I enjoy giving tips and advice to others on navigating politics in the United States.
What Is a U.S. Social Security Card?
Here in the United States, every citizen has a Social Security card and their own unique Social Security number. At birth, a number is randomly selected for that newborn, and their Social Security card is created.
A Social Security number is a combination of nine numbers in a 000-00-0000 format. Initially, certain sets of numbers might have a direct connection to where you were born or even when, but any associations have since been abandoned.
Our Social Security numbers have become one of the most widely recognized proofs of identification. With such importance being put on these numbers, they have also become a way for identity thieves to pretend to be someone else to open lines of credit and run up debt.
How Do I Get a Social Security Card?
In this article, we'll look at:
- How a new card is issued when a baby is born
- What you need to do to get a new card
- Why you shouldn't carry your card around with you
- How to replace a lost or missing card
- Ways you can protect yourself from identity theft
- What the Social Security Administration requires for a replacement card
How to Get a New Social Security Card
Getting a new card is a fairly automatic process. After a birth occurs, the information for the new little person needs to be submitted to Social Security so they can get their own Social Security number.
- Submit Forms and Your Baby's Birth Certificate: You will need the proper paperwork. The hospital should have the forms and the original birth certificate; both need to be sent to the Social Security office. More often than not, a certified copy of the birth certificate will be acceptable if you are worried about taking the original.
- Wait for the Mail: The number assignment is a pretty quick process. Getting the physical card in the mail will take a minimum of a few days, but it could take a week or two, depending on any possible backlogs.
How to Replace a Lost Card
Chances are that you may have lost your card for whatever reason. Fortunately, there is a process for dealing with this.
Why You Shouldn't Carry Your Card With You
Even though everyone here in the U.S. legally has a Social Security card and number, it is not something that you should carry around with you like you do your driver’s license or credit cards. If your card number were to fall into the wrong hands, some real damage to your credit history could occur.
If someone stole your identity, they could open up a new credit card in your name and rack up a bunch of charges very quickly. More often than not, these charges can be erased, but the time it will take you to deal with this problem can be substantial.
Step 1: Identity Theft Protection
Since identity theft has become such a big problem, procedures have been implemented to help protect consumers. It is strongly suggested that you contact all three of the big credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) if you feel the security of your Social Security card and number may have been compromised. These agencies can actually put a password on your Social Security number—hopefully before any new credit can be established.
The password works great because it protects you and can actually help capture any criminals trying to use your number illegally. Just imagine a thief trying to open a department store credit card. When the company submits the request to the credit agencies, they will see a password on the number. The company will then ask the thief what the password is. Since they do not know what the password is, they will not get a new card and might get caught too; it is a win-win solution to a big problem.
Step 2: Report the Missing or Lost Social Security Card
Report that your card is missing to Social Security. This will put a flag on your account and similarly protect you from what the credit agencies do with the password previously mentioned above. Notifying Social Security will also begin the replacement card process. The process isn’t difficult, but it does have the potential to take a few hours of your day and some of your hard-earned money.
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Step 3: How Do You Replace a Social Security Card?
To get a replacement Social Security card, you have to do a few things:
- Fill Out the Form: Go to the Social Security website and get the replacement card form. This form needs to be completely filled in where they prompt you. It also comes with instructions as to the process for getting a replacement card.
- Provide Photo ID: Proof of identification will be required. This requirement is usually met by providing them with your driver's license. Where it gets complicated is when you are replacing a card for a minor. Just providing the Social Security office with a copy of a birth certificate won't be enough—they need some kind of photo identification. If they have a school ID, that can usually count, but not all schools do ID cards anymore.
- Visit the Office (Optional): Don't be afraid to call your nearest Social Security office if you have any questions about replacing a card. Most of these offices are on a "first come, first served" basis. You can wait for hours if you go there at the wrong time. Making sure you are ready before going to the office is smart.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How much dose a replacement card cost?
Answer: At this time, getting a replacement social security card is a free service. You will be required to provide some documentation to prove you are who you say that you are. For the documents needed, you can visit the Social Security Administrations website here: https://faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/articl...
David (author) from Idaho on April 04, 2013:
CREDITRevize - Good points. Too many companies say they are there to help you when that might not be their real intentions.
CREDIT Revize from 100 Church Street, 8th Floor New York, NY 10007 on April 03, 2013:
When looking for a credit repair counselor, do your homework before you sign on the dotted line. Check out their reputation with the Better Business Bureau and even your local Chamber of Commerce if they are local. Ask questions and pay close attention to the paperwork they are supposed to present you with.
David (author) from Idaho on July 30, 2012:
Marcy - It is still a cumbersome process. I know we can do better but it still operates ineffectively and makes it very difficult and time consuming to replace a lost card. Thanks for the comment.
Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on July 28, 2012:
I had to replace my card once - I had lost it many years ago, and just got by with knowing the number. Then, when I started a new job about 10 years ago, I had to present a 'real' copy of it. I'm sure the process has improved, but I recall a long line to get it done. I'm glad to have it now, though. Voted up and up!
David (author) from Idaho on July 17, 2012:
vocalcoach - Thanks for voting and commenting.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 13, 2012:
Thanks for writing this hub on the social security card. You've hit on some important features. I voted up.
David (author) from Idaho on July 13, 2012:
Patty - I'm glad it was useful. Thanks
David (author) from Idaho on July 13, 2012:
Nettlemere - I'm sorry but I'm not familiar with the insurance card you mentioned.
Patty Kenyon from Ledyard, Connecticut on July 13, 2012:
Useful information that is good to know!!!
Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on July 13, 2012:
This looks a bit similar to the uk's national insurance card but we don't get issued them until aged 16. Useful information.