What is the Purpose of a Social Security card?
A social security card and number are used to monitor your work history and lifetime earnings. This way, if you need to access your Social Security benefits during retirement, the US government can determine whether you are eligible for these benefits or not. Additionally, the Social Security number is used by employers to file your wages to the SSA and your earnings to the IRS. Your Social Security number is also important when opening a bank account, enrolling in Medicare, filing a tax return, applying for a federal loan, getting a passport, or obtaining a driver’s license.
Types of Social Security Cards
- The Social Security Card that most people have and was issued since 1935 is the first type of SS card. It contains the name of the person and the social security number. It allows the bearer to work without any restriction. This type is issued to permanent resident aliens and US citizens.
- The second type of SS card contains the NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT note. This is issued to people from countries outside the US who were legally admitted to the US without U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services work authorization. However, they need an SSN since it is required by the state in order for them to get service or benefit.
- The third type was first released in 1992. It contains the note VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION. This is given to those who are admitted in the US on a provisional basis. They have USCIS’ authorization to work.
How Do I Apply?
The process for getting a Social Security card is very easy and most of the time free. Replacing your old Social Security card with a new one is free provided that you have not applied more than three times in a year or ten times in your entire lifetime. You can apply for a Social Security card online if you meet these criteria:
- You have a US mailing address
- You are at least 18 years old
- You are a legal US citizen
- You are not requesting a card because of a legal change of name
- You have a US driver’s license or ID card issued by the government from any of the states mentioned in the Social Security website.
If you do not meet any of the criteria mentioned above, you are not qualified to apply online and should personally apply. Bring the necessary documents which may vary based on the card type you are requesting and your citizenship.
Proof of Citizenship
If you lost your Social Security card and are applying for a replacement, the only proof accepted are US-issued passports and US-issued birth certificates. Additionally, using Certificate of Report of Birth for Foreign Born US Citizen’ is also acknowledged as a proof of citizenship.
Proof of Identity
The SSA or Social Security Administration only accepts documents as proof of identity if they are not expired, contains the full name, a recent photograph, and the date of birth. This includes the following:
- Driver’s License
- An ID card issued by the state where you are a resident
- US passport
Failure to provide any of the documents mentioned above, you can also use other kinds of identification. You can submit an employee ID card, a school ID card, US-issued military ID card, and health insurance card.
Proof of Age
Most of the time the SSA will utilize your birth certificate to determine your age. If you do not have a birth certificate, the following will suffice:
- Hospital records containing details about your birth
- Religious records showing your birthday. This must be when you were at most 5 years old.
- US-issued passport
Tips When Applying for an Original Social Security Card
The process when applying for an original social security card is a bit different. This includes the following conditions:
- Any person above 12 years old and has never had an original social security card and number on the record is obligated to appear in person for a one on one interview. Also, they will be required to show evidence that they do not have any Social Security number.
- For US citizens who stayed in another country for a long time, school records, passports, employment records, and other documents that contain evidence of long-term residence outside the US can be used as a supporting proof.
- Individuals who are in the US and applying for a number can use tax records and school records as proofs that they were never issued a social security number.