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Social Security number can be had through mail


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POSTED: Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Question: How can my daughter-in-law obtain a Social Security number? She is a military dependent, has a U.S.-issued passport and also a Green Card to seek employment. She and I have tried a number of times to call the Honolulu number for the Social Security office and have been unsuccessful. I am wondering if there is a national number that we could call first to set up an appointment with the local office, then go down there for the interview. I hear that waiting in line at the office is interminable.

Answer: You can't make an appointment — it's first come, first served, said Jane Burigsay, public affairs specialist for the Hawaii region of the Social Security Administration.

However, your daughter-in-law may be able to fill out an application and just mail it and the required documents in instead of going in person to the local office.

However, because original documents — not photocopies — are required, Burigsay acknowledged that some people might be reluctant to mail them.

She recommends finding out first what documents are needed either by going online or by calling the national toll-free number, (800) 772-1213.

Go to socialsecurity.gov, then under “;Questions?”; pick Social Security Number & Card. You can also download an application form on that site.

For your daughter-in-law, just click on “;I have never had a Social Security number. How do I obtain one?”;

If you prefer talking to someone locally, Burigsay recommends calling the toll-free number later in the day, say around 4 p.m., to better your chances of speaking to someone in the local telecenter.

That's because most of the mainland offices have shut down by then.

Also, if you want to speak to a person instead of hearing a recording, say “;speak to agent,”; she advised.

Burigsay encourages people to check the Social Security Administration's Web page first because of “;the wealth of information”; provided.

The documents required to obtain a card would depend on each individual situation, something that is discussed via “;different scenarios”; on the Web page.

New, stricter rules are being implemented as the administration works with Homeland Security in tightening up Social Security numbers, Burigsay said.

Among the interesting facts we found on the Web page:

» Social Security numbers are not reassigned after a person dies.

» A Social Security number is divided into three parts: the area, group and serial numbers.

The first three digits are determined by the ZIP code of the applicant's mailing address. Within each area the group number — middle two digits — range from 01 to 99 but are not assigned in consecutive order. Within each group the serial numbers — last four digits — run consecutively from 0001 through 9999.

» The Social Security Administration has issued more than 442 million Social Security numbers so far, adding about 5.5 million new numbers every year. It figures it will have enough new numbers for several more generations.

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