How To Obtain/Replace My Social Security Card [Step-By-Step Process]

Are you a U.S citizen, if so you should have an SSN and a Social Security Card. 

Your Social Security Card and SSN help the government to keep track of your earning and the years you have worked. Having an SSN is important when you go to apply for a job, apply for benefits, or pay taxes. 

If your card is lost or stolen you will need to quickly replace your card and notify the Social Security Administration that your SSN may be at risk. 

Protecting your SSN and your Social Security Card is very important. This article will answer commonly asked questions regarding your Social Security Card. I will also provide suggestions on how to protect your card and specific steps to take if your card has been lost or stolen.

Read further to learn more about ordering or replacing your Social Security Card.

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What Features And Information Does A Social Security Card Provide

A social security card displays “Social Security” with its seal. Your name and Social Security number are impacts printed on the cars. There is also a line for a signature printed on the bottom of the card. This should have your signature. 

For noncitizens, there may be lines that read “Valid For Work Only With INS Authorization” or “Not Valid For Employment.” Those lines will prohibit you from working in certain situations or working at all. If you are a US citizen your card should not include those lines. 

The back of your card will have information about SSN and the card. It will also include instructions for where to mail the card if it is found and how to contact the SSA. 

The card will also display the card’s official form number. 

Your Social Security Card is printed on a specific kind of paper with a special tint. If anyone were to try to alter the card’s information the tint would be removed. This makes tampering easy to detect. Intaglio printing or printing that creates a “raised effect” is used on the card. This kind of printing is not very common. 

There are other security features each Social Security card includes, however, not all of the features are released to the public. 

The Social Security Administration currently has 47 valid versions of the Social Security card. This is because when they create a new security feature they do not send out new cards to all Social Security cardholders. Therefore older cards may have different security features. 

What Can My Social Security Card Be Used For

Your Social Security card is only used to verify the specific SSN of the person named on the card. You cannot use this card to prove your identity or citizenship. The card does not store any data or transactions. 

This card can be used when applying for a job if your employer requests to see it. Employers are encouraged to collect your Social Security card information when you are hired. Employers can confirm the name and SSN by viewing this card. 

While the SSA advises employers to collect their Social Security information they do not have to. It is not a requirement that you show your Social Security card or share your SSN with an employer.

For non-citizens who are authorized to work with INS authorization, you may have to show your card. Your employer will need to confirm with the INS that you are able to work for them. 

Do I Need A Social Security Card 

Every US citizen needs to have a Social Security card. This card will be used when you work to record your income and the years you have worked. The information recorded on your SSN will be used during tax time and if you ever request benefits, disability, or other assistance. 

When applying for a job, you may be asked to present your Social Security card and/or SSN. Your employer will use this to confirm your name, SSN, and report your wages to the SSA. 

If your employer does not request and use your SSN, you will need to report your earnings at the end of each year. You will need your SSN to do this. 

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Whether you are a U.S citizen, a noncitizen who has authorization to work, or a resident who needs to pay US taxes you will need a Social Security card. 

Do I Have To Pay For A Social Security Card

No, you do not have to pay to apply for or receive a Social Security card. There will be no charge to activate your card either. If you are contacted by someone and told you to need to pay to active or fix your card that is a scam. Hang up immediately. 

Who Can Get A Social Security Card

The requirements to be issued a Social Security card are as follows:

  • You must be a US citizen. 
  • You must be a lawful permanent resident. 
  • You must be a work-authorized immigrant. 
  • Any other individual with a valid non-working reason to request a card (proof must be provided).

If you meet one of those requirements you should be able to request a Social Security Card. You will need to provide certain documents to prove your age and citizenship or status. 

What Information Do I Need To Provide To Get My First Social Security Card 

If you are applying for your first-ever Social Security card you will need to prove your age, identity, and citizenship. 

Usually, documents issued in the USA are preferred, the documents cannot be expired or damaged to the point where they are unreadable. 

The documents should show your full legal name, age, and biographical information. Certain documents should also have your picture and/or a description of your features. 

Your Social Security card should stay in good condition for about 50 years with little to no use. With moderate use, your Social Security card should last between 35 to 30 years.

