How to Get a New Social Security Card

As careful as you are with your IDs, insurance cards and other important documents, somehow you've lost your Social Security card with your nine-digit identifier. At this point, it may help to remember that mishaps like this are called “accidents” – not “intentionals” – and that you can apply for another card, either online or by visiting your local Social Security Administration office. The process takes time, but you need your card because it provides your link to the office that charts your wages and monitors your future benefits.

Apply for a Social Security Card Online

You can apply for a replacement Social Security card from the comfort of your home or office if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen who is at least 18 years old and who has a U.S. mailing address Will not be requesting a name change (or any other change) to your card Have a driver's license or a state-issued identification card from one of these states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware (driver's license only), District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington or Wisconsin (driver's license only)

You will have to sign in with the Social Security Administration or create an account, but at least you'll be a few clicks away from ordering a new Social Security card online and having it mailed to your home.

Apply for a Social Security Card “Manually”

To apply for a new card at a Social Security Administration office, you must gather documents that supply proof of your U.S. citizenship, age and identity. These documents must be originals or copies that are authenticated by the agency that issued them. The Social Security Administration will not accept photocopies.

Prove your citizenship with either a U.S. birth certificate or a U.S. passport.

Prove your age with a U.S. birth certificate. The Social Security Administration states that, if you don't have a U.S. birth certificate, it “may” accept a religious record showing your date of birth that was created before you were 5, a U.S. hospital birth record or a U.S. passport. It doesn't give information about what to do if these documents are declined.

Prove your identity with a card or document that includes your name, an identifier such as your age or date of birth and a photograph. Such forms of identification include: a U.S. driver's license, state-issued identification card or U.S. passport. If you don't have these documents, the Social Security Administration will ask to see others, such as: an employee ID, a school ID, a U.S. military ID or a health insurance card (though not Medicare).

Next, you’ll have to complete an “Application for a Social Security card” and then take or mail all of this information to your local Social Security Administration office. If you can't find one online, call 800-772-1213.

Be Careful With Your Replacement Card

After a few weeks, you should receive your replacement card. The Social Security Administration recommends that you keep it in a secure place – a locked box at home, a safety deposit box at a bank – with other important documents. If you insist on keeping the card with you, you may place it in a piece of removable plastic, but you should not laminate it. This plastic bonding technique can hinder detection of security features.