How to replace a lost or stolen Social Security card

Losing your Social Security card is a common problem: maybe your purse or wallet was lost or stolen. Maybe you moved. Or, you suddenly find that your Social Security card is no longer in the safe spot you put it.

You need to get a replacement Social Security card!  

  • But, how do you do it?
  • Can you just go down to your local Social Security office?
  • What do you need to bring?

You do not want to waste time or make more than one trip.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty, please keep in mind that this article is published by my law firm (Stasiuk Firm PC), and not Social Security. Of all the articles on this blog, this one seems to engender some confusion on this point. We love to speak with you when you call. However, my office cannot help you obtain a replacement Social Security card.

Social Security has a page telling you exactly how to get a replacement Social Security card.

  1. You will need to complete an Application for A Social Security Card (Form SS-5).
  2. Show documentation showing your US Citizenship (Social Security may already have this information).
  3. Show documentation showing your identity.

How do I prove my citizenship?

Social Security may already have your citizenship on file, but in case you need to prove citizenship, Social Security will accept the following:

  • U.S. birth certificate.
  • U.S. consular report of birth.
  • U.S. passport.
  • Certificate of Naturalization.
  • Certificate of Citizenship.

Note: original documents are required.

How do I prove my identity?

Social Security will accept any of the following documents to prove your identity:

  • A US driver’s license.
  • A state issued ID card.
  • A US passport.

If you do not have either of these or your cannot get a replacement for one of these in 10 days, Social Security will ask to see the following:

  • An employee ID card.
  • School ID card.
  • A health insurance card (not a Medicare card).
  • A US military ID.

For young children, Social Security may accept medical records, final adoption decree, school ID card, or school records.

Again, all documents must be originals.  Social Security will not accept photocopies.

Watch out for these pitfalls!

  • While Social Security accepts a birth certificate as proof of citizenship, a birth certificate is not identification.  So, while you may need your birth certificate to prove citizenship, you need another document to prove identity.
  • The ID must be current. Social Security will not accept an expired ID.
  • The ID must show your name.
  • The ID must show identifying information such as date of birth, or age.
  • Social Security prefers if the ID has a recent photograph of you.

How many times can I replace a Social Security Card?

According to Social Security:

You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes and other exceptions do not count toward these limits. For example, changes in noncitizen status that require card updates may not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.

What if I need a corrected or original Social Security card? What if I am not a US Citizen? What if I am applying for a child?

So far, we have discussed getting a replacement card if you are an US Citizen.

There are different document requirements if any of the following apply:

  • There is an error on your Social Security card and you need a corrected card.
  • You have never had a Social Security card and need an original card.
  • You are not a US Citizen.
  • You are applying for a child.

Since several of these may apply, (e.g. you may be applying for a corrected card for a child), Social Security has a web tool to help you figure out what documents you will need.

  1. You first select they type of card you need: original, replacement, or corrected.
  2. Then you select whether it is for an adult or child.
  3. Last you select whether the individual is an US Citizen or not and press the “Submit” button.

Social Security then tells you exactly what documents you will need.

Quick Tips:

  1. If the lines are too long, and you do not have time to wait at the Social Security office, ask the security guard for the best time to come back, or if there is another Social Security office in your area that is less busy.  The security guards are in-the-know about the best times to go to your local Social Security office to get in and out as quickly as possible.
  2. Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, do not carry it with you.  It is just asking for trouble.  That is advice directly from the Social Security Administration.

Do you have any tips to share about getting a replacement Social Security card?  Tell me in the comments!

Photo by Khánh Hmoong

  • ashley

    how long does it take to get there?
    do u get it on the spot?

  • http://socialsecurityinsider.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Sorry Ashley, I am afraid I don't know.

    Can anyone chime in with how long it took to get a replacement card?

  • rachel

    For a replacement card for a child, does the parent have to be there? Or can I bring an immediate relative?

  • http://socialsecurityinsider.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Thanks for commenting! I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your question. You can call SSA before going to the office to find out, so you don't wait in line for hours just to be turned away.

    This link may help: http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2008/11/ho

  • David

    just moved home from florida and had my wallet stolen with Both my state Id and my ss card where do i start to get it all back only legal form of idenification is a copy of my birth certificate.

  • David

    just moved home from florida and had my wallet stolen with Both my state Id and my ss card where do i start to get it all back only legal form of idenification is a copy of my birth certificate.

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  • Lisa

    My drivers license expired on my birthday and I didnt notice until 3 months later, DMV would not issue me another until I updated my social security card which had my previous married name on it , I got married 7 years ago and never updated with ss. ss would not give a new card because my license was expired. I had no proof of identity other than a marriage certificate, birth certificate, W-2 from work,and the expired drivers license. they told me I had to go see a doctor and be treated and that the paperwork I recieved from that would prove identity.” wth “

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      “wth” indeed! I can’t say that it makes any sense to me.

  • Chevydeerhunter23

    what if i know my ss number do i still need ID and proof of birth certificate???

    • http://stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      A Social Security number is not id.

  • Redhotsinner

    Will they accept a photocopy of my husbands drivers license if he mails it in? He works during the hours that the local office is open

  • Marlie

    Hello my name is Marlie I just turned 18 and recently moved, I lost both my ss card and my birth certificate. I’m sure I can get a certificate of my citizenship, however where do I go to turn them in and get a new one? I’m pretty confused and I’m not sure if there’s a specific office used for this.

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