About Your Social Security Number

Social Security numbersВ areВ generally assigned to people who are authorized to work in the United States. They are used to report your wages to the government and when filing your tax return. Also, when opening up a new bank account, banks require either a Social Security number or proof of application for a Social Security number.В

Upon arriving in the United States, all participants must register their housing address in SEVIS (within 10 days of arrival). В After SEVIS registration is complete, participants should wait 3-4 business days before applying for a Social Security number at their local Social Security office. The Social Security Administration recommends waiting at least 10 days after arriving in the United States before applying. If you do not register in SEVIS, you will not receive a Social Security number. Your local Social Security office can be found by visiting:В www.ssa.gov/locator

Bring the originals and two (2) copies of the following documents to your local Social Security office:

  • Photo page of passportВ
  • Visa page of passport with admission stamp
  • DS-2019 Form (make a photocopy of both front and back)В
  • Form SS-5 (application form)В
  • Dear Social Security Officer Letter (provided by InterExchange)

After submitting your Social Security application, you will need to present proof of application to your employer. Proof of application can include either a copy of the application Form SS-5, or a copy of the application receipt (sometimes mailed after applying). The application receipt can also be used as proof of application when opening a bank account.

Why do i need a social security number Social Security Application Process

After you apply for your Social Security number, we recommend checking on your application status seven to ten days later. If you return to the office at which you applied, it is recommended that you bring all of your original documents as well as the receipt of application. Checking on your application status will minimize any delays or problems with your application. Your Social Security number may even be available to you prior to your card being mailed out.В

How long will it take to receive my card?

Your card should arrive in the mail within four to six weeks of your application date. It is important that your mailing address on Form SS-5 is accurate to ensure that your card gets delivered to you. If you change your mailing address after you submit your application to the Social Security office, it is your responsibility to inform the Social Security Administration of this change by calling or visiting any Social Security office. If you do not currently have a valid mailing address, you may have the card sent to InterExchange Work & Travel USA at: 100 Wall Street, Suite 301, New York, NY 10005, and we will forward it to you at a later point in time.

After you receive your Social Security number

It is your responsibility to notify your employer as soon as you receive your Social Security number. Your employer may ask to make a copy of your Social Security card (they will need the number for tax purposes), but you should retain the original card and keep it in a safe place.В

Is it legal for J-1 students to start working prior to receiving their Social Security number?

Yes. Students may start working and can be paid prior to receiving their Social Security number. We encourage all participants to apply for their Social Security number as soon as possible, but wait at least 10 days after arriving in the United States. They should provide proof of application (a copy of the application receipt and/or a copy of application for SS-5) to their employer.В

What if my J-1 employee doesn't have a Social Security number when wage reports (Forms W-2) are due?В (See SSA website)

Paper Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn't receive the number in time for filing, enter "Applied For" in Box A. Electronic Filers: If the worker applied for a card but didn't receive the number in time for filing, enter all zeros in the field for the SSN. Remember to ask your employees for the number and the exact name printed on their Social Security card when he or she receives it.

What if I receive the J-1 student’s Social Security number after I have filed my wage report?  (See SSA website)

If you receive their Social Security number after you file your wage report, file Form W-2C (Corrected Wage and Tax Statement).

What if my student worker returns home without receiving their Social Security number? Is there a penalty for not reporting a worker’s Social Security number?

Yes, there is a penalty for not reporting a worker’s Social Security number, but this fine is usually waved if the employer can prove reasonable cause for not reporting the Social Security number.В Employers will receive Notice 972CG — or a notice of proposed penalty — and will have 45 days to respond. The employer must prove that they acted in a responsible manner and that the failure to submit a Social Security number was not due to willful neglect.В

To help prove reasonable cause:

  • Collect employees’ proof of application, which can include a copy of their application Form SS-5, a copy of the application receipt (sometimes mailed after they have applied) or a signed statement from student stating that they have applied.
  • Document the student’s gender, address, date of birth, father’s full name, mother’s maiden name, employee’s full name and the date of application.
  • Make at least one solicitation for the correct Social Security number either by mail, telephone, electronically, or in person and document this solicitation and the results. Retaining a copy of Form W-4 can also be considered a solicitation for the correct Social Security number, but additional solicitations may be required.В

Publication 1586 details the requirements of proving reasonable cause as well as answering additional questions regarding missing Social Security numbers.В Section (m) in regulation 301.6724-1 details the procedure for seeking a waiver of the penalty.

What if my employee’s Social Security card arrives at my business after they have left?

