As long as you have your Social Security number memorized, it's unusual to need the actual Social Security card, which the Social Security Administration strongly advises you to keep stored away in a safe place. If that place has proved to be a little too safe, or you're unable to locate the card for any other reason, you can request a replacement card at any time. The process is straightforward and can be done by mail, in person at a local Social Security office or, in some cases, online. Whatever option you choose, there is no charge, and you'll receive your new card in the mail.
Several documents are required to order a replacement Social Security card, and they must be originals or certified copies. Mailed-in documents will be returned in the mail along with your replacement Social Security card.
Application form: To replace a Social Security card for yourself or your minor child, complete the application form, which is available online at the Social Security Administration website. The same application is used to apply for an original card or to make corrections. Read the instructions, and complete the required information carefully. You can either complete the form online and then print and sign it or print the blank form and fill it out clearly by hand using blue or black ink only.
Proof of identity: In addition to the application form, provide a valid document to prove your identity, such as a driver's license, state-issued identification card or passport. If you don't have and are not able to get one of those forms of ID within 10 days, you might be able to use another form of ID, such as a military, school or employer-issued ID.
Proof of citizenship: If you are not a U.S. citizen, you need a current U.S. immigration document such as a permanent resident card or work permit. If you are a U.S. citizen but have not established your citizenship with the Social Security Administration, provide proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. passport, certified U.S. birth certificate or certificate of naturalization. These are required in addition to proof of identity.
ID for minors: If you are a parent applying for a replacement card for a minor child, use your child's birth certificate to prove his age and citizenship, but also provide an alternative ID to prove the child's identity, preferably one with a recent photograph. A U.S. passport is ideal, but other documents that might be accepted include state-issued ID cards, doctor's records, school or daycare records or a school-issued ID.
If you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older and have a driver's license or state-issued ID from one of 20-plus participating states, you can apply for a replacement Social Security card online. Start by setting up a My Social Security online account. To set up your account, provide your name, date of birth, address and other personal information; choose a username and password; and answer a set of security questions.
After you have set up the account, log in and click the "My Home" tab, then "Overview." On the right side of the page, click the "Replacement Documents" link and then the "Request a Replacement Card" link. Answer the questions to confirm your eligibility, enter the required details including your Social Security number, address and driver's license or ID information, then submit the application.
Apply by Mail
If you opt to mail in your application, send the original, signed application form and original or certified copies of your supporting documents. Mail the package to the Social Security office or Social Security Card Center that serves your area of residence, which you can look up online.
Apply in Person
Take your application and supporting documents in person to your Social Security office or Social Security Card Center. Check the location and operating hours online.
After your application is received by the Social Security Administration, whether by mail, in person or online, you should receive your replacement Social Security card within 10 to 14 business days.
Limits on Replacement Cards
You can obtain a replacement Social Security card a maximum of three times per year, and 10 times in your lifetime. Replacing a card to change a name, update work eligibility status or make corrections does not count toward these limits.
- You are limited to three new social security cards in a year and ten in a lifetime.
Joanne Thomas has worked as a writer and editor for print and online publications since 2004. Her writing specialties include relationships, entertainment and food, and she has penned pieces about subjects from social media tools for Adobe to artists’ biographies for StubHub. Thomas has also written for such names as Disney, Hyundai, Michelob and USA Today, among others. She resides in California and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from the University of Bristol, U.K.