Getting, Modifying and Replacing Social Security Cards: What You Should Know

​Q: How do I get a Social Security number for the new baby we’re expecting?
A: When you apply for your baby’s birth certificate, you can apply for a Social Security number at the same time. If you have the baby in a hospital, you can complete both applications before you leave the hospital. Learn more about Social Security cards through www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs

Q: We adopted a baby girl from overseas and brought her to the U.S. Can we get a Social Security number for her?
A: Yes. Generally, you must complete an application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5 (see www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber​). 
You must provide:
1) documents that prove your child’s U.S. citizenship or immigration status; adoption; age; and identity;
2) a document proving your identity;
3) evidence establishing your relationship to the child. (You can use the adoption decree or the child’s amended U.S. birth certificate for this purpose.)
  Usually, you can mail or take your application and original documents to your local Social Security office. All documents must be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. You will receive your child’s number and card by mail once the Social Security office has verified your documents.
If you do not yet have proof of your child’s citizenship, a Social Security number may be assigned based on Department of Homeland Security documentation issued when your child first arrived in the U.S. Once you’ve received your child’s citizenship documentation, take it to the Social Security office so your child’s record can be updated. 

Q: Can I use a plastic version of my paper Social Security card?
A: The Social Security Administration does not recommend using plastic or metal versions of your card, or making copies of or laminating your paper card, or carrying your card with you. Generally, you will only need to produce your Social Security card when you apply for employment. Keep any document that includes your Social Security with your important papers, and question anyone other than your employer who asks for your number or your card. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Q: How do I change my name on my Social Security card?
A: Gather documents proving your legal name change (e.g., marriage license, divorce decree, certificate of naturalization showing a new name, or a court order showing your name change). Also collect evidence of your identity (driver’s license or state-issued ID) and your U.S. citizenship or immigration. Then, complete an application for a Social Security card and take it, along with your documents, to your local Social Security office. Documents must be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. Mailed documents will be returned with a receipt. Once the Social Security office receives the application and documents, your new card will be mailed to you. It will show your old number and your new name.

Q: If I lose my Social Security card, can I replace it?
A: You should know your Social Security number, but you may not need to replace your card, since you will rarely need to show it. However, if you want to replace your card, you can take or mail an application to your local Social Security office, along with original documents or certified copies from the issuing agencies, proving your identity and your U.S. citizenship or your current work-authorized immigration status. If you are a noncitizen without a work permit, you must provide a letter from a federal, state or local government agency stating that you meet the requirements for a Social Security benefit and explaining why you need a number.

9/21/2015

The information for this “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Social Security Administration. It was prepared by the Ohio State Bar Association. ​

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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