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  • News: SSA Final Rule re SSN Card Applications

    Federal Register, Volume 80 Issue 153 (Monday, August 10, 2015)
    [Federal Register Volume 80, Number 153 (Monday, August 10, 2015)]
    [Rules and Regulations]
    [Pages 47831-47834]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2015-19568]
    
    
    =======================================================================
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
    
    20 CFR Part 422
    
    [Docket No. SSA-2014-0042]
    RIN 0960-AH68
    
    
    Social Security Number Card Applications
    
    AGENCY: Social Security Administration.
    
    ACTION: Final rule.
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    SUMMARY: This final rule adopts the notice of proposed rulemaking 
    (NPRM) we published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2015. This 
    rule revises our regulations to allow applicants for a Social Security 
    number (SSN) card to apply by completing a prescribed application and 
    submitting the required evidence. We are also removing the word 
    ``documentary'' from our description of certain evidence requirements 
    and replacing ``Immigration and Naturalization Service'' with 
    ``Department of Homeland Security'' to reflect that agency's creation. 
    These changes will provide more flexibility in the ways in which the 
    public may request SSN cards and allow us to implement an online SSN 
    replacement card application system.
    
    DATES: This rule is effective September 9, 2015.
    
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arthur LaVeck, Office of Retirement 
    and Disability Policy, Office of Income Security Programs, Social 
    Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-
    6401, (410) 966-5665. For information on eligibility or filing for 
    benefits, call our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-
    800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, at 
    http://www.socialsecurity.gov.
    
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The use of the SSN is widespread in today's 
    society. It is necessary for employment, to record properly a person's 
    wages and the taxes paid on those wages, to collect Social Security 
    benefits, and to receive many other government services. Commercial 
    organizations, such as banks and credit companies, also ask individuals 
    for their SSNs for many business transactions. Because of this 
    widespread use, the issuance of original and replacement SSN cards is 
    one of our most requested services.
        Currently, a person can 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, or by having one of our 
    representatives file an application electronically through the Social 
    Security Number Application Process during an in-office interview. The 
    applicant must also present, or mail in, supporting documentary 
    evidence.
        To ensure that our regulations support the development of 
    convenient and efficient electronic service delivery options, we are 
    updating 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. We are also removing references to Form SS-
    5 and replacing it 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 we 
    determine to be most efficient and user-friendly at any given time. 
    Information about application procedures is easily available to 
    applicants on our Internet site and at our offices nationwide.
        We are also revising 20 CFR 422.107 to remove the word 
    ``documentary'' from our description of evidence required to obtain an 
    original or replacement SSN card. In order to obtain a new or 
    replacement card, applicants may provide or we may obtain evidence to 
    establish eligibility and identity through data matches or other 
    agreements with government agencies or other entities that we determine 
    can provide us with appropriate and secure verification of the 
    applicant's true identity and other eligibility factors. These changes 
    will provide us the flexibility to adapt our SSN application process as 
    necessity and technology allow.
        We are developing and will release--via a gradual, state-by-state 
    rollout--a new online application that will allow adult U.S. citizens 
    who are not reporting any changes to their record (for example, name or 
    date of birth) to apply for replacement SSN cards electronically online 
    after registering through the my Social Security portal. Eligible 
    individuals would also be required to have a U.S. mailing address, 
    (including Air/Army Post Office and Fleet Post Office) and a valid U.S. 
    state-issued driver's license or U.S. state-issued identity card.
        Our new electronic SSN replacement card application will expand our 
    service options to meet the varied needs of the public in a cost-
    efficient and environmentally responsible way, while maintaining the 
    security and integrity of the SSN replacement card issuance process. 
    The application will allow customers to complete a request for a 
    replacement SSN card at any time, without the need to travel, sometimes 
    long distances, to apply in person. We also anticipate that this 
    initiative will
    
    [[Page 47832]]
    
    contribute to shorter wait times for individuals who choose to visit an 
    FO for service.
        We are also making a technical change to Sec.  422.107(e)(1) to 
    replace references to the ``Immigration and Naturalization Service'' 
    with ``Department of Homeland Security'' to reflect that agency's 
    restructuring in 2003. This is not a substantive change, but merely 
    makes our rules consistent with the current organizational structure of 
    the government.
    
