Your Social Security Card: Lost and Found

Social Security CardIf you’re an American citizen, you’re all too familiar with the nine-digit number that the Social Security Administration uses to keep track of your work wages.

Your Social Security card lists your Social Security number (SSN), which is necessary to get a job, disability and retirement benefits, and other government services.

Need a New Social Security Card?

We’re human. Sometimes we lose things. If you find that you’ve lost your Social Security card, make sure to apply for a new one as soon as possible. Luckily, receiving a new Social Security card comes at no cost to you. You are allowed three replacement cards in a year and 10 in your lifetime.

In order to receive a new Social Security card, you will need several supporting, original documents. The key word is original. The SSA will not accept photocopies. You use these documents in each step of the process to get you new card. These steps are:

  1. Prove your citizenship. In order to prove that you are a U.S. citizen, you will need your original birth certificate or a U.S. passport.
  2. Prove that you are who you say you are. There are only a few select documents that the Administration accepts as proof of identity. They must have your name (spelled correctly), your age and birthday, and a recent photograph. Acceptable forms of identification, although sometimes more than one if needed, include:
    • Driver’s license
    • Identification card
    • Passport
    • A school ID
    • Health insurance card
    • Employee ID
    • Military ID
  3. Print and fill out an application for a new social security card. You cannot request a new card online
  4. Take it to a Social Security office (or you can mail it in) once you finish the application. Find the social security office nearest you.

Protect Your Social Security Number

You should never give your Social Security number (SSN) away unless you know why it is needed and trust the source requesting it. People can use your SSN to steal your identity.

To avoid identity theft, you should never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only carry it with you if you need to show it to an employer or service provider.

If others ask about your number, be sure to ask why they need it, what law requires you to hand it over, and how it will be used. It is always better to be cautious when it comes to your SSN.

Cases where your SSN will be used include:

  • Employment records
  • Tax returns
  • Financial transactions
  • Medicare benefits
  • Hunting or fishing licenses
  • Communicating with the SSA

SSNs have now become a way to identify people. There is a lot of personal information about you behind the number. Therefore, be prepared to hand it over when doing a background or credit check.

Sources: Social Security Administration and NBC news

Photo Credit: via Creative Commons