Your Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of documentation you have. This number is often provided to you on a smaller, wallet-sized piece of paper, and it contains a nine-digit number on it. This number is assigned to each person on an individual basis, and it allows the government to track each person’s wages, earnings, and how many years you have worked.
These numbers are free to obtain, and they are provided to all United States citizens and United States residents that are eligible. You are able to apply for a Social Security card if you do not have one, and you can also get a replacement card if you’ve lost yours. In addition, if you change your name, you will be required to obtain a new card with the updated information.
Do You Need a Social Security Card?
Social Security cards are required for a number of different purposes. You are required to present these cards in many different circumstances, and it is important to keep them safe and private.
Common Needs for a Social Security Card include, but are not limited to:
- Filing Taxes. The Internal Revenue Service, which is responsible for calculating taxes and end-of-year refunds, utilizes Social Security numbers to track your income on a yearly basis. Without a current Social Security number, they cannot track your income, provide you a refund, or validate your employment in the United States.
- Gaining Employment. If you are trying to hold a job in the United States, a Social Security number and card will almost surely be a necessity during the application process. Employers require you to have a Social Security number in order to hire you. This is necessary for them to determine if you are legally allowed to work in the United States, and your employer also must use this number to provide the state with the necessary information to determine income tax requirements.
- Obtaining Medicare Coverage. If you are looking to obtain coverage from Medicare insurance, you will be required to present your Social Security card. Medicare is a federally-funded program, so having this federally-issued piece of documentation is critical to your enrollment.
- Applying for Loans or Other Assistance. Whether you are looking to obtain a student loan, another type of federal loan, unemployment benefits, or disability income, you are required to show proof of your citizenship or residency using your Social Security card. Presenting your Social Security number helps the government ensure that only those entitled to these benefits can claim them.
- Getting a Passport. If you are looking to travel internationally using a United States passport, you need to have a Social Security number to apply for one. Without it, you might not be able to receive a passport and may be subject to fines and fees.
How To Obtain a Social Security Card
Whether you are looking to get an original Social Security card or need a replacement card, the process is the same. Social Security cards are free to get, and you can apply for a replacement card through the Social Security Administration website, by visiting a local office, or by mailing the necessary documentation. It is important to note that you can only receive up to three replacement cards in a one-year period and only 10 total replacement cards over the course of your lifetime.
No matter which way you decide to obtain your card, you’ll need to first show proof of your age, citizenship, and identity. These can be shown using a combination of two or more of the following: a current passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, school ID card, or health insurance card.
You will be required to fill out the Social Security card application, which can be found on the Social Security Administration website. After filling out the application, you should bring the required documents and completed application to a local office where they can process your paperwork. New cards are generally issued within 10 to 14 business days.