In the modern often paperless world, there remains an occasional need to produce paper documents. Starting a new job and collecting Social Security benefits are two examples of times when a person would likely have to present an actual Social Security card. But if the card is nowhere in sight, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide a copy. Although the fastest way to get a Social Security card replacement typically is applying for one online, an applicant's local SSA office may be able to help speed up the process.
Social Security Card Option
The rampant proliferation of identity theft prompts many employers (and other entities) to request seeing a Social Security card to confirm the identity of applicants and new hires. But instead of asking prospective employees to go through the Social Security card replacement process, there is another option for employers. The SSA offers the free Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS) to employers, which verifies whether an employee’s name and Social Security number matches SSA’s records.
Social Security Card Replacement Limits
In situations that require someone to produce a Social Security card, getting a copy of it is a fairly easy process. Applicants don’t even have to pay for the replacement card, and they're allowed up to three replacement cards in a year and 10 replacement cards over their lifetimes. The SSA may issue additional cards on a case-by-case basis that exceeds these limits due to compelling circumstances. Two exceptions that are never considered in these limits are legal changes to someone’s name and changes in someone’s alien status that results in a required change to the restrictive legend on the card.
Read More: How to Order a Replacement Social Security Card Online
Social Security Card Evidence Requirements
Before applying for a Social Security card replacement, applicants must provide what the SSA calls “evidence requirements.” This simply means that the SSA needs supporting documentation to prove an applicant's identity. Some of the documents that SSA accepts include a driver’s license, passport, Department of Homeland Security document, school records and medical records. A birth certificate is insufficient evidence because it does not provide a photograph or current physical description of the applicant.
Applying for Replacement Card Online
To apply for a copy of a Social Security card online, applicants need to sign into their “My Social Security” account, or create a new account by visiting SSA.gov, clicking “Sign In/Up” and following the prompts. This free service is available to
Applying for Card in Person
By visiting SSA.gov and searching for Form SS-5 (Application for a Social Security Card), applicants can access and print the application. On Line 11 of this form, applicants should check "Yes" to indicate that they have previously filed for, or received, a Social Security card. After completing the application, applicants can take it in person to their closest SSA office, which they can find by visiting SSA.gov/locator and clicking on “Locate an Office by Zip.” If applicants prefer to mail their application, they can ask their local office for its mailing address.
Applicants that have questions or need assistance can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778 for the deaf and hard of hearing).
Whether applying for a Social Security card replacement online or applying in person at a local SSA office, applicants should receive the card within 10 to 14 days from the date SSA processes the application. Applicants can ask their local SSA office if it can help facilitate this process.
- Social Security Administration: Do You Really Need to See the Card?
- Social Security Administration: Social Security Number and Card
- Social Security Administration: Code of Federal Regulations
- Social Security Administration: Section 422.107 - Evidence Requirements
- Social Security Administration: Application for a Social Security Card
Victoria Lee Blackstone was formerly with Freddie Mac’s mortgage acquisition department, where she funded multi-million-dollar loan pools for primary lending institutions, worked on a mortgage fraud task force and wrote the convertible ARM section of the company’s policies and procedures manual. Currently, Blackstone is a professional writer with expertise in the fields of mortgage, finance, budgeting, tax and law. She is the author of more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.