How to Get a Social Security Number If You Have a Green Card

By Alva Hanns
Individuals are assigned a Social Security number that is used to track Social Security earnings.

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A Social Security number is a 9-digit identifier that the U.S. Social Security Administration assigns to eligible individuals. All citizens born in the United States and all non-citizens who have a valid green card are eligible to receive a Social Security card. Any person who works in the United States must have a Social Security card. The Social Security number is the recognized record-keeping system that employers use to report and record Social Security earnings.

Make sure your green card is not expired. According to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, most green cards have a 10-year expiration date. Some, however, expire after two years and others have no expiration date. If your card has a 2-year expiration date, you are a conditional resident and will need to have the condition removed before your card expires. The Social Security Administration does not accept expired green cards.

Gather the documents you will need to apply for a Social Security card. You are required by the Social Security Administration to present two forms of identification that prove your age, identity and citizenship. If you are not a naturalized citizen, you will need to show your green card to verify your alien registration number. If the Department of Homeland Security issued an Admission-Departure Record to you, it is necessary for you to present this to the Social Security Administration when you apply for your Social Security card. The administration will only accept original documents that are certified by the custodian of the record. All documents are returned unless otherwise indicated.

Complete an application for a Social Security card. Form SS-5, the official application for a Social Security card, is available online for you to print out. Fill it out and mail it to Social Security Administration along with your original documents. You may also call the Social Security Administration and complete the application over the phone. However, the card will not be issued until the administration receives your documents. Or apply in person at your local Social Security office. The advantages of this option are that you will be able to walk out with your original documents rather than having them mailed back to you, and you may also obtain a verification printout that can be used while you wait to receive your card.

About the Author

Alva Hanns began writing professionally in 1993. Her publications include "Social Justice isn't a Myth." She blogs on political websites and is the author of "I Remember the Time" and "God Fulfilled His Promise." She has a Bachelor of Science in social work from the University of Indianapolis and a master's degree in social work from the University of Alabama.