SSNRI: Social Security Removal Initiative

submitted by Kim Reyes, Benefits Counselor, Appalachian Council of Governments 

Your Medicare numbers will be changing in the future. To decrease Medicare beneficiary’s vulnerability to identity theft, social security numbers will be removed from beneficiary Medicare cards beginning April 2018 through April 2019. Per legislative requirement, CMS must mail out all Medicare cards with the new MBI (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) by April of 2019. Beginning January 2018, MBIs will be generated for all beneficiaries including active and deceased or archived and new beneficiaries. This will affect approximately 150 million active and 90 million archived Medicare numbers. New cards will be issued to existing and new Medicare beneficiaries.

In 2015 the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACR) of 2015 mandates the removal of the Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to address the current risk of beneficiary medical identity theft. With the roll out of this change, CMS has developed a thoughtful planned implementation. Many stakeholders will include Medicare beneficiaries, medical providers, billing agencies advocacy groups and data ware-houses. There will be very limited exceptions for use of the Social Security Number after the completion of the transition which could include claim appeals or adjustments.

Beginning January 2018, MBIs (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) will be generated for all beneficiaries including active and deceased or archived and new beneficiaries.

Once beneficiaries get their new Medicare cards containing MBI’s instead of Social Security numbers, beneficiaries are encouraged to begin using the new card as soon as possible. CMS will however, accept MBI numbers or the Social Security numbers during the transition. People who are new to Medicare during the transition period will only receive Medicare cards containing MBI numbers and all providers must be ready to accept the MBI numbers by April 2018. Additionally, the new MBI cards will not contain a gender or signature line.

CMS will be providing outreach and education to the entire Medicare community to ensure a successful transition. The important thing to re-member is that your Medicare benefits will not change. As al-ways, you must continue to safeguard your Medicare information. Only give your Medicare information to trusted entities which should include your medical providers, your local SHIP or SMP office, or family members. (