The form 1695 is the form that an attorney submits to Social Security that allows for direct payment of fees. The form includes the attorney's Social Security number. Social Security's current policy is to include this form in the claimant's file but to obscure the attorney's Social Security number. I have two problems with this. First, some disability files are still paper. Non-disability files are always paper. I don't think that marking through the attorney's Social Security number will completely obscure the attorney's Social Security number if one has access to the paper form. Second, and more important, many attorneys who represent Social Security claimants work for law firms. An attorney who works for a law firm must include the firm's Employer Identification Number (EIN) on the 1695. The EIN looks exactly like a Social Security number and functions much like a Social Security number. It is personally identifiable information -- so long as we accept that a corporation is a person. It is certainly corporately identifiable information and could be used for criminal purposes. It might be possible for Social Security employees to use the EIN to access data in Social Security's records on payments of fees to law firms.
We need a better process. These EINs should not be left exposed and the attorney Social Security numbers in paper files need to be better protected.