    Public Comments
    
        On February 26, 2015, we published an NPRM in the Federal Register 
    at 80 FR 10432 and provided a 60-day comment period. We received 17 
    comments on the proposed rule.\1\ We present all of the views received 
    and address all of the relevant and significant issues raised by the 
    commenters. We carefully considered the concerns expressed in these 
    comments. We have made no changes to the proposed regulatory language 
    based on the comments we received.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \1\ The electronic rulemaking docket for this rule (available 
    at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=SSA-2014-0042) 
    indicates that we received 205 comments on the proposed rule. Of 
    those 205 comments, 188 were not relevant to this rulemaking 
    proceeding. These comments came from an individual who submitted 
    personal documents and complained about a non-Social Security-
    related matter. We have not included these 188 comments in the 
    electronic rulemaking docket and have not responded to them here.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    Online SSN Replacement Card Applications
    
        Commenters overwhelmingly supported our initiative to allow for 
    electronic applications for replacement SSN cards. Many discussed how 
    the initiative would provide greater access to those who need to travel 
    long distances to reach their local FOs. Most also wrote about how the 
    initiative would simplify and speed up the process of applying for 
    replacement SSN cards and would reduce processing time and repeated 
    trips to FOs due to inadvertent mistakes, such as missing or incorrect 
    identification.
        At the same time, most commenters emphasized the need to ensure the 
    security of data during the SSN replacement card online application 
    process. Specifically, commenters expressed concerns regarding hacking, 
    identity theft, and fraud prevention.
        Response: We understand the extraordinary breadth and sensitivity 
    of the personally identifiable information we possess in our systems 
    and we have always taken our responsibility for protecting that 
    information very seriously. Over the past several years, we have 
    developed a number of online applications that allow members of the 
    public to apply for benefits or conduct other business with us through 
    Internet-based applications. When we design these Internet-based 
    applications, we take a number of steps to ensure that the data 
    provided to us is secure. Since May 2012, we have allowed the 
    electronic exchange with individuals of their own personal information 
    for their own exclusive use through our my Social Security portal 
    without any breach to our data. We use a multi-layered security 
    framework, redundant processes, and specialized technologies to ensure 
    the security of the data we receive. In addition, we constantly monitor 
    all online activity to ensure proper use of agency Web sites, portals, 
    and applications. In the event we identify any suspicious activity, we 
    take prompt and aggressive steps to quarantine the activity and 
    mitigate any risks to our systems or personal records.
        We also take our fraud prevention responsibility very seriously. We 
    verify customer identity using information available via a variety of 
    data sources to ensure that all online communication is with the proper 
    individual. We are fully compliant with the Office of Management and 
    Budget's (OMB) e-authentication guidance for Federal agencies and the 
    National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) electronic 
    authentication guidelines.\2\ In addition to our adherence to the OMB 
    and NIST controls, we operate under a multi-layered security approach 
    that provides due diligence for the users of my Social Security. 
    Included in our approach is an authentication risk assessment process 
    established by OMB's guidance, that determines the appropriate level of 
    assurance for all of our electronic transactions. Once we determine the 
    appropriate level of assurance needed for each transaction, we 
    determine the technology and authentication strategy. This strategy may 
    include sending a written notification to the verified address for 
    everyone who creates a my Social Security account.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \2\ OMB M-04-04, E-Authentication Guidance for Federal Agencies; 
    NIST Special Publication 800 63-2, Electronic Authentication 
    Guideline.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        We employ a dynamic enterprise-wide cyber security program and 
    leverage a defense-in-depth strategy. We work diligently to detect 
    attacks, identify suspicious activities, and systematically respond to 
    software and hardware vulnerabilities as they are identified. We 
    collaborate with White House national security staff, the Federal Chief 
    Information Officer, the Department of Homeland Security's United 
    States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, and various law enforcement 
    agencies to address cyber threats.
        In the event that we detect suspicious activity, we will refer the 
    customer to the local Social Security office for in-person assistance.
    
