When the Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935, it created the retirement and Social Security disability programs that millions of retired and disabled workers continue to rely upon today. The program, which based the benefits that workers would receive on their lifetime earnings, created the need for a method of keeping track of how much every worker in the United States earned. The result was implementation of the Social Security number in 1936.
The number assigned to each person at birth was originally intended solely for the purpose of tracking earnings throughout a worker’s lifetime. Modern use of the Social Security number has evolved far beyond what its creators imagined for it more than 85 years ago. Today, it has developed into almost a national identification number required by private businesses, banks and financial institutions, and government agencies.
What are some of the reasons that you may need a Social Security number?
Federal legislation has greatly expanded permitted uses of Social Security numbers beyond their original purpose. A few of the identification uses resulting from federal laws include:
- 1). Registration for the military draft
- 2). Commercial driver’s licenses
- 3). Owners of stores that accept food stamps
- 4). Dependents that you claim on your income states
- 5). Establishing eligibility for federal housing programs
- 6). Identification of blood donors
The use of Social Security numbers to identify and track parents who fail to pay child support now requires Social Security numbers to be included in many legal documents issued by state governments, including:
- 1). Professional licenses, such as real estate agent and broker licenses
- 2). Driver’s licenses
- 3). Birth certificates
- 4). Death certificates
- 5). Divorce decrees, child support orders and paternity determinations
- 6). Marriage licenses
- 7). Filing state and federal income tax returns
- 8). Obtaining a passport
In addition to its expansion throughout all levels of government, use of Social Security numbers in the private sector has exploded.
Other activities that require Social Security numbers
According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security number has become the method used most frequently in the United States to maintain records in order to easily associate them with a specific person. For example, you may need to disclose your Social Security number for the following activities:
- 1). Opening an account at a bank, credit union or other type of financial institution
- 2). Applying for a personal loan
- 3). Applying for a mortgage to purchase or refinance a home or other type of real property
- 4). Federal and state student loan programs
- 5). State unemployment and workers’ compensation programs
- 6). Obtaining a credit card
Chances are that the forms you completed on your first visit to a doctor’s office asked for your Social Security number along with the other personal and medical information they requested.
Obviously, if you apply for Social Security disability or retirement benefits, you must disclose your Social Security number. Requests for your number have become so common that you may wonder what happens if you refuse to disclose it.
Is it unlawful for a business to ask for my Social Security number?
Banks, schools, businesses, credit card companies, and other private enterprises may require Social Security numbers as a condition to receiving the services they provide. Of course, they may not use the number for any purpose that violates a state or federal law, such as committing fraud or identity theft.
You have the absolute right to refuse to disclose the number. However, the business or other type of private enterprise has the right to refuse to provide you with the services that you request.
Misuse of a Social Security number
If you are disabled because of a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Disability Insurance program requires that you have a work history of a long enough duration to be eligible for benefits.
Your earnings record is important because it determines eligibility for SSDI benefits, and your lifetime earnings are used to calculate your monthly disability benefit. The accuracy of that record is because of the ability of the Social Security Administration to track your earnings using your Social Security number.
If you or your SSD lawyer discover a discrepancy in what Social Security has as your lifetime earnings and what you believe they should be, contact Social Security. Recent earnings may take time before they post to your earnings record, but earnings discrepancies for prior years may be due to errors made by an employer.
An employer may have reported your earnings using an incorrect Social Security number instead of the number that was originally issued to you. You can correct such errors by holding on to W-2 Wage and Tax Statements, income tax returns, pay stubs, and other documentation that proves how much you actually earned.
Contact a disability lawyer
A disability lawyer and disability advocate at London Eligibility is a reliable source of advice and skilled representation with all Social Security programs. Contact us today for a free consultation.