How To Get A New Social Security Card! Step By Step 2024

Need a replacement ? Don't worry! This guide explains how to get a new social security card online, by mail, or in person. Learn what documents you need and avoid delays!

by Editorial April 14, 2024 in How to Reading Time: 10 mins read 0

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Ever misplaced a tiny piece of plastic that holds the key to your financial life? We've all been there! Your Social Security card, that nine-digit wonder, might be small, but its importance is undeniable. Did you know a whopping 145 million Social Security numbers were compromised in data breaches between 2017 and 2020?

Whether your card is a victim of unfortunate laundry gremlins, a mischievous identity thief, or simply needs an update after a name change, fear not! In this article, we'll talk about how to get a new social security card and much more!

How to Request a Card Replacement?

In most cases, you can request a replacement Social Security card online through your My Social Security account. This is the quickest and most convenient option. However, if you are unable to use this method, you can still apply in person at your local Social Security office or by mail.

Here's a breakdown of the available methods:

  • Online: If you have a my Social Security account, you can replace your card online in just a few steps. This option is only available to U.S. citizens residing in most states with a valid mailing address within the U.S.
  • In Person: Visit your local Social Security office. You can find your nearest office location by searching on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website https://www.ssa.gov/locator/.
  • By Mail: Download and complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. Mail the completed form along with the required documents to your local Social Security office's designated mailing address (not the national headquarters).

Important Note: Regardless of the chosen method, there is no fee for replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card.

When Do You Need to Get a New Social Security Card?

Your Social Security card is an important document, but you won't necessarily need a new one throughout your life. Here's a breakdown of the situations that warrant applying for a replacement card:

  1. Lost or Stolen Card: If you lose your Social Security card, it's crucial to obtain a replacement as soon as possible. A lost card is vulnerable to falling into the wrong hands, potentially leading to identity theft. Report the loss to the SSA immediately. You can do this by calling their fraud hotline (1-800-772-1213) or by visiting your local Social Security office.
  2. Damaged Card: If your Social Security card becomes damaged or illegible, you should apply for a replacement. A damaged card may not be accepted for identification purposes.
  3. Name Change: If you've legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, or court order, you'll need a new Social Security card reflecting your updated name. This ensures consistency across official documents and helps prevent delays in processing benefits or tax returns.
  4. Errors on Your Existing Card: In rare cases, there may be errors on your existing Social Security card, such as a misspelling of your name or an incorrect date of birth. If you discover such errors, apply for a replacement card to ensure the accuracy of your Social Security record.
  5. Applying for a Social Security Number for the First Time: If you haven't received a Social Security number yet (for example, a newborn baby or a new U.S. citizen), you'll need to apply for one for the first time. This process typically involves completing Form SS-5 and submitting the required documents proving your identity, citizenship, and age.

How to Get a New Social Security Card With a Different Name?

If you've legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, or any other reason, you'll need to apply for a new Social Security card reflecting your updated name. The process is similar to replacing a lost card, but you'll need to provide additional documentation proving your name change.

Documents to Support a Name Change:

  • A certified copy of your marriage certificate (for marriage)
  • A certified copy of your court order for legal name change (for other name changes)
  • A certified copy of your divorce decree (for divorce)

Remember: These documents must be originals or certified copies. Photocopies will not be accepted.

Steps to Complete Form SS-5

Whether you're applying for a replacement card or a card with a new name, you'll likely need to complete Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. This form can be downloaded from the SSA website.

