If you need to get a Social Security card replacement, you’ll probably want to get your new card as soon as possible. Having your Social Security card lost in the mail or missing can be a huge pain. However, this isn’t the only reason to request a replacement Social Security card. Perhaps you’ve changed your name, your card is damaged, or you simply want to change your Social Security number.
No matter the reason, there are a few simple steps you can follow to get a replacement card in your possession. So, let’s take a look at how to get a Social Security card replacement as soon as possible!
What do I need to get a replacement Social Security card?
Before you start making phone calls or driving to one of the nearest Social Security office locations, you should gather together the right information. The type of paperwork and information you need will depend on the reason you’re asking for a Social Security card replacement. Here are a few of the most common reasons, along with the paperwork and information you’ll need to provide:
Lost Social Security Card
If you lost your Social Security card, you’ll need to provide the following documentation:
- Proof of Citizenship (your original birth certificate or a valid U.S. passport)
- Proof of Identity (State-issued ID, Driver’s License, or U.S. passport)
In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional proof of identity, which could include employee or student ID cards, health insurance cards, or U.S. military ID cards.
Name Change on Social Security Card
If you legally change your name for any reason, you will be required to inform the Social Security Administration to get a new card. In addition to the documents outlined above (Proof of Citizenship and Proof of Identity), you will also need to provide the following documentation:
- Proof of Name Change (marriage certificate, divorce decree, Certificate of Naturalization showing your new name, or a court order approving the name change)
If you got your name change more than two years ago, you may also be required to provide evidence of your old name. You can even use expired documents if necessary.
Social Security Number Change
Can I change my Social Security number? The short answer is ‘yes.’ However, there are a few important caveats. You can only request a Social Security number if you meet one of the following requirements:
- Sequential numbers assigned to family members are causing issues
- You have the same number as someone else
- You have been a victim of identity theft
- You are being harassed, abused, or threatened
- You have religious or cultural objections to certain numbers (this requires written documentation in support of the objection from the religious group with which you are affiliated)
If one of the situations above applies to you, you can request a Social Security number change and a new card at your local Social Security office. You will need to fill out an application, explain the reason for the number change, and provide credible documentation that supports your reason for the request. You will also be required to show the standard Proof of Citizenship and Proof of Identity documentation.
Where do I go to get my Social Security card replacement?
Even if your Social Security card is stolen, you can get a replacement Social Security card free of charge through My Social Security. This online portal allows you to quickly apply for a Social Security card replacement, as long as you meet the following requirements:
- You are 18 years or older
- You have a U.S. mailing address
- No name or number change is required
- You have a driver’s license, passport, or valid state ID
However, if you do not meet all of these requirements, you will need to make an appointment at your local Social Security office. You can typically make this appointment online or by phone, but you will have to go to the Social Security office with the proper documentation for your appointment. Fortunately, the card will still be free of charge.
If you’re currently out of the country or you live abroad, you can still request a Social Security card replacement through the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy. You can find the nearest U.S. representative in your country by consulting USEmbassy.gov.
Once you’ve finished the application process, you will need to decide if you want the card mailed to your address or sent to the nearest Social Security office or relevant government building (i.e. Embassy, Consulate, etc). The wait time will not change much — regardless of which method you choose. If you prefer to let the Social Security Administration hold onto your card until your ready to pick it up, you can usually arrange for this in advance. However, most people opt for getting their Social Security card replacement sent in the mail.
Either way, you can expect to wait about two weeks to get the replacement Social Security card in your hands. If you requested a name or number change, it may take a little longer for the Social Security Administration to go over and verify all of your paperwork. If this happens, it could take longer than a month to get your replacement card.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, knowing your Social Security number — and making sure that others DON’T know it — are the two most important factors to consider. In fact, the Social Security Administration states that it is not necessary to apply for a Social Security card replacement if yours is lost or damaged. However, if you get a name change or need to request a number change, you will need to apply.
Additionally, many businesses, lending institutions, and government agencies require you to show your Social Security card for different processes. So, having an original Social Security card on hand can be very useful. In short, it’s still a good idea to get a Social Security card replacement as soon as you can!