|November 4, 1998
For Immediate Release
Catherine Noe 202-358-6018
John Trollinger 410-965-8904
Social Security Administration
Statement From Kenneth S. Apfel Commissioner Of Social Security
On Assisting Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic violence plagues the lives of millions of Americans, mostly
women. For decades, domestic violence was a private tragedy, largely
hidden from society's view. It was widely deplored, but too seldom
The Social Security number has become a part of every American's
identity and is as closely and as uniquely associated with a person
as his or her name. It is used by employers, banks, universities,
credit card companies, health care providers and many other organizations.
Sadly, the Social Security number can sometimes be misused by
domestic abusers to locate victims who have tried to escape their
tormentors, usually through private investigators, or through Internet
web sites. This means that a woman seeking to escape domestic violence
may need to change virtually her entire identity - her name, her
home, her job and her Social Security number.
Social Security does provide a way for victims to be issued a
new Social Security number and help in their efforts to elude their
abusers. But it isn't easily done. We require proof of current abuse
and proof that the Social Security number is being used - or misused
- by the abuser in order to locate the victim. Or we require proof
of severe domestic abuse or endangerment of life. Because of this
restrictive criteria, only about half of the requests for new Social
Security numbers are approved.
That's not good enough. Starting immediately, Social Security
will take additional steps to make it easier for abused, battered
women to establish a new identity and obtain a new Social Security
number, reducing the risk of further violence. This Administration
understands that a woman who has been abused has traveled along
one of life's hardest roads, and that her government should not
place unnecessary obstacles in her path to a new and better life.
That's why we want to do everything we can to help women escape
the shameless and senseless acts of domestic violence.
See also a Factsheet,
which includes some Questions and Answers, regarding domestic violence
policy change. Additional information is also available on the White
House Web site.
Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security
information and statistics, are available at SSA's Internet site,
Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.