Here's a breakdown of the steps to follow for filling out Form SS-5:

  1. Fill in your given name, entire middle name if you have one, and surname exactly as you'd like them displayed on your card. Include any names you were known by at birth or at any previous time.
  2. If you already have been assigned a Social Security number, jot it down here. If you haven't, you can skip this part.
  3. Write down the name of the city and state, or the country if you were born outside the U.S.
  4. Enter your date of birth, including the month, day, and year.
  5. Select the correct option to show your status: are you a U.S. citizen, a legal alien permitted to work, a legal alien not permitted to work, or fall into an ‘other' category? If you're not a U.S. citizen or a legal alien allowed to work, you'll need to provide additional documents with your SS-5 Form. It might be helpful to get in touch with the Social Security Office to see if you're eligible for a number and what documents they'll need from you.
  6. It's optional to provide information for items 6 and 7, which are about your ethnicity and race. This information is used for gathering statistical data on users of the SS-5 form.
  7. Mark the options that apply to your situation.
  8. Indicate your gender by checking the correct box – the form currently only includes ‘male' and ‘female' as options.
  9. List your parents' names and their Social Security numbers if known, or mark ‘unknown' if not.
  10. Refer to the ninth point for instructions.
  11. Indicate whether you or, if applying on behalf of someone else, that person has ever applied for or been issued a Social Security card before by checking ‘yes', ‘no', or ‘don't know'. If not applicable, move on to item 14.
  12. If you answered ‘yes' to the previous item, you'll need to fill out the next two questions, giving the name on the previous card and…
  13. The date of birth if it's different from what you provided earlier.
  14. Write the current date.
  15. Provide a contact number where the Social Security Administration can reach you, including the area code.
  16. Enter the address where you'd like the new card sent.
  17. Sign the document yourself. If the application is for a minor, a parent or legal guardian may sign.
  18. Indicate whether you're completing the form on your behalf by checking ‘self', or if it's for another person, specify your relationship to them.

Documents to Include With SS-5

Obtaining a new Social Security card requires submitting evidence to verify your identity, citizenship (if you're not a U.S. citizen), and sometimes, your age. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific criteria for acceptable documents, ensuring the legitimacy of your request. Here's a detailed breakdown of the document categories you'll need to consider:

Proof of Identity:

  • Primary Documents (Preferred):
    • S. Passport: This is the most universally accepted document for proving identity.
    • S. Driver's License or State-Issued Non-Driver Identification Card: These government-issued IDs with your photo and identifying information are readily accepted.
  • Secondary Documents (Acceptable, but may require additional verification):
    • Military ID Card: Active duty or retired military personnel can use their military ID as proof of identity.
    • Employee Identification Card: Employer-issued photo IDs might be accepted, but additional documents may be requested for verification.
    • School Identification Card/Record: For young children (under 16), a school ID with a photo and date of birth might be accepted.
    • Health Insurance Card or Medicaid Card: These can serve as secondary proof of identity, but additional documentation will likely be required.
    • Certified Copy of Medical Record: Documents from a licensed medical provider showing your name and date of birth might be considered in specific situations.

Important Note: Photocopies of any documents will not be accepted. You must submit originals or certified copies issued by the authorized agency.

Proof of Citizenship:

For U.S. citizens, the most straightforward documents for proving citizenship are:

  • S. Birth Certificate: This is the preferred document for establishing U.S. citizenship since birth.
  • S. Passport: A valid U.S. passport already demonstrates your citizenship.

If you were not born in the U.S. or haven't obtained a U.S. birth certificate, you can submit alternative documents like:

  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570): This document proves you've gone through the legal process to become a U.S. citizen.
  • Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561): This document verifies your citizenship status if you acquired it through a parent.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240): Issued by the U.S. Department of State, this document establishes your U.S. citizenship if you were born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s).

Proof of Age (if you don't have a U.S. birth certificate):

While your birth certificate typically serves as proof of both age and citizenship, in cases where a U.S. birth certificate isn't available, the SSA might accept alternative documents to verify your age. These include:

  • Hospital Birth Record: An official document from the hospital where you were born can establish your date of birth.
  • Military Record: Military service records often include your date of birth.
  • Passport (if it shows your date of birth): A passport issued by any country that displays your date of birth can be used.

What After Submitting Your Application?