    Evidentiary Requirements and Removal of the Word ``Documentary''
    
        Comment: Four individuals specifically stated their support for the 
    removal of the word ``documentary'' from 20 CFR 422.107 and the 
    flexibility it would provide us for appropriately and securely 
    verifying applicants' true identity and other eligibility factors. 
    Other commenters expressed unease about the possibility of fraud 
    resulting from the removal of the word ``documentary.'' Of those who 
    expressed unease, some of the commenters were concerned about how the 
    public would ``interpret'' removing the word ``documentary'' and what 
    it ``impli[es]'' about the evidence we require in order to obtain an 
    original or replacement card. Other commenters were concerned that 
    illegal immigrants would be able to obtain SSNs by providing false 
    information, were unsatisfied with the evidence of identity required 
    under Sec.  422.107(c), or suggested that no child should get a card 
    without appearing in person.
        Response: Our proposed rule did not change the evidentiary 
    requirements needed to obtain an original or replacement SSN card but 
    simply provided us and the public with different options for verifying 
    an applicant's true identity and other eligibility factors, as 
    appropriate. We will continue to require the same evidence to establish 
    citizenship, age, and identity in order to obtain a new or replacement 
    SSN card. Under our new rules, applicants may provide, or we may 
    obtain, this evidence through data matches or other agreements with 
    government agencies or other entities that we determine can provide us 
    with appropriate and secure verification of the applicant's true 
    identity and other eligibility factors. Removal of the word 
    ``documentary'' does not imply any modification to the evidentiary 
    requirements established in Sec.  422.107, nor should it result in any 
    interpretation other than the plain language in that section.
        We process the vast majority of original SSN applications for 
    children as part of the official birth registration process described 
    in Sec.  422.103(a)(2) that generally takes place at a U.S. hospital 
    shortly after a child's birth. While we
    
    [[Page 47833]]
    
    may not require a child to visit a Social Security office in the few 
    instances when we do not assign an SSN through the birth registration 
    process, we follow robust evidence review and verification policies in 
    our SSN issuance process for children. When we do not assign SSNs for 
    children as part of the official birth registration process, the parent 
    or proper applicant must submit evidence about the child to satisfy the 
    same requirements as adults. In addition, the proper applicant must 
    establish relationship to and custody or responsibility for the child, 
    and must submit evidence of his or her own identity. We visually 
    inspect all evidence for authenticity. In addition, under the 
    Intelligence Reform Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2014 we must verify 
    U.S. birth records with the custodian of the record before we process 
    the SSN application.\3\ We verify immigration documents directly with 
    the Department of Homeland Security if the child is a non-citizen.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \3\ Public Law 108-458, 118 Stat. 3638.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    Replacing Reference to Immigration and Naturalization Service With 
    Department of Homeland Security
    
        Comment: One commenter stated a concern with our updating 20 CFR 
    422.107(e)(1) to replace references to Immigration and Naturalization 
    Service (INS) with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and requested 
    a greater explanation as to why there is a need to do so.
        Response: We have not made any changes to the proposed rule in 
    response to this comment. Section 422.107(e)(1) of our current 
    regulations discusses what evidence we will accept to verify alien 
    status, specifically evidence issued by the Immigration and 
    Naturalization Service in accordance with that agency's regulations. On 
    March 1, 2003, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the 
    pertinent functions of the former INS were transferred to the newly 
    formed DHS. We are not changing the evidence we require, but are simply 
    updating the name of the agency responsible for issuing the evidence to 
    applicants.
    
    Regulatory Procedures
    
    Executive Order 12866, as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563
    
        We consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
    determined that this final rule meets the criteria for a significant 
    regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, as supplemented by 
    Executive Order 13563, and was reviewed by OMB.
    
    Regulatory Flexibility Act
    
        We certify that this final rule would not have a significant 
    economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it 
    would affect individuals only. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility 
    analysis is not required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as 
    amended.
    
    Paperwork Reduction Act
    
        Although the regulatory changes described below are not subject to 
    OMB clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the new 
    electronic SSN replacement card application will require OMB PRA 
    approval. We sought public comment in two separate PRA Federal Register 
    Notices (FRN) for the new electronic process under OMB No. 0960-0066 
    (the first Notice published on 04/30/15 at 80 FR 24307, and the second 
    Notice published on 06/29/15 at 80 FR 37033). We completed the PRA OMB 
    clearance process by submitting the documentation to OMB on 06/29/15, 
    and we will wait for OMB's approval before we implement the electronic 
    SSN replacement card application. The public had an opportunity to 
    review and comment on the electronic SSN replacement card application 
    through those FRNs.
    