If you have a forwarding address for the student, please forward the card to them. If you do not have an address for the student, please mail the card to: InterExchange Work & Travel USA, Attn:В Social Security Information, 100 Wall Street, Suite 301, New York, NY 10005. We will forward it to the student.В

If I am a returning J-1 and have already been issued a Social Security number, do I need to reapply?

No, you do not need to apply for a new number. If you do not remember your number or have lost your card, you will need to apply for a replacement by visiting your local Social Security office, which can be found by visiting:В www.ssa.gov/locator

What if the Social Security Administration won’t accept my documents?

The Social Security Administration will not accept a student’s application and documents if you have not yet registered your housing address in SEVIS. We recommend going to the Social Security office at least three to four business days after initially registering your housing address in SEVIS. The Social Security Administration recommends waiting at least 10 days after arriving in the United States before applying. If they do not accept your application, take detailed notes of what the Social Security officer says and report this information to InterExchange by calling 1.800.621.1202.В

What if my Social Security card never arrives?


Do I need an SSN to enroll in coverage?

Though insurance applications normally require a Social Security Number (SSN), other forms of identification are valid for certain individuals.

Social Security Numbers ( SSNs ) are required for employees enrolling in group health coverage through their company. In the event that they do not have an SSN (e.g., in the case of someone working in the US on a work visa), they can use their Individual Tax ID Number ( ITIN ) instead.

They may also be required to provide one of the following documents, at the carrier's discretion, to prove that they are legally living in the US:

  • Alien Registered Receipt Card with Photograph (INS Form 1-151 or -551 ).
  • US passport (updated or expired).
  • Certificate of US Citizenship (INS Form N-560 or N-561 ).
  • Certificate of Naturalization (INS Form N-550 or N-570 ).
  • Updated foreign passport with I-551 stamp pr INS Form I-94 indicating unexpired employment authorization.
  • Updated Temporary Resident Card (INS Form I-688 ).
  • Updated Employment Authorization Card (INS Form I-688A ).
  • Updated Reentry Permit (INS Form 1-327 ).
  • Updated Refugee Travel Documents (INS Form I-571 ).
  • Updated Employment Authorization Document issued by the INS which contains a photograph (INS Form I-688B ).


why do i need a social security number

Why do i need a social security numberDo your patient intake forms still ask for a patient’s social security number (SSN)?

I know, you’re thinking, “But we’ve always asked for a patient’s SSN! The insurance company requires it!”

If you look at the data in an electronic claim file, you will not find the patient’s SSN unless that is the actual number used for the insurance ID number. However, most insurance companies have phased out using the subscriber’s SSN as the insurance ID number.

If your software has an entry field for SSN, the program will simply store the data and report it where it’s instructed: on an in-house practice report, but not in the claim file or on the printed CMS-1500 claim form.

So, while having the SSN might be helpful – if your office has to pursue collections or help verify eligibility if there is a problem with an insurance ID number – it’s not necessary.

Frankly, in this age of identity theft and the potential for data breaches, it’s worth thinking about whether you should even possess this type of information in the first place. Ask yourself:

  1. What am I going to do with a social security number?
  2. How often have I really had to use a social security number to track down a patient?
  3. Can I protect this valuable information from theft by an individual in the office, or by an electronic hacking attack?

If you really don’t need it, and if you can’t protect it, eliminate SSN from your forms. Or, you could request it, but if the patient refuses, then don’t worry about it.

Running a medical practice is hard enough, you don’t need any more complications.


Do Landlords Need to Collect Social Security Numbers?

Written on July 18, 2014 by Lucas Hall, updated on November 5, 2015

Why do i need a social security numberAt the risk of offending professional property managers everywhere, I’m just going to say it:

Landlords do not need to collect social security numbers to screen rental applicants.

Traditionally, SSNs have been required

I’ve been a landlord for almost 10 years, and yes, I’ve collected Social Security numbers (SSNs) from most of my applicants. Traditionally, they have been required to run credit and background checks, but not so anymore.

In years past, hiring a third-party screening company was the only secure way to get an applicant’s credit report.

However, in the last five years, all three major credit bureaus have begun offering or have partnered with companies like Cozy to offer landlords the ability to order credit reports on their own, without having to request an SSN.

Why should renters have to put sensitive information like SSN and bank information on a piece of paper and hand it over to a complete stranger?

With identity theft becoming the #1 crime in America, renters are increasingly hesitant to give out this information, especially to landlords whom they have just met.

