Specialist answers questions about IDs, taxes and more
Can I refuse to give my Social Security number to a private business?
Yes, you can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, and you should be careful about giving out your number. But, be aware, the person requesting your number can refuse services if you don’t provide it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone's number and use it for any purpose that doesn’t violate a federal or state law. To learn more about your Social Security number, visit socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits, and I recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security, or FICA, taxes on my income?
Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year Social Security automatically credits the new earnings and, if your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov or call 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).
Do members of Congress have to pay into Social Security?
Yes, they do. Members of Congress, the president and vice president, federal judges and most political appointees have paid taxes into the Social Security program since January 1984. They pay into the system just like everyone else, no matter how long they have been in office. Learn more about Social Security benefits at socialsecurity.gov.
How do I change my citizenship status on Social Security’s records?
To change your citizenship status shown in Social Security records: Complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5), which you can find online at socialsecurity.gov/online/ss-5.html; and provide documents proving your:
• New or revised citizenship status (We can only accept certain documents as proof of citizenship. These include your U.S. passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Social Security will ask to see your current immigration documents)
Next, take (or mail) your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. For more information, visit socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
What are some of the documents Social Security will accept as proof of identity for a child?
While you can use a birth certificate to prove age or citizenship, you cannot use it as proof of identity. Social Security needs evidence of the child’s existence after birth. An acceptable document must show your child’s name, identifying information and, preferably, a recent photograph. Your child must be present unless the photo ID also shows your child’s biographical information (i.e., age, date of birth and parents’ names). We generally can accept a non-photo identity document if it has enough information to identify the child (such as the child’s name and age, date of birth and parents’ names). We prefer to see the child’s U.S. passport. If that document is not available, we may accept the child’s:
• Adoption decree
• Doctor, clinic or hospital record
• Religious record (such as baptism record)
• Daycare center or school record
• School identification card
All documents must either be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. To find out more, visit socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. There, you also can find out what documents you need, fill out and print an application, and then take or mail the needed information to Social Security. You also may want to read the publication, Social Security Numbers for Children, available at socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
Vonda Van Til is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan. You may write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email to email@example.com.