Lost Social Security Card? Here’s How to Replace It

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated June 5, 2020

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social security card
Identity Theft
May 20, 2020

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

A lost social security card may not seem like a big deal, especially if you’ve memorized your social security number, but not having it can cause issues in the long run. Many people use the card to verify their identity for everything from passports to employment. So what should you do if you lose yours? Here’s how to replace a lost social security card.

It’s easier than you might think to replace a lost SS card. As long as you have the right documentation and a little time set aside, you could request a replacement card almost immediately.

Take these steps to get the ball rolling:

Documentation you will need

You will need to prove you are who you say you are before the government will send you a replacement card. Here is a list of documents that you will need:

  • Proof of Citizenship: This can include a birth certificate or a passport.
  • Proof of Age: You will need to prove your age with a birth certificate, passport, or hospital birth record.
  • Proof of Identity: You will also need to prove your identity using one of the following: driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or a passport. If you don’t have any of these, a employee ID card, school ID card, military ID card or health insurance card would be accepted if it includes your date of birth, your name and a recent photograph.

Check the Social Security Administration website[1] to find a full list of the documents that are acceptable for each category.

Apply for a new card

There are a few ways to apply for a replacement for your lost ss card, depending on what is more convenient for you.

Apply online: Go to the Social Security Administration’s website to start the process.

  1. Create a mySocial Security account[2].
  2. Fill out the online application, providing correct documentation.
  3. Once approved, the SSA will send you your replacement card.

If you live in the following states, you CANNOT apply online for a replacement social security card: Alabama, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia. You also can’t use the online application if you are requesting a name change.

Apply in person: Applying in person can take more time than applying online, but it also guarantees that you are talking to the right people, getting your questions answered and providing the correct information. Here is how to apply in person:

  1. Find your local Social Security Administration office. You can do that on the SSA website here[3].
  2. If you want to make an appointment, you will need to call your local social security office to set one up[4]. Appointments cannot be made online.
  3. Show up to your appointment with the correct documentation.
  4. A representative will walk you through the application process and let you know next steps like when your card should arrive.

Two weeks, generally[5]. This is from the time your application is submitted, whether you applied online or in a Social Security Administration office. If you go into the office, they will give you a paper saying that you have applied for a replacement card, which should help if you need to use your card to verify your identity at any point.

Replacing a child’s social security card is essentially the same process as replacing your own card. You will need the correct documentation for your child, which generally includes a birth certificate or a passport.

Applying for a social security number: If your child never received a social security number, then the process is a little more complicated. Any child over the age of 12 will have to submit to an interview to prove their identity. You’ll also need records from all their schools or any employment that they have had. You will also need to provide documentation to prove your own identity and your relationship to the child.

If your card is stolen, you’ll still need to replace it, but there are additional steps to take in order to keep your identity from being stolen.

  1. Contact your local police to file a police report.
  2. Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or online here.
  3. Check your financial accounts for any suspicious activity.
  4. Contact your credit card companies to alert them your SS card was stolen.
  5. Monitor your credit reports for any suspicious activity.
  6. If you can, find an identity theft protection service that can help you monitor your credit reports and other areas where your stolen social security number may pop up.

Even if you lose your card, it might be a good idea to take these steps just in case someone else finds it.

How much does it cost to replace a social security card?

$0. The government does not charge you to replace a social security card.

Can I replace my Social Security card the same day?

No. It generally takes two weeks (up to 14 business days) to receive a new social security card from the government once your application has been processed. Applying online can make the process quicker since you won’t need to schedule an appointment at the social security office.

Can I get a quick temporary social security card?

Yes. If you go to the local office, provide the correct documentation and go through the application process, they will provide you with proof that your card is on its way, which can help in situations where you need the card to prove your identity. You cannot get a temporary card online.

How do I protect my social security card?

Your social security card is not something you need to keep on you at all times. If you have your social security number memorized, you should keep your social security card in a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box at the bank. This helps prevent you from losing it, which can cause major identity theft headaches.

What types of social security cards are there?

The Social Security Administration offers three different types of cards[6], depending on your citizenship status in the country:

  • Standard card: These are the standard cards that all U.S. citizens receive. Immigrants who are lawfully admitted into the country permanently will also receive these cards.
  • Valid for work: These cards are distributed to people who are lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis who have authorization to work from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Not valid for employment: These cards are given to people who have been lawfully admitted to the United States but are not approved by the Department of Homeland Security to work. These are given to people who need a SS number for eligibility for a government benefit or service.

Article Sources

  1. Social Security Administration: Documents Needed
  2. Social Security Administration: mySocial Security
  3. Social Security Administration: Office locator
  4. Social Security Administration FAQ: How do I schedule an appointment?
  5. Social Security Administration FAQ: How long will it take to replace my social security card?
  6. Social Security Administration: Types of Social Security Cards

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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