    (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001, Social 
    Security--Disability Insurance; 96.002, Social Security--Retirement 
    Insurance; 96.004, Social Security Survivors Insurance; 96.006, 
    Supplemental Security Income; 96.020, Special Benefits for Certain 
    World War II Veterans.)
    
    List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 422
    
        Administrative practice and procedure, Organization and functions 
    (Government agencies), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social 
    security.
    
        Dated: August 5, 2015.
    Carolyn W. Colvin,
    Acting Commissioner of Social Security.
    
        For the reasons set out in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR chapter 
    III, part 422, subpart B as set forth below:
    
    PART 422--ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURES
    
    Subpart B--General Procedures
    
    0
    1. The authority citation for subpart B of part 422 continues to read 
    as follows:
    
        Authority: Secs. 205, 232, 702(a)(5), 1131, and 1143 of the 
    Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405, 432, 902(a)(5), 1320b-1, and 
    1320b-13), and sec. 7213(a)(1)(A) of Pub. L. 108-458.
    
    
    0
    2. Amend Sec.  422.103 by revising paragraphs (b), (c)(1), and (e)(1) 
    to read as follows:
    
    
    Sec.  422.103  Social security numbers.
    
    * * * * *
        (b) Applying for a number--(1) Application. An individual needing a 
    Social Security number may apply for one by completing a prescribed 
    application and submitting the required evidence. An individual outside 
    the United States (U.S.) may apply for a Social Security number card at 
    the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office, Manila, 
    Philippines, at any U.S. Foreign Service post, or at a U.S. military 
    post outside the United States. (See Sec.  422.106 for special 
    procedures for filing applications with other government agencies.) 
    Additionally, a U.S. resident may apply for a Social Security number 
    for a nonresident dependent when the number is necessary for U.S. tax 
    purposes or some other valid reason, the evidence requirements of Sec.  
    422.107 are met, and we determine that a personal interview with the 
    dependent is not required.
        (2) Birth registration document. We may enter into an agreement 
    with officials of a State, including, for this purpose, the District of 
    Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and New York 
    City, to establish, as part of the official birth registration process, 
    a procedure to assist us in assigning Social Security numbers to 
    newborn children. Where an agreement is in effect, a parent, as part of 
    the official birth registration process, need not complete a prescribed 
    application and may request that we assign a Social Security number to 
    the newborn child.
        (3) Immigration form. We may enter into an agreement with the 
    Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 
    to assist us by collecting enumeration data as part of the immigration 
    process. Where an agreement is in effect, an alien need not complete a 
    prescribed application and may request, through DOS or DHS, as part of 
    the immigration process, that we assign a Social Security number and 
    issue a Social Security number card to him or her. An alien will 
    request the assignment of a Social Security number through this process 
    in the manner provided by DOS and DHS.
        (c) How numbers are assigned--(1) Application. If you complete a 
    prescribed application, we will require you to furnish evidence, as 
    necessary, to assist us in establishing your age, U.S. citizenship or 
    alien status, true identity, and previously assigned Social Security 
    number(s), if any. (See Sec.  422.107 for evidence requirements.) We 
    may require you to undergo a personal interview before we assign a 
    Social Security number. If you request evidence to show that you have 
    filed a prescribed
    
    [[Page 47834]]
    
    application for a Social Security number card, we may furnish you with 
    a receipt or equivalent document. We will electronically screen the 
    data from the prescribed application against our files. If we find that 
    you have not been assigned a Social Security number previously, we will 
    assign one to you and issue a Social Security number card. However, if 
    we find that you have been assigned a Social Security number 
    previously, we will issue a replacement Social Security number card.
    * * * * *
        (e) Replacement of Social Security number card--(1) When we may 
    issue you a replacement card. We may issue you a replacement Social 
    Security number card, subject to the limitations in paragraph (e)(2) of 
    this section. You must complete a prescribed application to receive a 
    replacement Social Security number card. We follow the evidence 
    requirements in Sec.  422.107 when we issue you a replacement Social 
    Security number card.
    * * * * *
    
    0
    3. Amend Sec.  422.107 by:
    0
    a. Revising paragraphs (a) and (c);
    0
    b. In paragraph (e)(1), removing each instance of ``Immigration and 
    Naturalization Service'' and adding in its place, ``Department of 
    Homeland Security''; and
    0
    c. Revising paragraph (g).
        The revisions read as follows:
    
    
    Sec.  422.107  Evidence requirements.
    
