When my son was born the hospital gave me paperwork to fill out. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. But a few weeks later I received his social security card in the mail. I’ll rarely use it. And since it’s the size of a credit card it’s easy to lose.
In the event I need a Social Security Card Replacement, there are steps I can take. First I need to collect certain documents to prove my son’s identity. Then there is the question of where to request the replacement.
This article answers these questions including the cost. I’ll tell you how to start the process and estimate how long this should take.
Social Security Replacement Card Cost
The social security card replacement cost is free. Every year you are eligible for 3 free replacements. The max is a total of 10 in a lifetime. You will need to provide certain documents to receive your replacement card.
Never pay any person or business for your free social security replacement card. Always work directly with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Even though you can only get 10 replacements in a lifetime, there are exceptions. This is subject to a case-by-case basis if you give them a good reason. But honestly, this card is important and you are putting yourself at risk of fraud from scammers by losing it. Also, changing your legal name does not count as a replacement for the above limits.
How to Get a New Social Security Card
Before you start, you may not have to get a social security replacement card. Your social security card holds a nine-digit number (SSN). It’s more important is to know this number than it is to have the card. That is unless you plan on using it for identification.
Even so, since there’s no photograph on it, it’s not suitable for all identification purposes. But in the absence of a federal ID, it’s the go-to way to positively identify someone other than a driver’s license.
With only the number, you can do a lot of things like take out a loan or obtain other government documents. Another good thing is it never expires.
Social Security Eligibility
You are eligible to obtain a social security card online if the following apply:
- You are 18 or older
- Have a U.S. mailing address
- Are not requesting a name change
- Possess a Driver’s License or ID
- Not available in MN, NV, NH, OK, WV, or US Territories
If you are 18 years or older you can get a new Social Security card.
Having a valid U.S. mailing address is another requirement. A military P.O. Box is acceptable.
If you are requesting any changes including a name change, must apply for a social security card by mail or in person.
Finally, you must have a driver’s license or state identification card. There are some states such as Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, West Virginia, and Oklahoma, where you cannot use the online services to get a replacement social security card. The same applies to U.S. territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico.
You cannot call social security to get a replacement card. This has to be done online, in person, or through the mail.
To order a Social Security Card Replacement, go to the SSA website. Create a free “my Social Security account”. There is a link to the Social Security Replacement Card Form at the bottom of this article.
What You Need to Get a Replacement Social Security Card
To replace your SSN card, you will need to produce the following documents.
Proof of U.S. Citizenship
For proof of U.S. citizenship, only the following documents apply:
- U.S. Birth Certificate
- U.S. Passport
Proof of Identity
- U.S. driver’s license
- State-issued non-driver identification card
- U.S. passport
These documents have to show your name and date of birth or age. They also prefer a recent photograph.
Here is what happens if you do not have any of these documents. They will give you 10 days to get them ready. Don’t worry too much if you don’t think this is possible. There are other options.
Instead of these documents, the following will work.
- School ID
- Work ID
- Health Insurance Card (Not Medicare)
- U.S. Military ID
- Other U.S. government-issued ID
Any documents you plan on using have to be current. Once they expire you can no longer use them. In addition to being valid, they must show your full name, and date of birth (or age).
Social Security recommends something with your picture. This is so they can more easily prove it is you. But they understand how difficult this may be so it’s not mandatory.
Originals and officially issues copies only. No photocopies or scans even if they are notarized. Proof you’ve applied for any of these documents will obviously not be accepted. Anyone can submit an application. Only when it’s through the approval process does it hold value.
Social Security Replacement Card for Child
To obtain a social security card replacement for a child, the following applies. First, the Social Security Administration has to make sure a valid birth record exists if your child was born in the U.S. and is seeking their first Social Security number.
One exception to this rule is if you apply for the number at the hospital when your baby is born. That’s what I did for my first child. The nurses brought me the paperwork automatically without me requesting it. The paperwork is very simple. Even though you have a lot on your mind at the time, doing it then is easier than worrying about it later.
When apllying for a replacement social security card for child, the following documents can be used.
- U.S. Birth Certificate
- U.S. Passport
- State-issued non-driver’s ID
- Adoption Decree
- Hospital or Doctor’s record
- Religious Record
- School daycare record
- School ID
Most of the restrictions apply when applying for your own card. Originals and officially issued copies only, No photocopies or scans even if they are notarized. Proof you’ve applied for any of these documents will not be accepted.
How Long Does a Social Security Card Take to Get
It takes about 2 to 4 weeks to receive a social security replacement card. The same is true whether you are requesting one for yourself or a social security replacement card for a minor.
