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  Case Study: Online Social Security Verification  

The ability to verify social security numbers is an important part of vital event management. Many states were facing problems interfacing their vital software with the Social Security Administration (SSA), impacting the timeliness and integrity of the data.

The original Online Verification System (OVS I) was envisioned to provide social security number verification functionality that could be easily incorporated into any electronic death registry system (EDRS). In practice, EDRS vendors and states encountered significant difficulty installing and integrating the OVS I due to a variety of technical factors. Inasmuch as social security number validation is a critical for SSA business processes, as well as other agencies, it is important to have a real-time, reliable verification method.

Gold Systems had previously worked with the SSA and NAPHSIS to integrate OVS I with an Oracle-based EDRS which we had developed for Montana and Washington, DC. The main goal of this project was to provide a self-contained, web-based module which could be easily accessed to perform the verification step. As a result of our previous experience, we were able to resolve the problems associated with integrating OVS II with an environment other than the default. We assisted the SSA in debugging various problems with the production OVS II and subsequently worked with the State of Utah to integrate OVS II into a MySQL/PHP environment. We worked with SSA to test and troubleshoot the integration in multiple environments including UNIX, Windows, and Linux and have identified and corrected bugs in OVS II code to increase its reliability and performance.

The solution Gold Systems provided is designed to easily interface with an EDRS system. In its most basic form, the EDRS may send verification requests to the OVS II module simply by going to a web page (URL) and passing the required data elements in the URL itself. This solution is currently being implemented in approximately ten states throughout the country. The module provides the following features:

  • Web pages to allow for the maintenance of scheduled down times.
  • Configuration files to specify any EDRS table and column information from which OVS II may obtain the data elements needed for verification.
  • A testing tool which simulates a response from the SSA to be used during installation, integration, and testing of the interface.
  • A web page which displays verification status and history for a particular record.
  • Built-in enforcement of business rules specified by SSA/NAPHSIS for OVS II.

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