        (a) General. To obtain an original Social Security number card, you 
    must submit convincing evidence of your age, U.S. citizenship or alien 
    status, and true identity, as described in paragraphs (b) through (e) 
    of this section. If you apply for a replacement Social Security number 
    card, you must submit convincing evidence of your true identity, as 
    described in paragraph (c) of this section, and you may also be 
    required to submit convincing evidence of your age and U.S. citizenship 
    or alien status, as described in paragraphs (b), (d), and (e) of this 
    section. If you apply for an original or replacement Social Security 
    number card, you are also required to submit evidence to assist us in 
    determining the existence and identity of any previously assigned 
    Social Security number(s). We will not assign a Social Security number 
    or issue an original or replacement card unless we determine that you 
    meet all of the evidence requirements. We require an in-person 
    interview if you are age 12 or older and are applying for an original 
    Social Security number, unless you are an alien who requests a Social 
    Security number as part of the immigration process described in Sec.  
    422.103(b)(3). We may require an in-person interview of other 
    applicants. All paper or other tangible documents submitted as evidence 
    must be originals or copies of the original documents certified by the 
    custodians of the original records and are subject to verification. We 
    may also verify your eligibility factors, as described in paragraphs 
    (b) through (e) of this section, through other means, including but not 
    limited to data matches or other agreements with government agencies or 
    other entities that we determine can provide us with appropriate and 
    secure verification of your eligibility factors.
    * * * * *
        (c) Evidence of identity. (1) If you apply for an original Social 
    Security number or a replacement Social Security number card, you are 
    required to submit convincing evidence of your identity. Evidence of 
    identity may consist of a driver's license, identification card, school 
    record, medical record, marriage record, passport, Department of 
    Homeland Security document, or other similar evidence serving to 
    identify you. The evidence must contain sufficient information to 
    identify you, including your name and:
        (i) Your age, date of birth, or parents' names; or
        (ii) Your photograph or physical description.
        (2) A birth record is not sufficient evidence to establish identity 
    for these purposes.
    * * * * *
        (g) Inability to verify eligibility factors. We will not issue an 
    original or replacement Social Security number card when you present 
    invalid or expired documents or when we are unable to verify the 
    required evidence through other means, as described in paragraph (a) of 
    this section. Invalid documents are either forged documents that 
    supposedly were issued by the custodian of the record, or properly 
    issued documents that were improperly changed after they were issued. 
    An expired document is one that was valid for only a limited time and 
    that time has passed.
    
    0
    4. Amend Sec.  422.110 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    
    
    Sec.  422.110  Individual's request for change in record.
    
        (a) Application. If you wish to change the name or other personal 
    identifying information you previously submitted in connection with an 
    application for a Social Security number card, you must complete a 
    prescribed application, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this 
    section. You must prove your identity, and you may be required to 
    provide other evidence. (See Sec.  422.107 for evidence requirements.) 
    You may complete a request for change in records in the manner we 
    designate, including at any Social Security office, or, if you are 
    outside the U.S., to the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional 
    Office, Manila, Philippines, or to any U.S. Foreign Service post or 
    U.S. military post. If your request is for a change of name on the card 
    (that is, verified legal changes to the first name or surname, or 
    both), we may issue you a replacement Social Security number card 
    bearing the same number and the new name. We will grant an exception to 
    the limitations specified in Sec.  422.103(e)(2) for replacement Social 
    Security number cards representing a change in name or, if you are an 
    alien, a change to a restrictive legend shown on the card. (See Sec.  
    422.103(e)(3) for the definition of a change to a restrictive legend.)
    * * * * *
    [FR Doc. 2015-19568 Filed 8-7-15; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 4191-02-P
    
    
    
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