Proof of Age:

  • A religious record that was created before the age of five that shows your age and/or date of birth
  • The U.S. hospitalization record of your birth (must have been created at the time of your birth)
  • Passport 
  • Final Adoption Decree that shows birth information from the original birth certificate 

Proof Of Identity:

  • U.S. passport 
  • U.S. drivers license
  • U.S. State-issued non-driver identity card

Proof Of Citizenship 

  • U.S. birth certificate 
  • U.S. passport 
  • Consular Report Of Birth 
  • Certificate Of Citizenship 
  • Certificate of Naturalization 

Proof Of Immigration Status

  • Current unexpired document from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) showing your status (Form I-551, I-94, or I-766)
  • If you are an exchange visitor or international student you may also need to provide Form I-20, DS-2019, or a letter from your school or employer authorizing employment or study. 

It is important to provide all of the correct documents when you go to apply for your first Social Security card. If you fail to provide the correct information you will not be issued a Social Security card. 

How Can I Order My First Social Security Card

If you are applying for your first Social Security card and are above the age of 12 you will need to apply for your Social Security card ann SSN in person at the closed Social Security office. 

If you are applying for a child under 18 you will need to provide the child’s information as well as the SSN of their parent(s). If the parent(s) never received a Social Security number check the box “unknown”.

You will need to bring in all your documents and proof to show when applying. 

View the form you need to complete to apply for your first Social Security card here. 

You can find a location close to you by searching your zip code in this locator. 

Make sure to call ahead of time and book an appointment. You may not receive service if you show up to the Social Security office without an appointment. 

How Do I Fill Out The Application And Where Do I Submit The Application

You will need to fill out Form SS-5 to apply for your first Social Security card. Collect your documents and proof before filling out the application. 

Make sure to write any dates in the full digit form for example 24/11/1997. Make sure the year is written with 4 digits. 

If you check the box “Legal Alien Not Allowed To Work” or “Other” you need to provide acceptable proof to support the reason you are requesting a Social Security card. This proof should be issued from the U.S. Federal, State, or local government. 

You do not have to volunteer your race or ethnicity on the form.

You must provide an address to where your Social Security card can be mailed. 

If you are 18 years or older and are mentally and physically capable of reading you may sign item 17. If you are under 18, you, a parent, or a legal guardian may sign item 17. 

If you are over 18 but cannot sign your own name a parent or guardian may sign. If you cannot sign your name you may draw an X on item 17 and have two people sign as witnesses. 

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Where Should I Submit The Completed Form

Usually, you can mail your completed form to the closed SSA office. Any documents you mail in will be returned to you. 

If your specific circumstances require you to go to the SSA office to apply in person you may be able to submit the form physically at the office. 

How Long Will It Take To Get My Social Security Card

After you complete the application for your first Social Security card and provide adequate proof you should receive your card within 7-14 days from your application. 

If there are any issues with your application the Social Security Administration may contact you to correct the issues. 

If you hear nothing from the SSA and do not receive your card after 2-3 weeks you can call your local office where you applied to check the status of your application. Find the Social Security Office locator linked in the heading above. 

How Can I Protect My Social Security Card and My SSN

When you get your first Social Security card or receive a replacement you need to store it in a safe and secure place. Your back pocket or at the bottom of your purse may not be the best location. Make sure the card is protected from water damage and not left in direct sun for long periods of time.

If you replaced your previous Social Security card and have the old one still you can shred it, chop it up, or try to dispose of it in some other method. Make sure your information cannot be read on the card. 

Do not return your old Social Security card if you receive a call from a random person who claims you need to return the old card. 

Do not give out your card or your SSN to just anyone. If you are contacted on the phone and asked to give your Social Security card information please be cautious. 

Avoid Phone Scammers 

Please be careful when taking ANY phone call about your Social Security benefits!!! Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams related to Social Security numbers. A Social Security officer will NEVER threaten you or say you will go to jail if you do not give them your personal information. 

If you receive a phone call where someone says “there is a charge against you, you will go to jail if you do not pay money or give us your information” that is a scam! Hang up!  

Do not share your information over the phone unless YOU were the person to contact the SSA. It is safer when you directly contact someone because you initiated the conversation. 

Protect Yourself When You Must Carry Your Physical Card

It is not recommended to carry your physical card with you. You may never have to show this card to an employer or officer. 

However, if you choose to carry your card you must protect it. When carrying your Social Security card make sure to keep it in a safe and secure place.

You could photocopy or take a picture of the front of your card and back to make sure you have a digital record. This will allow you to show an employer your card without carrying the actual card. 

