A Social Security Number (SSN) is a vital identification tool in the United States. Given at birth or upon approval of certain immigration statuses, this unique number aids in tracking an individual’s employment records and other social services. The physical card bearing this number can be easily misplaced, especially in the case of minors. Thankfully, obtaining a replacement Social Security card for a minor is a straightforward process.
Why Replace a Lost Social Security Card?
For minors, a Social Security card might be necessary for various reasons:
- Proof of Identity: For medical procedures, school enrollment, and other official paperwork.
- Tax Purposes: When claiming a child on a tax return, their SSN is needed.
- Employment: In rare cases, if a minor is working, their employer might require a copy of their Social Security card.
Steps to Obtain a Replacement Card for a Minor:
Determine Eligibility for Online Application: The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers an online platform, ‘My Social Security,’ where you can request a replacement card. However, not everyone qualifies for this. The minor must be a U.S. citizen with a mailing address in the U.S, and the parent or guardian must have ID documents or be able to provide information about the documents to prove their own identity.
Prepare Necessary Documents: The SSA will require original documents or certified copies from the issuing agency to prove the child’s:
- U.S. citizenship or lawful non-citizen status Commonly accepted documents include:
- U.S. birth certificate (proves both identity and citizenship)
- U.S. passport (proves citizenship)
- School ID card, school record, or doctor/medical record (for identity if the minor is under 12)
For non-citizens, documentation like the Permanent Resident Card, Certificate of Citizenship, or foreign passport with an eligible visa can be used.
Complete an Application: Fill out the SS-5 form, which is the ‘Application for a Social Security Card’. This form is available for download on the SSA website and is also available at local Social Security offices.
Submit the Application: Depending on your eligibility and preference, you can:
- Use the online platform ‘My Social Security’ (if eligible).
- Mail the application and necessary documents directly to your local Social Security office.
- Visit your local Social Security office in person. Some people prefer this method to ensure they retain all their original documents, but it’s always wise to check for any COVID-19 or other related restrictions beforehand.
Wait for the Card: Once all documents are received and verified, the SSA will mail the replacement Social Security card to the address provided. It should arrive within 10-14 business days.
Things to Keep in Mind:
- Replacement cards are free of charge. Beware of services charging fees to help you replace your Social Security card. It’s often an unnecessary expense.
- The SSA allows for up to three replacement cards in a year and ten during an individual’s lifetime.
- Protect the new card once received. Social Security numbers can be used fraudulently, so always keep them in a safe place.
Losing a Social Security card can be a stressful experience, especially when it belongs to a minor. However, the process of replacing it is systematic and straightforward. Ensure you have the right documents at hand, follow the required steps, and soon enough, you’ll have the replacement card. Remember, the SSN is sensitive information. Once you have the replacement, take measures to prevent its loss or misuse in the future.