February 1, 2013
Social Security Numbers
I am filing legislation to prohibit the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals from being made publicly available through the Federal governmentís Death Master File (DMF). The Social Security Administration publishes the DMF, which includes the full name, social security number, date of birth, county, state, and zip code of deceased individuals. It is updated regularly. For fees as small as $10, anyone can access the database. In a 2011 report to Congress, the IRS Taxpayer Advocate pointed out that easy access to the DMF is a major contributor to recent increases in tax related identity theft.
There is really no reason why the Social Security number of someone who has passed away should be available to anyone for a few dollars. The IRS has identified this as a problem and Congress should act quickly to close this loophole.
The DMF is maintained and made publicly available for several reasons. Government agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies use it to determine if they should stop paying out benefits. Medical researchers use it to track deaths and the spread of disease. Life insurance companies use it to help detect fraud. My legislation would not prohibit administrators from maintaining the DMF. It would simply make the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals unavailable to the public. This is a commonsense step that would help reduce identity fraud, address a problem that the IRS has already identified and save money.
East Boston Groundbreaking
On Monday I participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for Portside at Pier One, a residential waterfront development in East Bostonís Jeffries Point. Development initially began in 2006 but stalled when the economy faltered. I was happy to join local residents, Massport, development officials and other elected officials at the celebration marking progress on this delayed project. The East Boston waterfront is a true gem. This mix of residential and retail will further open the waterfront to the community and create numerous jobs.
I met Tuesday with representatives from the Alzheimerís Association. Many of us have friends or family who are living with Alzheimerís or who care for loved ones suffering its heartbreaking decline. The Alzheimerís Association offers support for patients and their families by providing information about the disease and directing them to the resources they need to better understand and cope with its effects. The Association also works to advance brain research and increase understanding of brain health. Association members wanted to update me on the work they are doing and to urge funding for research and essential services.
This week I spent some time at the Artisanís Asylum in Somerville. It is a non-profit craft studio offering classes and training. I was very impressed with the staff and the variety of crafts someone can learn. Instruction is available in welding, woodworking, lampworking, jewelry making and so much more. Local artists teach the classes. Those interested can learn a new hobby or develop a new skill that they can turn into a career. In addition to classroom instruction, artists have access to affordable studio and storage space as well as industrial equipment and other materials. This makes it more cost effective for artists to focus on their craft.
Whatís Up Next
Next votes in the House are scheduled for Monday February 4th. A floor schedule is not yet available.