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Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI)

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Social Security Number Removal Initiative (SSNRI)


The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 requires the removal of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new Medicare Beneficiary identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare ID cards for Medicare transactions. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to mail out all Medicare ID cards with the new MBI by April 2019.

CMS utilizes HICN with the following parties:

  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)
  • States Medicaid Agencies
  • Health Care Providers
  • Health Plans

The primary goal of the SSNRI is to remove Medicare beneficiaries’ vulnerability to identity theft by removing the SSN-based HICN from their Medicare ID card and replacing with a MBI which does not contain a SSN or other personal information including gender and the signature line The new MBI, which will be unique to each beneficiary, will have the same number of characters as the current HICN (11) but will have different reporting characteristics including uppercase alphabetic and number characters through the 11 digit identifier.


The SSNRI transition period runs from April 2018 through December 31, 2019. CMS’ processes and systems will be updated to accept and return the MBI as of April 1, 2018. During the transition period, CMS will accept either HICN or MBI. However, as of April 1, 2018 CMS expects that all stakeholders who submit and receive transactions containing the HICN will have the same ability to submit transactions with MBI. As of January 1, 2020 HICNs will no longer be exchanged with Beneficiaries, Providers, Plans and other third parties with limited exceptions (i.e. appeals, adjustments, etc.).

During the transition period, CMS will be returning the same beneficiary identifier that was submitted on the incoming transaction. CMS will also be providing the date that the beneficiary was mailed the new Medicare ID card. Starting in October 2018 CMS will be returning the MBI on the remittance advice along with the HICN even if the claim was submitted with the HICN.

Medicare ID cards will be issued to existing beneficiaries with the new MBI number starting in April 2018. The issuance period for the new ID cards will be from April 2018 through April 2019. The Railroad Retirement Board will be issuing their own ID cards as part of the replacement program.


The SSNRI change is far reaching. A provider that exchanges HICN with another provider, such as third party clearinghouses, will be impacted by the change.


  • Have your Informational Technology group Identify all systems and businesses processes that currently utilize HICN within your organization.
  • Form an SSNRI Implementation Team that will be tasked with managing the transition from the HICN to the MBI. The group will be charged with developing an implementation plan, utilizing the CMS transition timeline, for managing a successful transition. The plan should include:
    • Estimated time required to implement the changes from HICN to MBI for identified systems and processes
    • Plans for communication with internal and external stakeholders. Examples of internal stakeholder includes patient access, patient financial services and health information management. Examples of external stakeholders included medical software vendors, third party clearinghouses, insurance eligibility vendor software, state Medicaid and Third Party Insurance Plans.
    • Monitoring the readiness of external stakeholders such as insurance plans
    • Other system implementations that may be occurring during the same period and their potential impact on the transition
    • Key measurement points in the implementation plan. An example of this would be your medical software having the ability to accept and send transactions with MBI to CMS as of April 1, 2018.
    • Metrics for measuring the success of the implementation at key points
    • Training of personnel in Patient Access, etc. for the changes
    • Communications with patients about the new Medicare ID card and the changes that they can expect the next time they register for services with your organization
    • Ongoing communications with internal and external stakeholders


For further information, please see the SSNRI website @ http://go.cms.gov/ssnri

or reach out to Senior Manager: Terry Lang