JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Social Security Information - CFP Reply #general

Charles F. Printz <cfphrai@...>

On Sunday, 22 Nov.98 "IsraelP" p2o5rock@...
in message 46 wrote, in pertinent part:

Is there any way at all (not just online) to get information
from Social Security based on a search for the surname used
at the time the SS-5 was filed? (In fact, they should also
know when the change was made, which could help us learn
approximate marriage dates. But I'm not going to be greedy.)
Does FOIA empower the public to (excuse the expression)
demand this?

Dear Israel:

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 USC 552, Et Seq., allows the
public to request any/all legitimate records a/o files >from an agencies
records keeping systems. Whether the agency involved can actually find
the requested material/s is another matter altogether. The agency can,
as a matter of law and regulation, exempt a/o sanitize records that they
deem classified or protected under the Privacy Act.

You may, of course, challenge their decision/s first administratively
and, if you feel you have received no satisfaction, may then proceed to
take the agency to Federal Court on a "demand" to disclose. It should be
noted that even when an agency refuses to "legitimately" disclose, they
are obligated by law to supply you with that part of the information
that a reasonable weigher of facts would consider non-exempted. They
must also inform you of their specific reason/s for said action/s thru
enumeration of the provisions they are acting under.

In my private law firm, and in the activities of the non-profit human
rights law group that I am Deputy Director of, we file FOIA requests all
the time. Where the information being sought is clearly and concisely
stated, and accurate identifying information provided, most agencies and
departments usually reply to our queries in satisfactory way.

It also helps to make certain that the agency you are writing is the one
actually holding the records being sought. This may appear to be a silly
thing to stress, but with passage of time and the archival nature of
many records their occurs shifts in control of records >from one agency
to another. Also, in some cases, records are held at the local or
District Office level in lieu of the Washington, DC level. As such, in
our firm we always file our requests with DC and the relevant District

In this vein it is helpful to indicate in your request the changed names
of the agencies in question, i.e., pointing out that records held by
the Dept. of Health, Education & Welfare, by example, might now be held
by the Dept of Health and Human Services a/o the Dept of Education.
Likewise, that records held by the US Agency for International
Development in the period 1960-1975 approx may be held by the Central
Intelligence Agency a/o the Dept of Defense.

I hope this information is of some help. Just remember that in many
cases you are now dealing with very young officers who have very little,
if any, information on the history of their own agency and its holdings.

Best regards,

Charles F. Printz,
Elizabeth, NJ/USA
JGFF Researcher #7493

Seeking:(1) YARESHEFSKY, Sam/David/Morris - Odessa, Russia

(2) WOLCZEK, Sarah/Eva/Molly/Herman/Lena/Pauline - Warsaw, Poland