SSA to revise its regulations on applications for SSN cards

The SSA is proposing to revise its regulations to allow applicants for a Social Security number (SSN) card to apply by completing a prescribed application and submitting the required evidence, rather than by completing a paper Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. The agency also proposes to remove the word “documentary” from its description of certain evidence requirements. These changes would provide flexibility in the ways in which the public may request SSN cards and allow the SSA, in the future, to implement an online SSN replacement card application system, which the agency is currently developing. In addition, the SSA proposes to replace “Immigration and Naturalization Service” with “Department of Homeland Security” to reflect that agency’s reorganization. Comments on the proposed regulations must be received no later than April 27, 2015.

Currently, a person may apply for an SSN by completing Form SS-5 and submitting it, in person or via mail, to his or her local field office (FO) or a Social Security Card Center (SSCC), or by having an SSA representatives file an application electronically through the Social Security Number Application Process (SSNAP) during an in-office interview. The applicant must also present, or mail in, supporting documentary evidence.

To ensure the SSN regulations support the development of convenient and efficient electronic service delivery options, the SSA proposes to update 20 CFR 422.103 and 422.110 to remove the requirement that an individual who seeks a replacement SSN card must file an application at any Social Security office. The SSA also proposes to remove references to Form SS-5 because its current process allows the agency to file an application electronically through SSNAP without the completion of a paper Form SS-5, and its planned online application will not require the completion of a paper Form SS–5. The SSA would replace, in instances where a description is necessary, mention of Form SS-5 with the term “prescribed application.” A prescribed application would simply be the application form–whether a paper form, an online application, or some other method–that the agency determines to be most efficient and user-friendly at any given time. Information about application procedures would be easily available to applicants on the SSA’s Internet site and at offices nationwide.

The SSA also proposes to revise 20 CFR 422.107 to remove the word “documentary” from its description of evidence required to obtain an original or replacement SSN card. It would still require evidence to establish eligibility and identity in order to obtain a new or replacement card. However, the SSA would revise its rules so that applicants may provide or the agency may obtain other types of evidence to satisfy the requirement, such as through data matches or other agreements with government agencies or other entities that the SSA determines can provide it with appropriate and secure verification of the applicant’s true identity and other eligibility factors.

These changes would provide the SSA with the flexibility it needs to adapt the SSN application process as necessity and technology allow. They would allow the agency to offer the public new, convenient service alternatives for obtaining SSN replacement cards, while maintaining the security and integrity of the SSN card and issuance process. The SSA also expects these changes would reduce the public’s need to visit its FOs, resulting in shorter wait times for individuals who choose to visit a FO for service. (80 Fed. Reg. 10432, February 26, 2015.)

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