Social Security Form SS-5

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on April 03, 2023

Get Any Financial Question Answered

What Is Form SS-5?

Form SS-5 is the form that allows individuals to obtain a brand-new or replacement Social Security card.

For new applicants, this form is a necessary step for them to be issued a Social Security Number (SSN).

This form is labeled with a header: Application for a Social Security Card. It consists of 18 sections, which must be accurately filled out.

When submitting this application to the Social Security Administration (SSA), several documents verifying the individual's age, identity, and citizenship must also be attached.

Other documents may also be required depending on the applicant's status.

An individual's SSN is an important piece of information required for various activities, such as applying for Social Security benefits, getting a job, and opening a bank account.

The SSN is located on the Social Security card, which will be sent through mail once Form SS-5 has been successfully processed.

When Do You Need an SS-5 Form?

There are various situations when an individual needs to fill out an SS-5 Form. These include:

First Time Card Application

Most parents in the United States apply for a Social Security card on behalf of their newborn children so that they can, among other things, claim them as dependents on their tax returns.

In addition to filling out the SS-5 Form and presenting supporting papers, applicants must personally attend an interview with the SSA if they are at least 12 years old but have never been issued a Social Security card.

Alternatively, records that prove applicants have lived outside of the United States for an extended period of time may be accepted by the government as proof that they have never been given a Social Security number.

However, if applicants have not been out of the country for an extended period of time, their school records may be accepted as proof instead.

Requesting a Replacement for Damaged, Lost, or Stolen Cards

Individuals are required to apply for a replacement Social Security card if the one they previously had was lost, stolen, or damaged.

They can do this online by logging into the SSA portal using their Social Security account credentials.

They can also submit the form by mail or by going into the office in person.

They are only allowed to request a maximum of three replacements in a single calendar year and 10 in their lifetime.

Requesting a Replacement Due to Name Change

If an individual’s name was changed legally, their Social Security card should reflect the change. Applicants may also fill out the form online, send it via mail or submit it to the office.

In addition, they will be required to submit a certified copy of their marriage license or other documentation verifying their name change.

Requesting a Replacement to Correct Errors

Requesting a Social Security card to correct errors, such as incorrect birthdates, is the same as any replacement request.

However, there is no section on Form SS-5 to request an error correction, so applicants are encouraged to attach a note with their application.

New Card Application for Change in Immigration Status

If an applicant’s immigration status has been recently changed, they must also get a new card reflecting the change.

Three kinds of Social Security cards can be obtained from the SSA, and two restrict an individual’s capacity to find work.

Thus, applicants who have recently changed their status may need a new card to be able to work or switch jobs.

They will also be required to provide additional supporting documents, such as a copy of their certificate of citizenship.

Card Application for a Dependent

Individuals may also apply for a card on behalf of their dependents. This usually involves the birth or adoption of a new child.

Parents or guardians can simultaneously apply for their child's Social Security number at the hospital when they apply for a birth certificate, according to the SSA.

If individuals are filling out an application for someone else, they must attach supporting documentation.

These documents must prove their identity, the identity of the person they are applying for, and the fact they are responsible for or are related to this person.

Apart from these additional requirements, the application process is the same as if an individual were applying for their own card.

Required Documents for Form SS-5

Aside from submitting the SS-5 form, individuals must attach documents supporting their application's crucial details, such as age, identity, citizenship, and immigration status.

However, it must be noted that the SSA only accepts original or custodian-certified documents.

Notarized or uncertified photocopies are not accepted.

Furthermore, the number of records an individual needs to attach depends on the purpose of their application.

Below are the types of documents that the SSA accepts to support each category:

Proof of Age

Birth certificates are generally required. However, the SA may also accept other documents verifying an individual's age.

For instance, they receive U.S. hospital records made at birth, a religious record established before age five showing an individual's age or date of birth, a passport, or a final adoption decree.

Proof of Identity

When presenting proof of identity, individuals must take care that their documents are:

  • Current and non-expired or issued during the previous two years for adults and four years for children if the document has no expiry date
  • Bearing their legal name
  • Inclusive of biographical or physical details
  • Issued in the United States

Documents that easily meet the criteria mentioned above include a:

  • U.S. driver's license
  • State-issued U.S. non-driver identification card
  • U.S. passport

If the individual does not possess any of the above documents, the SSA may accept the following for adults instead:

  • U.S. military identification card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Employee identity card
  • Certified copy of a medical record
  • Health insurance card
  • Medicaid card
  • School identity card or record

As for young children, the SSA may accept the following:

  • Medical records
  • Final adoption decree
  • A school identification card
  • Other school-maintained records

Proof of U.S. Citizenship

Individuals generally present their U.S. birth certificate or passport as evidence of citizenship. However, a Consular Report of Birth, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship may also be acceptable.

