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Do you have to have a Social Security number?

Alert

DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed March 9 2022

You must provide a Social Security number for every person in your family who is applying for benefits. You can provide the numbers orally or in writing. You do not have to show any Social Security cards. 106 C.M.R. § 701.230. DTA will do a computer check to see if the Social Security numbers you gave match the people in your family.

If you do not have a Social Security number for someone in your family who is applying for benefits, you must apply for a number and must provide verification from the Social Security office that you have applied. If you are not sure about a number, you must ask Social Security to check the number and provide verification of your request. Your TAFDC cannot be delayed or denied while you are waiting for a number. See DTA Online Guide (Overview of Social Security Numbers-TAFDC).

You do not have to apply for or give DTA a Social Security number if you are not seeking TAFDC for yourself because of your immigration status. You can still get TAFDC for your children if they qualify for Social Security numbers.

Advocacy Reminders

  • DTA will check your number with Social Security, so it is important to give DTA the correct number. If you are not sure, ask Social Security to check. You can get TAFDC while Social Security is checking.
  • If you are a noncitizen who meets TAFDC or SNAP (food stamp) noncitizen requirements but you are not eligible for a regular SSN, Social Security must issue you a non-work SSN. This may apply to a battered noncitizen who has applied for legal status as a victim of domestic violence or to certain Cuban-Haitian entrants. See What if you are not a citizen? and What are the special noncitizen eligibility rules for battered immigrants and their families? To get a non-work SSN you will need a letter from DTA saying you otherwise qualify for a benefit.
  • If you are a domestic violence survivor (citizen or noncitizen) who is concerned about safety, you can request that DTA not use your SSN. See DTA Field Operations Memo 2005-42 (Sept. 8, 2005).

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