The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) has resolved an issue regarding two South Korean immigrants who were given the same social security number after years of bureaucratic headaches.
Jieun Kim, a 31-year-old Los Angeles resident, told NBC News that the SSA had informed her that the original social security number she received in 2018 would remain, while Jieun Kim, who is also 31 but lives in a suburb in Chicago, will receive a brand new one.
“The agency moved quickly to resolve it once both cases were brought to our attention. Part of the agency’s mission is to resolve cases such as this,” SSA spokesperson Jeff Nesbit said in a statement, adding that the personal information in their document and income histories, which were merged under the identical social security numbers, have now been separated accordingly.
Speaking to NBC News, Kim from Chicago said she was nervous when she first heard that the SSA director office was calling, thinking that something went wrong with their complaint.
Her fear was eased when the director, whom she previously spoke with, informed her that her new social security card was in the mail, along with an explanation about the problem. The director also apologized on behalf of the organization.
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The circumstances were different for L.A. Kim, however. She told NBC News that the SSA only informed her of the recent update but never offered an apology and left her to deal with the fallout.
“I am not totally happy because I am still left with having to deal with so many problems, including issues with the IRS, because of the SSA’s mistake,” she said, adding that she is now in the process of resuming the green card application process.
Fortunately, a spokesperson from the office of Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D, CA-34) said they are aware of the situation and are willing to help her.
The incident started after both Kims received the same social security number only months apart in 2018 — L.A. Kim got hers on June 18, while Chicago Kim received hers on July 23.
The problem lasted for almost five years, during which the two Kims encountered major issues with their banks, such as having had their savings accounts shut down, their credit cards blocked and even being accused of identity theft.
Their issue with the SSA also affected other aspects of their lives. Chicago Kim recalled how she was informed by the IRS last year she had already applied when she tried to get her COVID-19 government payment, while L.A. Kim shared she was allegedly threatened by an SSA officer regarding her green card process as their records listed her as having four parents.
“The officer told me that talking about this Social Security number mix-up could result in delaying the green card process that could be done in six months to 2-3 years,” L.A. Kim told NBC News.
When Chicago Kim raised a complaint, an SSA officer informed her that it was a computer error as both Kims reportedly have the same date of birth, last name and birthplace — South Korea.
“This is because the computer recognizes you guys as one person,” Kim from Chicago recalled the officer telling her.