You’ve had your social security card for years, maybe your whole life. You memorized it and put it away because you heard it wasn’t safe to carry it with you. Trouble is that new job you were hired for wants to see your card. You’ve torn up the house, but you can not find it anywhere. Could it still be at your parents’ house? You thought it was in your desk with some other papers, but you can not find it anywhere. Now what do you do?
Often, we need to show our social security card. Whether it’s for a new job, to renew our driver’s license, or some other situation where we need to prove we are who we say we are. Sometimes our card is so old and ragged from being carried in a billfold for decades that it isn’t accepted. Maybe in an attempt to keep it nice you put it in plastic, but they won’t accept it that way. Now what do you do? You’re going to have to get a new social security card, probably as soon as possible.
The Social Security Administration Office will gladly issue you a replacement card for free. It is a simple procedure if you plan ahead and know what to expect. You must complete form SS-5 and present it with the proper documents regardless of how you decide to ask for a replacement card. You can print form SS-5 by going to ssa.gov and looking under forms. You apply through the mail, or go in person to the Social Security Administration Office. Calling your local office ahead of time will save you time and trouble. Ask for an appointment that will keep you from being thrown into the crush of walk-ins and spending hours waiting. Be sure and have the proper documents when you apply, you don’t want to make a second trip.
Always present an original document not a photocopy. Going to the office in person is usually the quickest way to get a replacement card. You won’t have to put your documents in the mail and hope for the best. An original or certified copy of your birth certificate will be needed to prove you are a U.S. citizen. A U.S. passport can be used if you don’t have immediate access to your birth certificate. If you weren’t born here then you will need to show naturalization paperwork as proof of lawful non citizen status, such as a green card or work visa.
You will also need to prove your identity. Social Security is careful about who they give replacement cards to. They want to be sure you are really who you say you are. This is a good thing. Identity theft is a serious problem in the United States and the government wants to protect you. Remember your social security number is very valuable. To prove your identity, you should have documents that have your name, age, birth date and other information that can be verified. A photo ID is the best since the person at the social security office only needs to look at it to verify your identification. It must be a current document such as a state driver’s license, a state issued non-driver identification card, or a U.S. passport. Some other kinds of ID that might be accepted are, an employee ID card with a photo, a school photo ID, a U.S. Military ID card, or a non-Medicare health insurance card. Your new card will come in the mail, so apply for it before you are in a situation that needs it. Once you receive it put it in a safe place, one you can remember. It’s still not a good idea to carry it in a purse or wallet. You don’t want a pickpocket or purse snatcher to have the key to your financial kingdom.
The Social Security Administration will replace a lost or stolen card up to three time a year. During your lifetime you can only replace your card a total of ten times, so keep track of it. This naturally, does not include a name change that may happen due to marriage, divorce, or adoption.
Your social security card is possibly the most important document you have. It could be more important than a birth certificate in today’s world. Your number is yours and yours alone it is used to relay information to anyone wanting to do business with you. Through your number others can check your financial fitness. It is how government offices know they are dealing with you, and not an impostor. You need it to open a checking account, buy a car, get a loan, apply for a job, and many other daily things. It is wise to know where your card is before you get in a situation where you need it. A good rule of thumb is assume you will need to show your card along with any other documents you might need for the situation.
You probably received your social security number when you were born. You’ve had it all your life, maybe you memorized it. That little card is how you prove to others you can be trusted. According to the Social Security Administration it is more important to know your number than it is to carry your card. There are, however, times when you will have to show your card. That is why you should keep it in a safe place. If you have a safe or lock box for important documents, your card be in there since it is the most important document most of us possess. If you do misplace it or have it stolen, you only need to make a trip to the Social Security Administration Office to get a replacement. It’s free and simple and in most cases takes less than an hour. Of course, not losing it in the first place is the best idea. But, sometimes things happen no matter how careful we are.