Once you've completed Form SS-5 and gathered the required documents, you can submit your application using your chosen method:

  • Online: Follow the instructions on your my Social Security account to submit the application electronically. You may need to upload scanned copies of your supporting documents.
  • In-Person: Visit your local Social Security office during their business hours. A representative will review your application and documents to ensure everything is in order. You may be asked to provide originals of your documents for verification purposes. They will then return your original documents to you after they have been copied.
  • By Mail: Mail the completed and signed Form SS-5 along with all required documents to your local Social Security office's designated mailing address (not the national headquarters). This address can be found on the SSA website by searching for your local office location https://www.ssa.gov/locator/.

What Is Your Social Security ID?

Your Social Security number (SSN) is a nine-digit number assigned to you by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It's used to track your earnings and work history throughout your life. This information is crucial for calculating your future Social Security benefits.

Here are some key points to remember about your SSN:

  • Never share your SSN publicly. It's a form of personal identification that should be kept confidential to avoid identity theft.
  • Only provide your SSN when necessary. Legitimate businesses and government agencies will typically request your SSN for tax purposes, employment verification, or benefit applications. If you're unsure about the legitimacy of a request, it's best to err on the side of caution and not share your SSN.
  • Memorize your SSN, but don't carry your card everywhere. There's no need to carry your Social Security card with you unless absolutely necessary. Knowing your SSN by heart is sufficient in most situations.

Can You Find Your SSN?

Unfortunately, you cannot look up your own Social Security number through the SSA website or by phone. This is a security measure to prevent unauthorized access to your personal information. However, there are a few ways to retrieve your SSN if you've forgotten it:

  • Review your tax documents. Your W-2 form issued by your employer will display your full SSN.
  • Check your pay stubs. Most pay stubs will include your SSN for tax withholding purposes.
  • Request a replacement Social Security card. While there is a fee for replacing a non-lost or non-stolen card, you can obtain a replacement card which will include your SSN.

What Kind of Identity Document Do You Need for Social Security?

There are various situations where you might need to provide identification to the SSA. Here's a breakdown of the types of ID typically required:

  • Applying for a Social Security card (replacement or new): You'll need to submit documents proving your identity, citizenship (if you're not a U.S. citizen), and age (as mentioned in the previous section).
  • Verifying your Social Security information: The SSA might ask you to verify your identity and SSN if you contact them regarding benefits or have discrepancies in your work history.
  • Reporting a lost or stolen Social Security card: When reporting a lost or stolen card, you may need to provide identification to confirm your identity.

In most cases, a U.S. driver's license, state-issued non-driver ID card, or U.S. passport will suffice as proof of identity for the SSA.

Key Takeaways

  1. You can replace a lost, stolen, or damaged Social Security card or get a new one with your updated name by applying online, in person, or by mail.
  2. Replacing a Social Security card is free, regardless of the application method.
  3. Applying for a card with a new name due to legal reasons requires additional documentation proving your name change.
  4. Form SS-5 is typically required for a new Social Security card and needs to be filled out accurately with supporting documents for verification.
  5. The required documents for a new Social Security card include proof of identity, citizenship, and sometimes, age.


What steps should I take if I lost my Social Security card?

If you've lost your Social Security card, you should report the loss to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible. Apply for a replacement card online through your my Social Security account or by mailing or submitting an application in person at a local SSA office, with the necessary identification documents.

Can I get a replacement Social Security card at my local office?

Yes, you can obtain a replacement Social Security card at your local SSA office. You'll need to provide required identification documents and fill out an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5).

How do I update my Social Security card after citizenship?

To update your Social Security card after becoming a U.S. citizen, visit a Social Security office with your certificate of naturalization or U.S. passport as proof of citizenship. You must also complete an Application for a Social Security Card (Form SS-5).

Should I worry if I lost my Social Security card?

Yes, losing your Social Security card can increase your risk of identity theft. It's important to report the loss to the SSA, monitor your credit reports, and possibly place fraud alerts or a credit freeze on your accounts, in addition to getting a replacement card.

What happens if I change my Social Security number?

Changing your Social Security number (SSN) is allowed under specific circumstances, such as severe cases of identity theft or harassment. However, it's important to note that changing your SSN may not completely sever ties with your previous identity. Records, including your credit history, associated with your old SSN will still exist.


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