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SSA Provides Assistance to Victims of Domestic Violence

(November, 1998)
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All people deserve to live with respect and dignity -- free from fear. Yet, family violence plagues the lives of millions of Americans, according to estimates by the Department of Justice. This crime affects people in all walks of life.

The SSA joins with other Federal agencies to provide greater assistance to victims of domestic violence. Some victims seeking to elude their abuser and reduce the risk of further violence choose to establish a new identity. As part of that effort, it may be helpful to obtain a new Social Security number (SSN).

How To Apply For A New Social Security Number

  • Apply in person at any Social Security Office;
  • Take evidence of your age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status;
  • If you have changed your name as the Department of Justice recommends, take evidence identifying you by both your old and new names;
  • If new SSNs are being requested for children, take evidence showing you have custody; and
  • Take any evidence you may have documenting the harassment or abuse. The Social Security Administration will assist you in obtaining any additional corroborating evidence, if needed. The best evidence comes from third parties, such as police, medical facilities or doctors and describes the nature and extent of the domestic violence. Other evidence might include court restraining orders, letters from shelters, letters from family members, friends, counselors, or others with knowledge of the domestic violence.

Protective Actions Recommended By The Department Of Justice

A new SSN alone cannot protect you, particularly if your original SSN did not play a role in the domestic violence. There are other important steps you need to take for personal protection. In addition to changing your name, you should consider getting an unlisted telephone number, changing jobs, and moving to a new area/state.

Victims of domestic violence also are encouraged to contact the national Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free number, 1-800-799-SAFE. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call the toll-free "TTY" number, 1-800-787-3224 .

Protecting Your New SSN

SSA's records are confidential. SSA does not furnish your SSN to third parties. Therefore, you should be careful about sharing your SSN unnecessarily with third parties who may not need it to provide you with a benefit or service.

Questions and Answers Regarding Domestic Violence Policy Change

Question 1: What will SSA do differently in processing requests for a new number?

Answer: Previously SSA required the individual to establish that the abuser had either misused the individual's SSN or could be expected to misuse it to locate the individual. Only in cases of extremely severe abuse or endangerment of the persons life did SSA assume misuse. Now SSA will presume SSN misuse is possible in all abuse cases.

Question 2: Should a person change his/her name before contacting SSA for a new number?

Answer: Changing one's name is one of the important steps a domestic violence victim needs to take for personal protection. Since SSA assigns an SSN based on the name shown on the identity document submitted with the application for a number, it is best that the applicant have a document showing his/her new name.

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