Comments on S. 214--A Bill to Enhance the Integrity of the Social Security Card

T-HRD-90-23: Published: Apr 18, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 1990.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services, with the assistance of the Department of Justice, to develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant social security card and examine different methods for improving the social security card application process. GAO noted that: (1) the improved card was intended to provide a more reliable means for verifying employment eligibility under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA); (2) fear of sanctions for noncompliance with IRCA, lack of understanding of the eligibility verification process, and the proliferation of possibly fraudulent documents that could be used to certify eligibility caused many employers to discriminate against individuals who were eligible to work; (3) the proposed legislation did not address the assessment of potentially costly, disruptive, and time-consuming aspects of producing 210 million new counterfeit-resistant social security cards; (4) the counterfeit-resistant cards could make producing fraudulent cards more difficult, but would not address the problem of individuals fraudulently obtaining real cards; (5) the Social Security Administration (SSA) has taken several steps to improve internal controls over social security card issuance, including enumeration at birth; and (6) a state-issued tamper-resistant driver's license with a validated social security number could be a less costly alternative to issuing new social security cards.

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