Proof of Immigration Status

Immigrants applying for a Social Security card must present a current, unexpired Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document stating their immigration status, which may include:

International students or exchange visitors may also need to present additional documents, such as the following:

  • Form I-20
  • DS-2019
  • A letter approving employment from the individual’s school, employer or sponsor

SSA can grant a Social Security card even if an applicant is not permitted to work in the U.S. However, the card will be marked accordingly, and the SSA will inform the DHS if the applicant worked despite their visa limitations.

Additional Documents

Individuals completing the SS-5 Form for someone else must submit proof of their authorization to sign the application.

They will also need to submit other documents to verify their identity and the identity of the person they are applying for.


How to Complete Form SS-5 Application

A copy of form SS-5 is available for download from the SSA website. A hard copy may also be obtained at a nearby Social Security office.

Applicants must include all of the information that applies to their situation in the form. The necessary information might change depending on why the form is being submitted.

Generally, it includes the name to be shown on the card, birth name, contact information, and date of birth.

The Social Security numbers of both the applicant's parents or the applicant's original Social Security number may also be needed, depending on the situation.

It is also necessary for the applicant to indicate the address at which the card will be delivered. The card will usually be sent between 10 to 14 days from the submission of the form.

Applicants who select "Legal Alien Not Allowed to Work" or "Other" must submit a document from a federal, state, or local government agency explaining why a Social Security number is needed.

The provision of race and ethnicity information is voluntary and will not affect application decisions.

The SSA needs this information for research and statistics so all customers are treated fairly despite the details provided here.

After filling up the SS-5 form, applicants must attach documents that verify their age, identity, and citizenship.

For example, this can be a U.S. passport, a birth certificate, a driver's license, or an identification card issued by the state.

Form I-551, Form I-766, or Form I-94 are additional documents needed to verify immigration status if the applicant is not a U.S. citizen.

All these documents must be original or certified by the person in charge of maintaining the record. Photocopies will not be accepted.

Applicants aged 18 years or older who are physically and mentally capable must sign the application personally.

If they are physically and mentally unable or under 18, an authorized representative such as a parent or guardian may sign on their behalf.

If the applicant cannot sign their name, they should sign with an "X" and have two witnesses sign in the section beside it.

How to Submit a Form SS-5

Applicants can either mail the completed Form SS-5 and accompanying documents to the Social Security office closest to them or submit their application in person.

It is easy to find the nearest Social Security office by entering their zip code on the SSA website.

In New York, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, the SSA has specific offices for specific services. In these cities, applicants must find a card center.

Applicants must beware of websites that claim to submit the SS-5 form on their behalf, as this might be bogus.

Although it is possible to obtain a copy of Form SS-5 online and even complete it on a computer, the form itself can only be submitted for simple replacements, such as due to damage or loss.

Citizens of Nevada, New Hampshire, Alaska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia cannot submit the form online, even for replacement cards.

This service is not offered in any of the territories that are a part of the United States, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Applicants who want to submit online also need a valid driver's license or identity card issued by one of the participating states or the District of Columbia to participate.

Receiving Your Social Security Card

After submission of the SS-5 form and supporting documents, the SSA should take about ten business days to send out the Social Security card.

Once an applicant receives their new card, the process is complete. They are encouraged to take care of their card and keep it in a safe place so it will not need to be replaced often.

Although there are businesses that will fill out a Social Security card application for an applicant and advise them which documents to submit, the SSA does not recommend their services.

Filing for the SS-5 form personally limits who gets an individual’s sensitive personal information. Plus, there is no charge to request a Social Security card - even if it is the 10th replacement card.

Final Thoughts

Form SS-5 is the application form for a new or replacement Social Security card.

Individuals need this card because it issues them a Social Security Number, which is required to open a bank account or transfer to a new job.

Applicants need to complete and complete this form so that the application will be processed successfully.

The form can be downloaded from the SSA's website, or a copy can be obtained at a local Social Security office.

Aside from filling up the SS-5 form, individuals are also required to attach specific documents, which may vary depending on the purpose of their application.

Generally, these documents are needed to verify the applicant's age, identity, and citizenship or immigrant status.

It generally takes ten business days to receive the new card once the SSA has received the completed application.

Getting a new or replacement Social Security card can seem daunting.

However, as long as applicants follow instructions and attach the required documents, it may not be that difficult.

Once they have received their card, applicants are encouraged to take care of it by keeping it in a safe place so it will not need to be replaced often.

Social Security Form SS-5 FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

Meet Retirement Planning Consultants in Your Area

Find Advisor Near You