(a)(1)).
Section 451 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, P.L. 110-
315, requires the Secretary of the Department of Education to
ensure that direct student loan statements and other Department
publications do not contain more than four digits of the SSN of
any individual. (20 U.S.C. § 1087e(n)).
Section 483 of the same act, P.L. 110-315, provides that financial
forms for student loans developed by the Secretary of the
Department of Education include space for the SSNs of parents
of dependent students seeking loans. If an applicant uses a paid
preparer to complete a financial aid form, the preparer must also
include his or her SSN. (20 U.S.C. § 1090).