Americans received Social Security : Social Security numbers were originally issued to Americans so that the government could track their job earnings over their lifetimes and calculate their retirement benefits. It’s much more than that now.
Social Security numbers are often used as national identifiers, or to open bank accounts, apply for loans, receive government assistance, get passports, and get driver’s licenses. The hospital gives parents of newborns a Social Security form to complete before they take the baby home.
How much does it cost and how do you get one if you weren’t born in the U.S. or never completed one? The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s free. Here’s how it works.
- 1 How do I get the documents I need?
- 2 How can I prove my citizenship?
- 3 I am an adult who is not a citizen. What should I do?
- 4 What is acceptable as proof of my age?
- 5 How do I prove my identity?
- 6 Is an application also required?
- 7 How long will it take for me to receive my Social Security card?
- 8 What if I only need a replacement card, not a new one?
How do I get the documents I need?
Proof of age, identity, U.S. citizenship, or current lawful, work-authorized immigration status must be provided by at least two original or certified documents. If you are not legally permitted to work, you must provide a valid reason for seeking a Social Security card.
How can I prove my citizenship?
Passport or birth certificate from the United States.
I am an adult who is not a citizen. What should I do?
A valid U.S. immigration document, such as the following, must be presented to prove your immigration status:
- You must submit a completed Form I-551 (Lawful Permanent Resident Card, Machine Readable Immigrant Visa) along with your unexpired passport from a foreign country.
- Work permit or EAD I-766.
- The I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) or the admission stamp in the unexpired foreign passport.
- It is possible for students to show their I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).
- The DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status) must be presented by exchange visitors. The following documents will help you prove your eligibility for work:
- An I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) or an admission stamp in an unexpired foreign passport showing a class of admission that permits work. There are some foreign workers who are required to show their I-766 EADs or “work permits.”
- It is necessary for students to have an official letter from the school as well as a letter from their employer or sponsor that provides their name, work details, school status, and contact information.
What is acceptable as proof of my age?
Typically, people provide their birth certificates, but the Social Security Administration may also accept:
- Your date of birth is recorded in a religious record made before the age of five.
- Birth record from a U.S. hospital.
- Passport issued by the United States.
How do I prove my identity?
A current document showing your name, identifying information (date of birth or age), and preferably a recent photo. You may use the following as proof of identity:
- An American driver’s license.
- A card issued by the state to identify non-drivers.
- An American passport.
- Identification card for employees.
- The school identification card.
- The health insurance card (not the Medicare card).
- A military identification card issued by the United States.
Is an application also required?
Yes, of course. Complete the application once you have collected your documents. You can either print and complete the application and bring it to a local Social Security office for processing, or you can complete the application online and bring it to the local office within 45 days.
How long will it take for me to receive my Social Security card?
After all the information has been verified and processed, you should receive your new Social Security card within 14 business days.
What if I only need a replacement card, not a new one?
In case you need assistance with your original or certified documents, you can always visit a Social Security office. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to request one online.
Use this tool from the Social Security Administration to determine the best option for you.