When Cozy CEO Gino Zahnd was moving to San Francisco, a potential landlord accidentally ran his credit score six times in three hours, simply because the landlord didn’t know what he was doing. Gino’s credit score dropped dramatically, and it took a while for his score to recover.

Gino bounced back and found another place to live, but the potential landlord could have been held liable for the damage caused to Gino’s credit.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of collecting SSNs on a traditional paper application.

If you don’t want to lift a finger, you can hire a third-party background screening company to do the work for you. Though they don’t need a SSN for criminal background checks, they will need it if you want them to pull a credit report.

  • Sense of Security

    You feel like you have the tenant by the throat, but is that really a good thing?

  • Collections

    Landlords have the lowest success rate of collecting a debt compared with every other industry. However, if you want to hire a third-party collections agency to attempt to collect on the unpaid rent, you’ll need the tenant’s SSN.

  • You have to safeguard the personal information, which costs time and money.

  • Confusing Laws

    You must follow many state laws regarding the storage of personally identifiable information (PII), many of which are confusing and easily broken.

  • Increased Liability

    You could (and should) be held liable if their identity is stolen because you failed to protect it.

  • Immediately a Suspect

    If their identity is stolen, you could find yourself at the top of a police suspect list, which is just unnecessary drama.

  • Creates Distrust

    It creates distrust between you and the applicant, as you are forcing them to either jeopardize their identity security or risk not getting your rental unit. You’ll want to reduce entry barriers, not increase them.

  • Your Family Can’t be Trusted

    Most identities are stolen by a family member or trusted friend. Don’t give Uncle Roman a chance to steal your tenant’s identity.

  • Application Fees

    You have to collect, process, and document application fees to pay for the third-party screening. Why not just make the tenant pay for the credit report directly, and skip the application fee completely?

  • Why You Don’t Need to Collect SSNs

    Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax offer tenant screening services for landlords without the need for the landlord to collect a SSN. In fact, all you really need is an email address and the tenant’s participation. Third-party screening companies are just an unnecessary middleman.

    We’ve taken this a step further by integrating the Experian credit report within Cozy, thereby allowing the landlord to accept online applications, screen tenants, order credit reports, and collect rent from a single tool.

    Years ago, civil courts started removing SSNs from criminal reports and court records. Because these records were publicly available, other criminals were stealing the SSNs off of the records and using them for identity theft.

    All you really need to run a background check is the applicant’s first and last name and date of birth. Obviously, having previous addresses or a photo is helpful as well when your applicant’s name is John Smith.

    You don’t need a SSN to file an eviction or small claims court case. The process will vary from county to county, but typically the only information needed to open a case is a name and current address. Check with your local civil courthouse to learn about your local eviction process.

    For example, both California (Form SUM-130) and Colorado (Form 1A R7-12) eviction forms only ask for name, address, and phone number.

    During your court hearing, you can also ask for the court to approve a wage garnishment. If approved, the judge will issue a court order with requires an employer to comply. An employer would probably prefer you to have a SSN to verify the identity, but they can’t require it since the court didn’t require it.

    Even if the tenant doesn’t show up for court, you would still be able to garnish wages without having the tenant’s social security number.

    If you win a judgment and want to involve creditors and collection agencies, then yes, you will need your tenant’s SSN. However, when you win the case, you can request that the judge force disclosure of the SSN at that time.

    The only time this wouldn’t be realistic is if the tenant doesn’t show up for court. You would be awarded the eviction and possible financial judgement but wouldn’t be able to hire a collections agency to report the debt on their credit report.

    I often hear other landlords say, “I need to be able to ruin a tenant’s credit if they don’t pay rent.

    The truth is that you can’t actually report a debt directly to the three big credit bureaus. If you win the judgment, most credit reporting companies will pick up on the judgment automatically. No action is needed on your part.

    Further, should you really be retaliating? It could get you into legal trouble if you vengefully take it too far.

    During the screening process, I was increasing not only my responsibility to protect this sensitive information but also my liability if I mishandled it.

    It made me nervous, and cost me extra time and money to safeguard the information through locked file cabinets and extra security.

    If a SSN is not needed for tenant screening, then why was I collecting it?

    It was a question that flew in the face of traditional screening practices. It was tough to admit, but no less true. Social security numbers were no longer needed to screen tenants.

    If you still feel that you must collect a SSN, do it on the lease, not the rental application. That way, you’ll have only the SSNs of your tenants, and not the other rejected applicants.

    If you are incredibly worried about needing a collections agency in the future, then perhaps you should improve your screening process, and pick better tenants.