This can also help prove you are the owner of the card if you lose it. You should also write down all your important identification numbers for your reference. But make sure to keep that note in a safe place too. 

Some phones have a feature where you can put a password on a note you make. This may be a feature you could use to note down important numbers and passwords in a safe place. 

Carrying your original Social Security card can be quite a risk, take the utmost caution when doing this. 

What Should I Do If My Card Was Lost Or Stolen

If your card is lost or stolen you need to contact the Social Security Administration immediately to protect yourself from identity theft and the misuse of your SSN. 

Apply For A Replacement Online 

The Social Security Administration replaces about 10 million Social Security cards each year due to lost or damaged cards. 

If you are over 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and have a U.S. mailing address you can request to replace your card online. If you are requesting a name change or any other information to be changed on your card you will need to go to the Social Security office in person. 

You can log into your Social Security account and go to request a replacement Social Security number card. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Log in to my Social Security account
  2. Select “Replace your Social Security Card
  3. Answer the questions 
  4. Input your personal information to confirm it is you
  5. Make sure to submit the request

If you are not a U.S. citizen you will not be able to apply for a replacement online. You will need to go in person and provide the required documents. 

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If you are requesting a name change or any other information to be changed on your card you will need to go to the Social Security office in person. 

Call The Social Security Administration To Report The Lost/Stolen Card

If you know your card is lost or stolen you need to report is as soon as you can. The Social Security Administration will block your old SSN from being used. This will protect you from threats and legal trouble if someone else uses your card. 

Find the location of your nearest Social Security office and their contact info here. 

How Could A Thief Use My Card Or SSN

If your card has been stolen the thief may try to use your card or information

to commit identity theft. 

Once a scammer or thief has your personal information they may try to impersonate you and receive money or benefits if possible. They could also threaten you by exposing your personal information to the public. 

They could also sell your information to someone else who intends to work in the USA or assume your identity. 

If you have given out your personal information and are being threatened contact the Social Security Administration ASAP and let them know what is happening. The Social Security Administration can issue you a new SSN and cancel your previous one. This can help you secure your personal information and stop threats. 

What Are Some Common SSN Scams 

Identity Theft

To commit identity theft. Once a scammer has your personal information they may try to impersonate you and receive money or benefits if possible. They could also threaten you by exposing your personal information to the public. 

Card Activation Fee Or Issue With Card

A scammer may call you and try to convince you to pay a fee to activate your card or “fix’ an error they claim exists. You do not need to pay anything to activate your new Social Security card. And if there is an “error” with your card then contact the local Social Security office directly, do not give out any details to a stranger. 

“You Have Charges On Your Account” Scam

Every day in the USA thousand of people receive calls where someone says “Hello, we are calling because you have suspicious activity on your Social Security number and you have multiple charges against you. If you do not resolve these charges you will be fined and face jail time.” 

The person you speak to will ask for your name and personal information first. This is because they do not know who you are usually. They are calling random numbers hoping to scam anyone they speak to. They may also threaten you and become aggressive. Those are key indications that you are not actually spelling to an SSA officer.  

That is one of the most common Social Security number scams. Do not answer the call or provide any information to the person who calls you and threatens you. 

You can contact the SSA directly to confirm if there are any charges against you. Find the SSA’s number on their website, do not call back the scammer’s number.  

Free SSA Services Scam

Another Social Security Information scam is where you are contacted and offered free services or amazing benefits from the “SSA.” 

During this call the person you speak to will try to get your name, birthday, and Social Security Number. They will act friendly and helpful. Their end goal is to compromise your SSN and make money. Hang up!

Fake Emails And Phishing

The last scam I will mention involves emails that appear to be from the SSA. These emails could include an attachment that looks like a letter from the SSA. The SSA’s seal and font style may also be imitated in this email. 

The email could include a link to a fake SSA website. Do not click any links on this email and DO NOT reply with personal information and/or your SSN. 

Read about other scams in detail here

Do I Need To Pay To Replace My Social Security Card

No, there is no charge to get your first Social Security card or to replace a card that has been lost or stolen. 

Are There Any Limits On Replacing My Social Security Card

Yes, you can request 3 Social security cards in a calendar year. The Social Security Administration limits the number of cards you can request to protect you from identity theft and ensure your card is being used properly. 

You can request 10 Social Security card replacements in your lifetime. If you surpass that number it may be extremely difficult to get a replacement card, if not impossible. 

Thank you for reading I hope you found this information helpful.