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Social Security: Updated SSA info needed to access some online tools

Q: When going to use the online Social Security Benefit Estimator, I got a message that my identifying information could not be verified. What do you suggest?

A: The Retirement Estimator is a Social Security retirement planning tool at for people having enough work to qualify for retirement but not yet receiving monthly benefits.

Protection of your security is the usual reason for the Retirement Estimator not working immediately.

Online access is blocked if personal information you enter to the Estimator does not fully match information already on Social Security Administration records.

This could happen for several reasons, examples being when a person’s current name has not been updated on their Social Security number (SSN) card or if their birthdate is wrong.

The Estimator will work once the SSN record is updated.

To correct the problem, call Social Security, either the national number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY1-800-325-0778) or your local office (

The SSA representative should be able to determine the problem. If needed, SSN record correction can be completed by mail or in person at no charge. See

When you call, the SSA representative can also provide an estimate for you.

Q: When was the Social Security number (SSN) first used for income tax purposes?

A: In October 1961, President Kennedy signed into law Public Law 87-397, designed to cut down on tax cheating by assigning a tax identity number to every taxpayer.

As a result, the Internal Revenue Service adopted the SSN as its official taxpayer identification number in 1962.

In October 1986, President Reagan signed into law the Tax Reform Act of 1986, requiring that every dependent age 5 or older listed on a tax return had to have their own Social Security number.

This requirement doubled the Social Security Administrations SSN workload in the following year.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at Read his online articles at