    Do you agree or disagree with my arguments? If you still collect SSNs from your applicants, I’d love to hear why you feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

    Let me know in the comments below.

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    Getting a Social Security Number in Spain

    Any foreigner working or studying in Spain is entitled to a Spanish Social Security number, necessary for tax purposes as well as contracting and all procedures related to labor and work. Petitions are made at the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social, which also handles pensions, disability, motherhood and fatherhood, death and survival and public health care.

    The Spanish Social Security system benefits all workers who are active within it. Each calendar day cotizado, that a worker has been employed, counts towards your Spanish pension and unemployment benefits, so be sure to check that your place of work has given you the activation, called an alta.

    Why do I need it?

    Every person who works for a registered company in Spain is required to have a Social Security Number, called a número de afiliación de la Seguridad Social. Social Security is generally paid for by an employer. This number also helps track pensions, unemployment and sick days, as well as maternity or paternity leave.

    A new law, passed in late February 2014, has drastically cut fees for employers who wish to register new employees in social security to help promote growth and job creation. Fees range from 50€ to 100€, but are only available to those who are not already registered.

    The vast majority of workers fall under the regimen general, or general scheme, which includes employees who work under another person, working partners of capitalist companies, civil servants and military personnel and foreign-born residents who work in Spain. Once a citizen is made active in the system, they are covered for life and their number will not change.

    For members of the European Union states, and spouses or family of Spanish citizens, affiliation with the Social Security system is as simple as presenting a valid ID. However, North Americans will need to present a valid work permit in order to gain access to their number.

    The system also covers self-employed workers, called autónomos, who pay their own social security and are not eligible for unemployment, as well as students from foreign countries.

    Where do I get a social security card? What do I need to bring?

    Each capital city and the larger provincial towns have Social Security offices, typically open Monday through Friday from 9 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. To find your local office, use the office locater tool from the Social Security’s website. You can search by autonomous region, or zip code.

    Some offices require appointments while others do not.

    You will need the following documentation:

    • Passport or Foreign Resident Card
    • A copy of Passport or Foreign Resident Card
    • Form TA-1

    The TA-1 is not available in English, though it is available in the co-languages of Basque, Gallego, Valencian and Catalan. You can download it, fill it out and print it here.

    Help! How do I fill out the form?

    Here’s the important information you’ll have to fill out:

    Section 1: Personal data

    1.1 : First Surname / Second Surname (if applicable) / First name

    1.2 : Gender (M for mujer or female, V for varón or male)

    1.3 : Type of ID (mark with an X): Spanish DNI number / Foreigner’s Card / Passport

    1.4 : Number on your identification document

    1.5 : Social Security number (if applicable)

    Date of birth / father’s full name / mother’s full name

    Place of birth / province of birth / country of birth

    1.6 Disability (if applicable) / nationality /maiden name (if applicable)

    1.8 Street Address

    1.9 Email address /option to have information sent by text message / Mobile phone number

    Section 2: Relevant Social Security Data

    Mark with an X: Activation of Social Security / Number Assignment for Social Security / Change in data

    2.1: Cause for data change (if marked X)

    2.2 Listing of any accompanying documentation

    Section 3: Option to have data sent to a second address added for communication purposes

    At the bottom left, the solicitor and his or her employer must, write the place and date, then sign in this format:

    En Sevilla , el 5 de marzo de 20 14

    By filling out a form and presenting your original and a photocopy of a passport or another form of ID, you will be given a número de afiliación de la seguridad social. Keep in mind that you won’t be given an actual card like you might have in your home country, so be sure to keep the official form with your number for tax purposes.

    While this number is active for health care immediately, you will not start earning days towards unemployment or your pension until you are employed and a lawyer has activated your work contract. This number is recognized throughout Spain and its autonomous cities in Africa.

    What’s covered under Social Security?

    Health care is one of the biggest assets of being in the social security system, and your employer covers the necessary fee for your basic care. In most regions, general doctor visits and emergency care are free at public clinics and hospitals.

    Prescriptions and surgeries are not covered under the social security umbrella and must be paid for after care has been administered, though often at a reduced cost. Note that dental care is not part of the social security system and must therefore be paid out of pocket. For more information, contact a social security office in your region.

    Every autonomous region has its own regulations for the administration and compensation, as well as rules related to the type of contract you possess, so visit your nearest office or ask a lawyer.

    Have any questions about social security benefits, becoming alta in social security, or just need some advice? Please contact us!