13 fear­less things to know about your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Western Palm Beach County - - Front Page - Maria Diaz So­cial Se­cu­rity Maria Diaz is a pub­lic af­fairs spe­cial­ist for the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion. If you have So­cial Se­cu­rity ques­tions, call 800-772-1213. neigh­bor­hood@pb­post.com

While many of us look for­ward to Fri­day, with its end-of-the-work­week des­ig­na­tion and our week­end plans, cer­tain cul­tures con­sider it an un­lucky day. Some peo­ple, suf­fer­ing from triskaideka­pho­bia, are truly ter­ri­fied of the num­ber 13. Com­bine the two fac­tors and it’s not sur­pris­ing that many be­lieve that Fri­day the 13th is a fright­en­ing day.

While su­per­sti­tions play an im­por­tant part in the Fri­day the 13th jit­ters, we of­fer a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to this “un­lucky” day with 13 fear­less things to know about your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber and card.

1. Your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber is your link to Re­tire­ment or Dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits since we use it to record your wages and earn­ings.

2. There is no charge to ob­tain a So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber and card. This ser­vice is free.

3. We keep your records con­fi­den­tial and don’t dis­close your num­ber to any­one, ex­cept when the law re­quires, or when your in­for­ma­tion con­nects you with other gov­ern­ment health or so­cial ser­vices pro­grams.

4. To pre­vent iden­tity theft, keep your So­cial Se­cu­rity card in a safe place with your other im­por­tant pa­pers and be care­ful about shar­ing your num­ber. If asked for your num­ber, find out why your num­ber is needed, how it will be used, and what hap­pens if you refuse to pro­vide it.

5. While you need a So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber to get a job or for other ser­vices, you of­ten don’t need to show your So­cial Se­cu­rity card. Many or­ga­ni­za­tions can ver­ify your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber di­rectly with us.

6. If your So­cial Se­cu­rity card is lost, you can re­place it up to three times a year with a life­time limit of 10 re­place­ment cards. Le­gal name changes and other ex­cep­tions will not count to­ward these lim­its.

7. You can re­quest a re­place­ment So­cial Se­cu­rity card with the ease and con­ve­nience of our on­line ser­vices if you have a my So­cial Se­cu­rity ac­count and meet our qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Visit www.so­cialse­cu­rity.gov/ my­ac­count.

8. If you sus­pect some­one is us­ing your num­ber for work pur­poses, con­tact us to re­port the prob­lem so we can re­view your earn­ings and ver­ify that our records are cor­rect. You also may view your an­nual earn­ings by ac­cess­ing your So­cial Se­cu­rity State­ment, one of the many ser­vices avail­able with a my So­cial Se­cu­rity ac­count.

9. If you sus­pect some­one is mis­us­ing your num­ber to cre­ate credit or other prob­lems for you, re­port the iden­tify theft with the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC) at www.iden­ti­tytheft.gov or by call­ing 1-877-IDTHEFT. We also rec­om­mend that you con­tact the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice (IRS) if fraud­u­lent tax re­funds or re­port­ing is in­volved, quickly file a com­plaint with the In­ter­net Crime Com­plaint Cen­ter (IC3) at www.ic3.gov, and mon­i­tor your credit re­ports.

10. The nine-digit So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber was ini­ti­ated in 1936 for track­ing work­ers’ earn­ings over the course of their life­times for ben­e­fits, not with the in­tent of per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. Since 1936, we have is­sued more than 30 dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber card.

11. Un­til June 2011, the first three dig­its of a So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber were de­ter­mined by the ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gion in which the per­son lived. Num­bers were as­signed be­gin­ning in the north­east and mov­ing west­ward. Res­i­dents on the east coast of­ten have lower num­bers than those on the west coast. Any num­ber be­gin­ning with 000 will never be a valid So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber.

12. Be­gin­ning in June 2011, we as­signed So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers ran­domly, which pro­tects the in­tegrity of the So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber, elim­i­nates the ge­o­graph­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the first three dig­its of the So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber, and ex­tends the longevity of the nine-digit So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber.

13. Since Novem­ber 1936, we have is­sued 453.7 mil­lion dif­fer­ent num­bers and there are ap­prox­i­mately 420 mil­lion num­bers avail­able for fu­ture as­sign­ments. We as­sign about 5.5 mil­lion new num­bers a year.

Fear not, if you prop­erly pro­tect your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber and card. In­for­ma­tion about ap­ply­ing for a So­cial Se­cu­rity card, name changes, iden­tity theft, and other an­swers to fre­quently asked ques­tions is avail­able at www.so­cialse­cu­rity.gov, or by call­ing us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800325-0778).

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