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How Does the Application Process for a New or Replacement Social Security Card Work?

The application process when it comes to a new or replacement Social Security card is simpler than you might think. Why then do you people run into trouble with it? Simply put, you’re dealing with government bureaucracy, and that can be trying at times.

Let’s explain the process and highlight potential sticking points along the way.

Decide How You Will Apply

You can apply in one of four ways:
  • In person: This could be a task, especially if you have to take time off work or the office is out of the way for you. The advantage of applying in person is that you get to show your documents and take them home with you. So, you don’t have to give up your driver’s license while the application is being processed
  • Online with the Department: This is one of the easiest ways, but it does depend on how much verification the department can do online. Not everyone is going to be able to apply online
  • Online through an Agency: This costs a little more than applying directly, but the agency does make the process simpler and will tell you exactly what documents you need to apply
  • By mail: You can also post through your application plus the supporting documents. These will be mailed back to with your new card when they’ve been processed. It takes around two weeks, so if you use your driver’s license as proof for something, you’ll be without it for that time

Complete the Forms

No matter which method you choose, you’ll need to complete the relevant form. The online method is simple since it’s all right at your fingertips. When using one of the other options, you’ll need to download the form, print it out, and complete it.
If you’re going to the offices to apply in person, you could skip downloading the form. We recommend that you get as much done as possible before you head through to the office to hand in your application.

Attach the Requisite Supporting Documents

The department will bear no breaking of this rule. You’ll usually need to provide:
  • Proof that you are a citizen: A passport or birth certificate will suffice
  • Proof of Identity: You’ll need to give an official document that has your name and date of birth or age on it
The sticky part here is that you’ll need to let the department see the originals, or get a copy of the original certified by the department that issued the document. So, if you want to present a copy of your birth certificate, the copy will need to be certified by the Registrar of Births and Deaths.
Another sticking point might be that you are not allowed to use the same document for two different questions. So, while your passport does prove that you are both a citizen and who you are, your application would be rejected if you just supplied the passport.
You’d have to back up the information thereon by sending a copy of your ID card, or birth certificate as well.
If you don’t have access to these documents, there are others that are acceptable as well. You can see more on SSA’s website.


Once you have completed your application and collected all the right documentation, all that is left is to submit your forms and wait for your new Social Security card.

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