PA 08-66—sHB 5808

Public Health Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS ON VITAL RECORDS

SUMMARY: Federal law makes confidential any Social Security numbers (SSNs) and related records obtained under any law enacted on or after October 1, 1990 and prohibits state or local officials from disclosing them. This act tightens access to SSNs on birth and fetal death certificates recorded before that date and on marriage and death certificates recorded after July 1, 1997 when state law first required recording them.

This act bars disclosure of parents' SSNs recorded on birth and fetal death certificates and records unless authorized by state or federal law or by the Public Health Department (DPH) for statistical or research purposes. Prior law permitted disclosure of parents' SSNs to various parties under certain circumstances. The act also requires registrars of vital statistics to record this information in the confidential portion of the certificates instead of the “information for statistical purposes only” section.

The act extends several marriage license laws to civil union licenses and limits access to SSNs on both marriage and civil union licenses. And it limits those who can get a certified copy of certain death certificates containing an SSN.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS ON VITAL RECORDS

Birth and Fetal Death Certificates

Under prior law, parents' SSNs were recorded in the “information for statistical purposes only” section of birth and fetal death certificates, and SSNs on certificates recorded before October 1, 1990 that were less than 100 years old could be disclosed to various parties. These parties included the child's close relatives; the chief elected official or health director of the town where the birth or fetal death occurred; attorneys representing the child, the child's parents, children, or surviving spouse; genealogists; authorized federal and state officials; and people DPH specifically authorized for statistical or research purposes.

The act requires parents' SSNs to be recorded in these forms' confidential section. It specifies that the law governing access to birth and fetal death records and information is not be construed to permit disclosure of these SSNs, unless authorized by state or federal law or by DPH for statistical or research purposes. By law, information in the confidential section may be used:

1. by DPH or local health directors as authorized by DPH for statistical and health purposes,

2. by local health directors for town-related records, and

3. by the birthing hospital for statistical, health, and quality assurance.

By law, DPH can authorize disclosure of otherwise confidential information in the “information for medical and health use only” and the “information for statistical purposes only” sections for statistical or research purposes. The act also permits disclosure if state or federal law authorizes it for these purposes. In practice neither of these sections is issued with a copy of the certificate.

Marriage and Civil Union Licenses

The act applies existing law governing recording SSNs on marriage licenses to civil union licenses. It requires the SSNs of parties to a civil union to be (1) recorded in the “administrative purposes” section of the license application and the license and (2) redacted or removed from any copy of a license given to (a) people not otherwise authorized to obtain the number or (b) a state or federal agency that requests one.

For both marriages and civil unions, the act (1) specifies that the officiator's and the local registrar's access to the parties' SSNs is only for processing the license, (2) eliminates the DPH commissioner's ability to authorize other people to have access to the parties' SSNs on the license, and (3) allows only the parties to the marriage or civil union to get a certified copy of the license containing their SSNs.

Death Certificates

The law requires recording decedents' SSNs on the death certificate, but for people who died after December 31, 2001 this information is recorded in an “administrative purposes” section. The act specifies that the people listed on the death certificate, including the funeral director, embalmer, surviving spouse, conservator, physician, and town clerk can have access to the SSN and other information in the “administrative purposes” section only to process the certificate.

For deaths occurring after July 1, 1997, the act permits:

1. only the surviving spouse or next of kin to get a certified copy of a death certificate with the decedent's SSN or with the complete administrative purposes section and

2. any researcher requesting a certified or uncertified copy of a death certificate to obtain the information in the “administrative purposes” section with the decedent's SSN redacted.

Under prior law, if anyone other than the parties listed on the death certificate asked for a copy the registrar could redact or remove the SSN or omit the administrative purposes section.

Vital Records and Genealogists

The law gives members of genealogical societies that the secretary of the state recognizes full access to all vital records, except certain confidential files. The act adds records containing SSNs protected from disclosure by federal law to those exceptions and requires registrars to redact federally protected SSNs from any certified copy of any vital record they issue to a genealogist.

BACKGROUND

Related Law

PA 08-184 amends several provisions of this act. Among other changes, it repeals the provision that requires recording the mother's and father's SSN in the confidential portion of the birth certificate; prohibits releasing a parent's SSN to any person or entity that is not authorized by state or federal law; specifies that the law is not to be construed to permit disclosure of any information contained in the “health and statistical use only” and “administrative purposes only” sections to anyone unless DPH specifically authorizes it for statistical or research purposes; and allows entities authorized by state or federal law to receive marriage, civil union, and death records.

Federal Law

Federal law requires states or their political subdivisions to obtain parents' SSNs in administering their laws governing birth certificate issuance, but it prohibits them from recording this information on the birth certificate (42 USC 405 (c)(2)(c)(ii)). The law also makes confidential any SSNs and related records obtained under any law enacted on or after October 1, 1990 and prohibits state or local officials from disclosing them (42 USC 405 (c)(2)(c)(viii)(I)).

OLR Tracking: SS: JR: PF: ts