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Understanding the Basics of Social Security

Posted on January 11, 2016

Gavel and Documents Lake County Social Security lawyer

Every U.S. citizen has a Social Security number, but few understand the true extent to which the SSN is used to keep track of their identity across governmental and private institutions. Although the Social Security program was originally created solely as a vehicle to provide retired workers with a safety net in their post-work life, the use of the Social Security number as a universal identifier has branched out far beyond that. A Lake County Social Security lawyer will be able to tell you more about how the Social Security system impacts your life.

The original purpoose of the SSN was for workers of the Social Security Administration to identify and keep track of taxes paid by each eligible worker toward the Social Security program. Today, federal, state and local governments also use the SSN for identification purposes as do employers, banks, insurers and other private institutions with whom you may regularly do business.

Social Security Insurance

Most people think of old-age retirement when they think of Social Security, but that is not the only insurance program run by the Social Security Administration. The office also runs the disability insurance program for those who have a medical condition that prevents them from working in any meaningful capacity as well as Medicare and Medicaid. To be eligible to receive benefits from any of these programs, you must have a valid SSN as your Lake County Social Security lawyer will tell you.

Insurance Companies

Federal law requires banks, financial institutions and employers to collect the SSN of people who do business with them. However, even organizations that have no connection to the SSA, such as medical providers and life insurance companies, will ask for your SSN as an identification mechanism. Because of this, the SSN has inadvertently become a primary identification tag for most U.S. citizens. As a result of the SSN’s widespread use in a variety of organizations, it is a prime target for identity theft and impersonation. Finding out a person’s SSN is often the first step by criminals and hackers toward defrauding or impersonating a target.

Medical providers and insurers cannot legally compel you to provide an SSN; however, they can refuse to provide service to anyone who does not produce one. Some companies have asked insurers to stop using SSNs as ID numbers because of the risk of data breaches. However, the practice is still widespread. To keep your SSN safe, carefully consider every party you give your SSN to and whether they actually need that information.

What If I Don’t Have a SSN?

All U.S. citizens should be granted an SSN either upon birth or upon granting of citizenship. However, if you do not have one, you can apply to the SSA for one. You will need to provide documentation that proves you are a U.S. citizen and verify your identity and age. If you are trying to obtain an SSN for a child for insurance purposes, you must present proof of your identity as well as the child’s citizenship status and identity.

This is only a brief overview of what Social Security law entails. If you have more questions about what is involved in Social Security cases, talk to a Lake County Social Security lawyer. Call John Paul Oreh at 216-896-0935.

Social Security Disability Library