Sunday, December 4, 2011

Congressman Johnson Introduces Keeping IDs Safe Act of 2011

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

As previously reported, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) was reported to be introducing a bill addressing concerns with the Social Security Death Index, [which is legally known as the Death Master File] due to incidents where deceased children's Social Security numbers have been fraudulently used by other than the parents when declaring the deceased on their federal tax returns for a refund.

On November 18, Congressman Johnson introduced HR 3475 [http://tinyurl.com/6uwu4aw]
original url: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3475ih/pdf/BILLS-112hr3475ih.pdf

The bill is very short and it deletes the existing provisions of the Social Security Act related to the section on "Use of Death Certificates to Correct Program Information"--Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405 Section 205(r)(5) and adds a new section (10) which relates to other provisions in 205(r). There is a redaction of existing provisions and a replacement and new provision which appears to limit what information will be available to the public on the Internet. For those who may be interested in reading the entire Social Security Act Section 205 including subsection (r) as it currently reads go to:
http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title02/0205.htm

The Chicago Sun Times reported on November 25, "Johnson's "KIDS Act" would effectively end public access to the death file, which now can be searched for a small fee or even for free on genealogy and other online sites. The files contain the Social Security numbers and other personal information that can easily be used by identity thieves." http://tinyurl.com/7pqfogv
original url:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/8954899-418/senators-try-to-block-id-theft-of-the-deceased.html. The newspaper article reports, two US Senators --Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) met with Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue, calling on the agency to limit information released in the death file. This appears to have support in both chamber of Congress as well as both sides of the aisle.

IAJGS takes this challenge to access to the Death Master File/ Social Security Death Index very seriously.

As we learn more, we will keep you aware by postings on this forum.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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