Ask Kathryn: Should I or My Attorney Give My Child’s Social Security Number to the PIP Insurance Carrier?

Dear Kathryn:

My child was involved in an auto accident and my auto insurance carrier (PIP) wants my child's social security number.  The PIP adjuster is saying that they need to put Medicare on notice of my child's claim and that's why they need my SSN and they mentioned something about SCHIP – what is that?  I want to keep my child's social security number private, do I have to give them the SSN?

                                          Signed, Social Security Number Spooked in St. Pete

Dear Spooked:

You are right to be extra-cautious in giving  out your or your children's social security numbers.  In this internet, information age, your privacy needs to be protected – especially your privacy with respect to social security numbers. 

Your personal injury attorney should keep everything private and confidential.  There are certain parties, however, that your attorney will need to share your information with – like the PIP carrier, your doctors and health care providers and, to a certain extent, the at-fault insurance carrier adjuster. 

After an auto accident, if the injured person is eligible for Medicare benefits, then the attorney handling the claim has a duty to let Medicare know about the claim.  If Medicare has paid any accident related benefits then, at the end of the case, Medicare may have a right to be paid back.  At first blush this seems like it doesn't make sense, but it is called subrogation and it exists because the law wants to prevent a double recovery and because the at fault party should have paid for all the accident related expenses, if another party – like Medicare pays, then that party may have a right to be paid back from the recovery.

SCHIP stands for State's Children's Health Insurance Program.

The insurance adjuster is considered a RRE (responsible reporting entity)in the "query process" after an accident involving someone who has Medicare or who is eligible for Medicare benefits.  In order to compete the "query process" the RRE must have the SSN (social security number), name, Date of Birth, and gender of the injured party.  This is why the insurance claims adjuster may be asking for your information.  For more information on this process and how it works, an excellent resource is Jason Lazarus of the Settlement Law Firm; his website can be found by clicking HERE.

The bottom line is this:  Keep your and your children's social security number as private as possible.  If you are involved in an auto accident and are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid – or any other health insurance or collateral sources for that matter – make sure to give this information to you attorney because your attorney will need to put Medicare or the collateral source on notice of the claim as soon as possible.  Give your or your children's social security numbers to your attorney but stress that you wish to keep these numbers as private as possible but that you understand that the attorney may need to share this information with the medical providers, collateral sources, and the PIP insurance adjuster – and possibly even the at fault (BI) insurance adjuster.  Ask your attorney what happens to your file after your file is closed – make sure that the attorney is keeping your file safe, private and confidential. 

I hope this answers your question.  If you have more questions, please feel free to email me privately at

For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-300-4878.

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