Can Social Security Administration help me find a missing person?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The letter forwarding service was discontinued in May 19, 2014.  To request information from the Social Security Administration, the agency suggests using the Freedom of Information Act.  

Overview of mail forwarding service prior to its discontinuance in May, 2014

Prior to May 19, 2014, the Social Security Administration had a letter forwarding service that could be used to attempt to contact a missing person under circumstances involving a matter of great importance, such as a death or serious illness in the missing person’s immediate family, or a sizeable amount of money that is due the missing person. The circumstances must concern a matter about which the missing person is unaware and would undoubtedly want to be informed.

The Social Security Administration charged a nonrefundable $35 fee for forwarding letters when to inform the missing person of money or property due him or her. It did not charge for letters that have a humanitarian purpose. The Social Security Administration read each letter to ensure that it contained nothing that could prove embarrassing to the missing person if read by a third party.

Any letter that was sent to Social Security Administration for forwarding was to be in a plain, unstamped, unsealed envelope showing only the missing person’s name. Nothing of value could be enclosed. Social Security Administration needed the missing person’s Social Security number or identifying information (the person’s date and place of birth, the father’s name, and the mother’s full birth name) to help it find the number.

You sent a written request that included the missing person’s name and the identifying information discussed above; your reason for wanting to contact the missing person; the last time the person was seen; and information about other attempts you have made to contact the person. You enclosed the letter to be forwarded in a plain, unstamped, unsealed envelope, with a check for $35 payable to the Social Security Administration (assuming the request was not for humanitarian reasons) and mailed your request to:

Social Security Administration

Letter Forwarding

PO Box 33022

Baltimore, Maryland 21290-3022

Social Security did not assure that a letter would be delivered or that a reply would be received, nor did it advise of the results of its search.

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