Two South Korean immigrants whose new lives in America were thrown into chaos after being mistakenly assigned the same Social Security number are getting some relief from the federal government.
Less than a week after NBC News reported on her plight, the Social Security Administration announced it would allow Jiyun Kim, 31, of Los Angeles, to keep the number she was assigned in 2018. And Jiyun Kim, who lives in a Chicago suburb and is also 31, a brand new number.
L.A. Kim told NBC News on Tuesday, “I’m happy and relieved that the SSA has resolved the issue of issuing a Social Security number to both of us.”
Kim, who lives outside Chicago in Evanston, said she too was excited to hear from the SSA.
“The first thought that came to me was, ‘What a relief,'” she said. “Finally, as a government agency the SSA is officially listening to me and taking my situation seriously.”
Jeff Nesbitt, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, confirmed that one of the women would be given a new Social Security number and that their personal information and income history, which were once combined under a single number, are now separated.
“After both matters were brought to our attention, the agency moved quickly to resolve it,” Nesbitt said. “Part of the agency’s mission is to solve cases like this.”
Chicagoland Kim, who is a doctoral student in the civil and environmental engineering department at Northwestern University and works as a teaching assistant there, said she was attending class when she heard about the woman from the director of the SSA office in Evanston. Was preparing for She’s dealt with before.
“To be honest, when I picked up the call and found out it was from the Social Security Agency, I was kind of panicked and a little scared that something had gone wrong,” she said.
But the director called with the news that a new Social Security card with a new number had been issued and was in the mail, along with an official explanation for the bureaucratic muddle, she said.
“Above all, the director apologized to me on behalf of his organization,” she said.
L.A. Kim said she hasn’t received an apology from the SSA, but has received confirmation that she no longer shares her Social Security number with her namesake in Evanston. She said her finances are still in a mess and she’s trying to get her green card application moving again.
“I’m not completely happy because I’m still left with a lot of problems to deal with, including issues with the IRS, due to the SSA’s fault,” she said.
A spokesman for Representative Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said his Los Angeles office is aware of Kim’s L.A. situation and stands ready to help her.
Both women were born on the same day in South Korea, although in different cities.
Their problems began about five years ago when they were both issued Social Security cards with the same number.
LA Kim received her card on June 18, 2018. Chicagoland Kim received her card a little over a month later, on July 23, 2018.
He soon found himself facing the closure of his banking and savings accounts and the blocking of his credit cards and being suspected of identity theft. And it was only recently that both Kims realized they were issued the same Social Security number by mistake.
The breakthrough came this month when L.A. Kim went to her Chase Bank branch to find out why her credit card was canceled. There, she learned that Chicagoland Kim had left her phone number at her Chase Bank branch on February 4 with instructions that whoever was using her Social Security number “to contact her.”
Once the women realized what had happened, they said they received pushback from the SSA when they tried to explain to suspicious agency employees that they were both issued the same number.
Chicagoland’s Kim said, “I was getting very desperate and distraught.” And finally, just one phone call from the director, and the official letter changed all that. It took away all my jitters when faced with a mess.”