by Cherryl Kjos
Winona Social Security District Manager
A Social Security card and number are almost essentials for life in 21st century America. That is why Social Security wants to make sure that if you or a family member is applying for a new or a replacement Social Security card that you understand the rules on what identifying documents you will need to bring with you. Most people have to make two or more trips to the Social Security office before they have all the required documents. With the tax filing deadline just around the corner, now is the time to make sure you have all the Social Security numbers that you will need for the dependents on your tax return. Here is some useful information that can make the Social Security Number application process easier and quicker.
If you are applying for a new or replacement Social Security card
First, all documents that you bring to Social Security to prove your identity, age, citizenship or immigration status must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Social Security cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of any documents. Social Security also has strict requirements on what documents we can accept to prove your citizenship and identity. You can provide the documents in person or by mail.
Under the new law, only certain documents can be accepted as proof of U.S. citizenship. These include your U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport, or a Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. If you are applying for a replacement Social Security card you do not need proof of your citizenship or age.
Social Security will ask you to prove your identity by providing an acceptable document that shows your name, identifying information and preferably a recent photograph. Examples of acceptable identity documents include your U.S. driver's license, State-issued non-driver identification card or U.S. passport. If you do not have these documents or cannot get a replacement for them within 10 days, we will ask to see other proofs of identity, such as an employee ID card, a school ID card, a health insurance card or an adoption decree.
If you are not a U.S. citizen and are applying for a Social Security card and number, we will need to see your current U.S. immigration documents. Acceptable documents for proof of identity for non-citizens include current U.S. immigration documents from the Department of Homeland Security, such as Form I-551, I-94 with an unexpired foreign passport or a work permit card (I-766 or I-688B).
If you just need to change your name on your Social Security card Each year millions of people change their name. Whether due to a marriage, divorce or any other situation, reporting a name change to Social Security helps ensure that you will receive proper credit for your earnings and, one day, the Social Security benefits based on those earnings. If you need to change your name on your Social Security card, you must show proof of your legal name change. Acceptable documents include a marriage document, a divorce decree stating that you may change your name or a court order for a name change, provided that these documents give identifying information about you, such as your date of birth or age.
If the documents that you provide do not give enough identifying information about you, Social Security will ask that you also provide other documents. You would need two identity documents, one showing your old name and a second document with your new name. And these documents must have identifying information or a recent photograph.
If you want more information
To find out more about the rules for getting a Social Security number and card, just visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber. The website includes all of the information you may need depending upon your personal situation, i.e., needing a replacement card, needing a card because of a change of name, needing a number for a child or a foreign-born adopted child. The website also has valuable information on protecting your Social Security number and on how to report a lost or stolen Social Security card. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 and ask for the fact sheet, New Rules for Getting A Social Security Number and Card.