Something doesn't smell right with this story.
It's been a lot of years but I think that I had to have my medical certificate before I could take the flight test for my private license.
And since they use your SS# now for your pilots license # why would the FAA even issue the license after 911 without checking its validity?
You have to have a current medical certificate prior to solo.
The FAA gives you an option of using your social security number on your license or they can issue you a unique number for the purpose of your certificate.