Many Illinois residents depend on Social Security Disability Insurance and other benefits to survive, but imagine not having a Social Security number with which to claim any applicable benefits under the Social Security Act. This was the situation for two sisters from rural Kentucky. The two women lived for more than 20 years without Social Security numbers and will finally get government recognition after suing the government.
Under the agreement, the State Department will issue passport cards to the two women. The Social Security Administration will accept the cards as proof of U.S. citizenship and thereafter issue Social Security numbers to the sisters. The terms of the settlement also states that the women will have five days to apply for Social Security numbers once they have received the passport cards.
The two women lived a nomadic life that began in their early childhood. Their births were recorded in a family Bible, but there was no public documentation of the events. The sisters started to push for Social Security cards about five years ago so they could get better jobs.
Their application for Social Security cards was declined for lack of proper documentation so in 2009 the sisters filed a suit in state court so they could obtain birth certificates.
In 2010, a Circuit Judge ordered DNA tests to prove the women were the biological children of their parents. Once the results came back as a match, the judge ordered the records be issued.
In July, the sisters sued in federal court after multiple failed attempts to get a Social Security card.
It is understandably crucial to protect one’s right to claim Social Security benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance. In some cases, the administrative hurdles to claiming this right may seem insurmountable, but the lesson from the two Kentucky women is that such barriers can be overcome through legal means.
Source: The Washington Post, “Ky sisters to get Social Security cards under settlement in lawsuit,” Nov. 23, 2011