What is Social Security and How Does it Work?

The social security program was first introduced in 1936. Since then, it has been used as a means to identify and track individuals, track your lifetime earnings, and calculate your Social Security benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns nine-digit Social Security numbers (SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERs) to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and eligible nonimmigrant workers in the United States.

The social security administration uses social security numbers to report wages to the government, track Social Security benefits, and for other identification.

Every female and the male student to who U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants employment authorization to needs a social security number. The social security number is one of the most important things contained in your social security card. 

This article serves as a guide for getting a new social security card. In addition, you would learn what a social security card is and why you need it. 

What is a social security card?

A social security card is a card containing your name, citizenship, date of birth and social security number. It is one of the most valid means of identification in the U.S. The social security number contained in your social security card is a nine-digit number that the U.S. government issues to all U.S. citizens and eligible U.S. residents who apply for one.

The government uses this number to keep track of your lifetime earnings and the number of years worked. 

When the time comes to retire, or if you ever need to receive social security disability income, the government uses the information about your contributions to social security to determine your eligibility and calculate your benefit payments.

Most people will use the same Social Security number their entire lives, though some people might need to apply for a replacement number at some point because of identity theft.

Why do you need a Social Security Card?

If you are a U.S citizen, a social security card is one of the must-haves. As mentioned above, the social security number that would be assigned to you in your social security card is important when you need to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and get some other government services.

You should keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers and avoid giving it out unnecessarily. Keep in mind that in many cases, even if you lost your card, you may not need a replacement. In most cases, simply knowing your social security number is enough. 

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In addition, you also need your social security card as evidence when you want to get your driver’s license. Your security card also shows your citizenship besides other details about your identity. This is such that in case of any emergency, you can seek after your security card to show who you are. 

Anytime you get hired for a new job, your employer will ask for your Social Security number. Your employer’s accounting department will use this number to report your income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to report your Social Security wages to the Social Security Administration.

Your employer will also use it for state income tax reporting unless your state doesn’t have an income tax. Some other reasons you might need a new social security card are:

  • You need a social security card to open an account in any financial institution. Financial institutions use your SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER to check your credit, to report your interest and investment income or losses to the IRS, to report your tax-deductible mortgage interest to the IRS, and to manage your account.
  • You need a social security card when applying for a federal loan. The card is used to make sure you are eligible for the loan before granting it. Your social security number would be used to ensure that you are not in default of any other loan, that you have citizenship status, and that you are registered with selective service.
  • Your social security card would also be needed when you are enrolling in Medicare. The Social Security Administration works with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to enroll people in Medicare.
  • The social security card is also important when applying for passport. Federal law requires you to provide a Social Security number if you have one when you apply for a U.S. passport. If you don’t have an SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, you must provide a sworn statement that you were never issued one.
  • Finally, you need a social security card for your tax return. The IRS uses this number to match the income you report on your tax return to the income your employer and financial institutions report having paid to you. 

When do I avoid Using my Social Security Number?

Federal law basically lets anyone ask for your Social Security number, but that doesn’t mean you need to give it out. You should use your Social Security number as infrequently as possible. Just because someone asks for it doesn’t mean they truly need it.

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For example, though most medical providers will ask for your social security number, you can leave the line asking for it blank when filling out medical paperwork, and often, no one will question it.

Your doctor’s office and other businesses can use other information to identify you and keep track of your records. That said, while you can refuse to provide your social security number, the other party can also refuse to do business with you.

You also shouldn’t carry your Social Security card around with you unless you will use it for a specific purpose that day, such as when you’re filling out paperwork to start a new job, and you have to show it to your employer as proof of citizenship.

You don’t want to risk losing your card or having it stolen since thieves can use this number, in combination with your other personal data, to apply for credit, take out loans, get a job, or even get health care in your name, creating a potentially massive identity theft problem for you to clean up.

Instead, keep the card in a secure place at home or in a safe deposit box at the bank. If your card is lost or stolen, you’ll want to apply for a new one.

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What Documents do I need for a New Social Security Card?

The documents you would need for a new social security card depend on whom the card is for. The card for an adult and a child do not have the same requirement. Your citizenship also matters as well. 

For original and new cards for a U.S born adult, the original documents and copies certified by the agencies must be provided. Photocopies or notarized copies are not accepted. The documents you would need to include:

  • Citizenship document
  • Age certificate
  • Identity card

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How do I get a new Social Security Card?

After you have provided all the original documents you need, you can then fill out and print an application then submit it or mail it. 

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Note that when submitting documents to social security, you should not mail original primary documents that should be kept secure in your possession, such as driver’s licenses, passports, or immigration documents. If you prefer, you may choose to mail the secondary evidence of identity and less sensitive material. 

In addition, the social security administration offers additional options for submitting documents, including Express Interviews by appointment, and Drop Boxes, where available. You should call your local Social Security office if you would like to drop off your evidence or if you think you may qualify for an in-person appointment. 

Also note that if you are applying on behalf of someone else, you also must show evidence of your relationship to, or responsibility for, that person. You must also show proof of your identity.


Many businesses will ask for your Social Security number simply because it’s a convenient way for them to identify customers.

Unfortunately, criminals can use your Social Security number to commit identity theft, so you should guard your social security number carefully and only give it out when absolutely necessary.

I hope this guide on how to get a new social security card has helped you find a path. 


How can I get a new Social Security card fast?

The fastest way to get a Social Security card is to request a new one online. You can also visit a local SSA office in your area. According to the SSA website, it typically takes 10 to 14 business days to receive your new card once your application has been processed.

How long does it usually take to get a new Social Security card?

It takes about two weeks to get a new social security card. 

Is getting a new Social Security card free?

Yes. There is no charge for a Social Security card. This service is free. 

Can you apply for a social security number online?

Yes. You can use a “my Social Security account” to apply for a replacement Social Security card online if you are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address



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