Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Social Security Administration, Domestic Violence & The Mama Bear

January 5, 2009

James F. Martin
Regional Commissioner
Social Security AdministrationPO Box 8280Chicago, IL 60680-8280.

VIA: Certified Return Receipt to All Parties

Dear Mr. Martin:

I was very disappointed with the Administration’s decision against issuing my adopted son, a victim of severe domestic violence, a new Social Security number so I went today to my local Social Security Administration office to secure an appointment with the director to discuss the matter.

My son was beaten by his birth father all of his life. DHS first removed him from his family of origin when he was five and his teachers brought the abuse to the attention of the authorities. After a year in foster care, DHS returned him to his birth father who continued to beat the child habitually until the violence against my 9 year old, 4’3” 58lb, son escalated to such a degree that his jaw was shattered, an event which required an implanted plate, several surgeries and a week long stay at the hospital. Of course this treatment only healed his physical injuries. I’ve included selected pages of his history for verification as well as offender tracking information about his birth father for your review.

Please keep in mind that the attacks against my son were premeditated according to his Guardian Ad Litem. I was advised that my son’s birth father made his entire family aware of his intentions to beat his son and none stepped in to protect this child. This man is sitting in prison with very little to think about day and night except the circumstances that landed him there, potentially plotting his revenge against the child.

Unfortunately, at my local Administration office, I was not allowed to make an appointment with the director; rather, I met with a man who identified himself only as Eric explaining to me that his last name would not be provided to maintain his anonymity for security purposes. I asked for the director’s name to at least correspond with her, but was told that she does not deal with the public and her security and anonymity is so important that her name would also be withheld. I noticed upon entering the lobby of my local Social Security office that a uniformed (armed?) guard is permanently posted; again I’m impressed with the security provided the employees of the Social Security office, particularly in light of the fact that I live in a rural county of around 100,000 people. The sort of area generally considered to be relatively free from the turbulence found in more urban areas.

Given the Social Security Administration’s expenditure of effort and expense to maintain the security of its staff I’m sure you will happily accommodate my request to provide my adopted son with the anonymity and protection of a new Social Security number. Additionally, I would humbly request that the Social Security administration expunge all records associating my son’s new name from his old Social Security number.

My son elected to change his entire name, first, middle and last in an effort to protect himself from the violence of his birth father, the least the federal government can do is provide him with the protection it affords other victims of domestic violence, and again, its own staff.

Reflect for a moment on the reality of being nine years old and feeling that in order to protect yourself you must change your name and will never again have any contact whatsoever with your grandparents, your four siblings, indeed with anyone in the only family you have ever known. Such is the fear generated by domestic violence. Such is the fear that results from being beaten by your father until your bones break.

As a woman who owned a debt collection agency I am well versed in the efficacy of a Social Security trace in location of an individual. Nine simple digits provide such a rich source of information. Name, addresses, dates of residence at said addresses, aliases, etc. all available in seconds. I know from personal experience, access to this information is immediate and quite unsecured.

His birth father will be out of prison shortly and I am begging you to exercise your authority to protect victims of domestic abuse by issuing my son a new Social Security number and expunging his new name and our address from his old number.

I eagerly await your cooperation in providing my son the same security of anonymity from those who could do them harm that you provide the employees of the Social Security Administration.

I'll let ya'll know if this does me any good.

Update: January 14, 2009

On Wednesday the 7th at 9:ish AM I received a voice mail from “Erik” indicating that a new social would not be issued for my son.

On Wednesday the 7th at 2:ish PM I received a call from the director of our local office to discuss the matter and an appointment was made to fill out the paper work for the new social.

I’m guessing the office receives their mail sometime after 9:00am and before 2:00pm.

On Tuesday the 13th I received a call from the regional office in Chicago assuring me that they work directly with the office in Baltimore that will be issuing the new social and will oversee the process. This person indicated that my initial verbal requests for a new social should have been processed given the documentation of the abuse against my son I presented. She claims she is in a position to insure that his new info will be removed from the old social and has asked me to not provide her info to the public. I promised not to post her name and info if she can get the job done.

I will update this post with additional info as my request is being processed.

Moral of the story:

1. If you are a victim of domestic violence seeking a new social security number for protection, make sure you have documentation from authorities such as law enforcement or hospitals or the courts.

2. Put everything to the social security administration in writing when you are requesting a new social to protect yourself. I felt that writing to the regional office was very effective since my local office was blowing me off completely.

Update - Feburary 12, 2009

My son received his new SS# in the mail yesterday. He is thrilled and I'm pleased too. I pray it will provide some comfort and help him to feel safe in his new home.


Katie said...

Oh my, I missed this post. I hope you're able to get his ssn changed. Praying for you.

Anne Marie said...

Thanks for the prayers.

This is sorta outside my typical topic area for my bolg, but I wanted to post it if it can help someone else seeking a new SS# for protection.

Devin Rose said...

This is good information to know about--thanks Anne Marie.