Whether you lost your Social Security card, or you’re helping a loved one who lost theirs, the process of replacing a Social Security card can be confusing. Luckily, the Social Security Administration (SSA) understands that accidents happen. They allow you to replace your Social Security card up to 10 times.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Understand Timing
- Step 2: Contact the Authorities
- Step 3: Monitor Your Identity
- Step 4: Gather Documentation
- Step 5: Request a Replacement SSA Card Online
- Step 6: Visit Your SSA In Person
- Step 7: Replacing a Social Security card After Death
- Step 8: Helping a Loved One Replace a Social Security Card
- Step 9: Changing Information on Your Social Security Card
- Step 10: Keep Your Social Security Card Secure
- FAQs: Social Security Card Replacement
And here’s some additional good news: you rarely need your physical Social Security card. As long as you have your Social Security number (SSN) memorized, you can complete most official and government paperwork.
Below, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to replace your Social Security card if it’s lost or stolen. We’ll also give you some pointers on how to protect your identity—or your loved one’s identity—if and when this happens.
Step 1: Understand Timing
There are only a few situations in which you’ll need to show a physical Social Security card. In all other situations—at the DMV, applying for college, or opening a bank account—you only need to know your Social Security Number.
If you’ve lost your Social Security card, or a loved one has lost theirs, you have plenty of time to get it replaced. In the meantime, you can go through the proper precautions to protect your identity.
Step 2: Contact the Authorities
If you think someone could have stolen your Social Security card, or if you lost it in a location where someone could easily pick it up and use it, you should contact the necessary authorities.
- Your local police station
- The Social Security Administration
Step 3: Monitor Your Identity
Another step you can take to protect your identity if your Social Security card is missing is monitoring your credit activity.
You can do so by enrolling with a reputable, free credit monitoring agency. The service will alert you if anyone applies for a loan or credit card using your Social Security number.
Step 4: Gather Documentation
When you go to request a replacement Social Security card, you’ll need to verify your identity. You’ll need to gather original documents (or certified copies) to prove the following:
- Identity. (Examples: U.S. driver’s license, passport, employee ID card, military ID card, non-Medicare health insurance card, school ID card, state-issued ID card.)
- Age. (Examples: U.S. hospital birth record, birth certificate, or passport.)
- Citizenship. (Examples: U.S. birth certificate or passport.)
Make sure all of your documents, such as your driver’s license and passport, are up to date. The SSA won’t accept expired IDs, certificates, or other documents as evidence. You can also present receipts showing you’ve applied for new documentation.
Step 5: Request a Replacement SSA Card Online
If you’re a U.S. citizen, aged 18 or older, and you have a U.S. mailing address, you can likely apply for a new SSA card online. But this service isn’t available in all states.
If you live in one of the states where the online service is available, and you have a valid driver’s license to prove you live in that state, you can request a new SSA card online.
You’ll need to create a my Social Security account and present the documentation items described above.
Step 6: Visit Your SSA In Person
To request a new Social Security card in person, print and fill out the Social Security card application provided online. Bring the completed application, as well as documentation to prove your identity, age, and citizenship, to your local SSA office.
The Social Security Administration provides the Social Security Office Locator to find the office nearest you.
Step 7: Replacing a Social Security Card After Death
If you’re in charge of a parent or loved one’s estate, you might need access to that person’s Social Security card or number.
As discussed above, you usually won’t need the person’s physical Social Security card. However, identity theft can still occur after someone has passed away.
That’s why it’s important to call the Social Security Administration to report your loved one’s death. That’s also important for managing your loved one’s Social Security benefits after they’ve passed away.
You can do so by calling or visiting your local SSA office or by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. You can also ask the funeral home to report the death to Social Security.
Step 8: Helping a Loved One Replace a Social Security Card
If you’re assisting an elderly or disabled loved one, you can help them through the process. Additionally, you can request a Social Security card for your child or dependent.
Different documents may be required to prove the person’s identity, depending on his or her citizenship status and age.
You can print out the Application for a Social Security Card for your loved one, help them fill it out, and take it in or mail it to your nearest SSA office.
Step 9: Changing Information on Your Social Security Card
If you need to change any information on your Social Security card, including your legal name or corrected birth date, you have to fill out the same application provided above.
You must also provide supporting documentation to prove that the changed information is legitimate.
Step 10: Keep Your Social Security Card Secure
Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, make sure to put it somewhere safe. Doing so will help you avoid losing the card in the future, and it will also keep your identity secure.
As mentioned above, you very rarely need to present your physical Social Security card. In most situations, just providing your Social Security Number will suffice.
That means you can store your Social Security card at home, alongside your other important documents. When you create your end-of-life plan, be sure to include a note about where you’re storing that crucial information.
Your Social Security card isn't just for you, but it's also a way to help your loved ones. When you die, your Social Security card is an important part of the final arrangement process. Knowing this number is necessary for many planning steps after losing a loved one. From planning a virtual funeral with GatheringUs to getting copies of the death certificate, this is an important must-have.
FAQs: Social Security Card Replacement
The process for replacing your own Social Security card or a loved one’s Social Security card is relatively straightforward. You can complete the process online or in person, as discussed above. But you still might be wondering about some of the frequently asked questions about Social Security card replacement, below.
What documents do you need to get a replacement Social Security card?
To request a replacement Social Security card, you’ll need to prove your identity, age, and citizenship. Some examples of documents you can use to do so are listed above.
If you’re a U.S. born citizen, a foreign-born citizen, or a non-citizen, you’ll need different documents to prove your citizenship and identity. Additionally, you may need different documents if you’re requesting a replacement card for someone else.
Visit the Learn what documents you will need to get a Social Security Card page on the SSA website to determine which documents you’ll need.
How long does it take to get a replacement Social Security card?
According to the Social Security Administration website, it usually takes about 10 to 14 business days to receive your new card.
How much does it cost to get a replacement card?
There’s no charge for a replacement Social Security card—the service is free.
Where can you go to get a new Social Security card?
You can apply for a new Social Security card online with a my Social Security Account, or you can apply in person at a local SSA branch.
Replacing Your Social Security Card
You can request a replacement Social Security card, for free, up to three times per year, and up to ten times total. Any requests you make for the purpose of updating or changing information, such as a name change, don’t count toward those limits.
The Social Security Administration makes replacing your Social Security card relatively simple and easy, as long as you have the proper documentation. The tricky part can be making sure your identity is well-protected and safe if your card was lost or stolen.
If you're looking for more tips on recovering and storing important documents, check out our guides on getting a Medicare replacement card, how to store important documents, and how long you should keep documents.
- “How do I apply for a new or replacement Social Security number card?” faq.ssa.gov/en-US/Topic/article/KA-02017