If you’ve ever applied for credit or conducted major financial transactions, you may have had to provide your Social Security number as part of a background check. Your Social Security number is such a valuable part of your identity because it uniquely identifies you as the person associated with that number.
But because your Social Security number is so valuable, you can be susceptible to identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands. That’s where the SSA-89 Form comes in. Completing this SSA form allows the Social Security Administration to verify your identity while allowing you to maintain control over who has access to your valuable information.
This in-depth guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Form SSA-89. Let’s start by discussing what this form is.
What is Form SSA-89?
The official name for Form SSA-89 is: Authorization for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to Release Social Security Number (SSN) Verification. In other words, if you need to verify your Social Security Number to a third party, this is the form you would complete to allow the Social Security Administration to conduct an SSN verification.
Why would I fill out Form SSA-89?
Generally speaking, people use this form when requested by a third party. There are a number of reasons that a third party would request this information as part of a credit check or a background check.
Financial institutions might ask you to fill this form out in case of a mortgage or a personal loan. An investment adviser might ask for this form when opening a retirement account. Some certifications and licenses require actual verification of your SSN before you can obtain that credential.
In other words, you would not fill out Form SSA-89 unless you’re required to do so in order to obtain something (a loan, job, or credential) that you’re actively seeking.
Who should fill out Form SSA-89?
Form SSA-89 may be required by third parties, such as lenders, to verify someone’s identity. Sometimes, financial institutions will require applicants or accountholders to complete this form as a protection against identity fraud. Potential employers may require it as part of a background check or security clearance investigation.
However, only people who are requesting something of importance through a third party should fill out Form SSA-89. People should never complete this form or give a third party access their Social Security Number without knowing:
- Who is requesting that they complete this form
- Why the third party is requesting this information
- How that third party will verify your identity with the Social Security Administration
How to fill out Form SSA-89
SSA Form 89 is fairly straightforward to complete. It is a one-page document, and most of the sections are self-explanatory.
However, we’ll break down this document in detail so you can understand some of the nuances that you might encounter as you complete this form.
At the top, you’ll print your name, date of birth, and full Social Security Number. The primary thing is to ensure everything is legible and complete.
For parents completing this form on behalf of a minor, the third party may have additional requirements.
At the center, you’ll inform the SSA why you’re completing this form, which company you’re authorizing to obtain this information, and the company’s agent (if they have one).
What is the reason you’re completing this form?
There are a variety of reasons you could be completing this form. Listed on this form are:
- Mortgage application
- Opening a bank account
- Credit card application
- Applying for a loan (like a personal loan)
- Opening a retirement account
- Job application
- Licensing requirement
There’s also a field for ‘Other.’ This might include something like a credit check, or a fraud investigation. Your third party may have specific instructions for you.
Name and address of the company requesting this information. This should be legible and complete. The company should give you the exact information required.
Name and address of an agent of the company requesting this information. Most companies outsource background checks, identity verifications, and other similar tasks to third-parties.
If the company has hired this out to an outside party, that outside party is the company’s agent. Again, the designated company (or the company’s agent) will give you the exact information you need to complete this part of the form.
Your signature goes here, as well as the date you signed it. However, signing this document doesn’t make it an open-ended agreement. There must be a date at which this authorization ends.
The default is 90 days after the date of the signature, but you may receive additional guidance as part of the application process.
It’s important to note that a physical signature is required. This is also known as a wet signature. Electronic signatures will generally not be accepted.
Also, if someone is completing this authorization on behalf of the individual being named in the form, that person’s relationship will be established here.
For guardians of a minor or incompetent adult, the company will usually require supporting documents, like proof of guardianship.
Privacy Act Information
There is nothing that you need to do after the signature block in the middle of the page. However, the Privacy Act statement portion at the bottom of the form is worth reading. Here are a couple of the highlights:
- This SSA form is drafted to comply with an SSA requirement to comply with several federal laws, notably the Privacy Act, Social Security Act and Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
- This form clearly states the restrictions on further use of Social Security records by the designated company and the designated company’s agent.
- The form notifies the applicant that the designated company (or agent) have entered into an agreement with SSA on the restrictions on the use of SSA’s records. This agreement allows the company to use the SSA Consent Based Social Security Number Verification system (CBSV).
How to submit Form SSA-89
If you’re the applicant, the company requesting your signature will likely give you clear guidance on this. You will not submit this form to any government agency or third party. Ask the company’s agent for instructions.
What happens to Form SSA-89 after I’ve submitted it?
Once you turn in the form, the company likely will submit a CBSV request to the SSA. This is the universal SSN verification service that allows the SSA to quickly and efficiently verify a person’s identity.
When the CBSV request is submitted, the Social Security Administration will verify that:
- The person’s name, SSN, and date of birth match the SSA records.
- The person is alive or deceased.
If, for some reason, SSA’s records show that the person is deceased, that information will be reported back to the company.
Where you can find a copy of Form SSA-89?
Likely, your company’s agent will give you a copy of this form. However, if you need a copy for yourself, you can find it on the SSA website.
In either case, the SSA releases a new version of this form periodically, so you’ll want to make sure you’re using the most updated copy of this form.