You can Check Status of Social Security Replacement Card at the SSA website. This link will take you there, but you must sign in first. Make sure the address at the top of your screen starts with https://www.ssa.gov and the site says its secure.
The phone number to contact the Social Security Administration is 1-800-772-1213. I recommend you try their online solutions first. They may keep you on hold for a while and transfer you around when calling.
Regardless of how to applied, a replacement social security card same day is not possible. They need to verify your identity and citizenship which takes time.
Luckily there’s no artificial waiting period built into the delay. For instance, when purchasing a firearm there are delays for a cooling-off period. Social Security assures us they will send your card as soon as they have the information they need. You are at the mercy of the government employees. Not only in an SSA office but the mailmen and women.
Imagine a postal strike when you are waiting for an essential piece of mail. Also, holiday seasons bring a flood of letters and packages that cause a backlog. Don’t forget about winter weather conditions delaying mail transportation and delivery.
Social Security Card Alternative
In place of a Social Security card, you can use a recent pay stub, W-2, or a Social Security Benefit Statement (SSA-1099). To be accepted, they must show your full name and entire SSN. Some documents obscure this number for security. But that also makes it unusable for you as well.
Social Security Card Replacement Scam
Some websites and businesses will try to make you pay for a new Social Security card or name change. Since the SSA provides these services for free, use them instead.
How Social Security Numbers are Stolen
- Phone scams
- Improper Document Handling
Scammers ask for personal information over the phone because you cannot be sure who you are talking to. Often they pretend to be the police or SSA agents to gain your trust. Other times they use threats to pressure you. Read more about Social Security contacting you by phone in our article.
Phishing can be in the form of a fake website or email. Pretending to be legitimate, a scammer will try to have you enter your username and password. Once you do, the scammer now has access to your account.
Improper document handling is as simple as leaving sensitive information unsecure. When you throw any mail or documents with account information in the trash, shred it first. This makes it much harder for dumpster diving thieves to find your personal information.
How Social Security Numbers are Used
- Submit Tax Returns
- Gain Employment
- Obtain Social Security Benefits
- Obtaining other forms of ID
- Bank Loans
- Opening Credit Cards
A lost social security card can create a lot of headaches if it falls into the hands of a scammer. That’s because of all the ways they can use it against you. Once you think about the different ways people use social security numbers, the way scammers misuse them becomes clear. How a scammer uses your social security number mirrors what you need a social security card for.
Your Social Security Number is put on many forms such as your tax return. A scammer can and will use other people’s personal information including their SSN to file a return in their name. They may not know your actual financial details but will put whatever is believable for the highest return possible. Then they direct the return to an account under their control.
Any time you apply for a job, the employer is likely to request your social security number. One reason they need this is to obtain a criminal history background check. But if they hire you, they will use it to notify the IRS of the money they are paying.
Likewise, it is used to track your earnings from this employment. You can obtain Social Security Benefits as a credit for the years you work.
Scammers can obtain other forms of ID using your social security information. They do this to further help them commit their crimes using your identity.
Stealing your Good Credit
Next, you can get a loan from a bank. If you were a bank loaning someone money, you would want to know for sure who you gave the money to. That’s how you know who to expect to repay the loan. Only then can you hold them accountable if they fail to do so.
The same concept is true for credit cards. A scammer can use someone else’s SSN to open a credit card in the victim’s name. Then the card is sent to or intercepted by the scammer and used by them. The scammer does not need to repay the money because the credit card company believed it lent the money to the victim.
Report Social Security Card Scam
To report Social Security fraud, contact the Office of the Inspector General.
You can reach them by phone at their fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or you can submit a report online at their website https://oig.ssa.gov/.
Luckily in my experience, victims of scams are not held responsible for fraud. If a charge is made, the victim does not have to pay once it is proven to be a scam. It doesn’t matter if the scammer is caught or not. As long as it’s clear the victim did not authorize the charges, they will not have to repay the loan.
One way this is determined is often the location of the purchases. Over the years the victim has a long history of weekly purchases in New York. But within hours of these purchases, a few are made in California.
This may cause a red flag from the credit card company. If you travel, you may have run into the issue of your card being declined. This can be inconvenient or even embarrassing. But they do it to limit fraud.
Some credit card companies handle this better than others, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to notify them before traveling.
Replacement social security cards are free. Also, they are easy to apply for online through the Social Security website http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount. You can also get a social security card for a child the same way.
You’ll have to prove both identity and citizenship by showing the forms of identification listed above. Expect to get your new social security card within 2 to 4 weeks.
You can check the status of your Social Security Application directly on the SSA site https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/application-status.html
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