The Social Security Administration issues a nine-digit Social Security number as an identification number for citizens and other residents who work and pay taxes in the United States. It's important to not only commit your Social Security number to memory but to keep your card in a safe place; you may need to show it as proof of identification periodically throughout your life. If you lose your card, however, you can get a new one through the Social Security Administration for free.
Documents Needed for a Replacement Card
Before applying for a new Social Security card, you'll need to show identifying documents like a driver's license, a non-driver identification card from your state or a U.S. passport. You may also need to prove your U.S. citizenship or resident status with a birth certificate. Your identifying documents must be original; if they are copies, they'll need certification by the agency of issue. Photocopies, documents signed by a notary or receipts showing you applied for these identifying papers are not acceptable to use when getting a replacement card.
Apply for a Social Security Card Online
Some states allow you to apply for a lost Social Security card online provided you meet specific requirements. You can do this through your My Social Security account on the SSA website. To create your account, you must be 18 or older, have a U.S. mailing address, a valid email address and your Social Security number. You can only create an account for yourself – you cannot create one for someone else under any circumstances. Also, your account should remain private. Don't share your information with anyone else for any reason.
You can use your account to apply for a replacement card if you are a U.S. citizen 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address and you have a state-issued ID card or driver's license from a participating state or the District of Columbia. You can check the status of your application using your My Social Security account and learn information about your Social Security benefits, see your statements and review the history of your earnings.
These states are not yet set up to process your application online: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia. The online service is also not yet available in U.S. territories including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Read More: How to Apply for a Free Social Security Card Online that Was Lost
Apply for a Social Security Card in Person
After you have your documents in order, fill out the application to replace your lost card. You can download form SS-5 from the Social Security Administration's website at www.ssa.gov and print it out to bring with you to a Social Security Administration office. To find the location of the office nearest you, go to the Social Security Office Locator on the agency's website and plug in your Zip code.
It can take just a few minutes to process your request in person, although it takes approximately two weeks for the actual card to arrive. Make sure the information you provided on your application and your documentation is correct. Mistakes can delay the process. If you need to show someone proof of your Social Security card before your new one arrives, the Social Security Administration will provide you with a temporary printout of the card on official letterhead.
For more help on how to replace a lost Social Security card, or if you have additional questions, visit your local Social Security office or call 800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- Social Security Administration: Create Your Personal My Social Security Account Today
- Social Security Administration: So You’ve Lost Your Social Security Card
- Social Security Administration: Social Security Number and Card
- Social Security Administration: Application for a Social Security Card
- Social Security Administration: Social Security Office Locator
- SocialSecurityOfficeLocation.com: How to Get a Temporary Social Security Card
- Note: Special instructions apply to people who live in or get mail in Brooklyn, New York.; Queens, New York; Orlando, Florida; Sacramento County, California; Phoenix, Arizona (Maricopa County and Apache Junction Area); Las Vegas, Nevada; or Greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, Minnesota. If you live outside the United States you can click on the “Service Around the World” link.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.